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Fm7b5 Piano Chord

    Piano Diagram of Fm7b5 in Root Position

    F M7b5 Chord Root Position Piano Diagram

    The Fm7b5 chord, also known as a half-diminished chord, is a minor dominant seventh chord with a flat 5th built on the F major scale. This chord consists of the root note F, the minor third Ab, the diminished fifth Cb, and the minor seventh Eb.


    Structure of Fm7b5


    F, Ab, Cb, Eb


    R, m3, d5, m7


    Fm7b5 Chord Inversions


    The Fm7b5 chord has a total of 3 inversions:

    Root Position: F Ab Cb Eb
    1st Inversion: Ab Cb Eb F
    2nd Inversion: Cb Eb F Ab
    3rd Inversion: Eb F Ab Cb

     Piano Keyboard Diagrams


    Fm7b5 Chord Equivalencies

    When you invert a half-diminished chord to its first inversion, it becomes equivalent to a minor 6th chord built on its minor 3rd.

    Let’s take the Fm7b5 chord which consists of the notes F, Ab, Cb, Eb: its first inversion is Ab, Cb, Eb, F, which is actually an Ab min6 chord.

    1st Inversion of Fm7b5 = Ab minor 6th

    Understanding the equivalencies of chords can be beneficial when playing or composing music. It can also help in analyzing and understanding the harmonic structure of a piece of music.

    Music Theory and Harmony of Fm7b5


    Fm7b5 is considered a half-diminished chord, which means it has a diminished fifth and a minor seventh interval. This chord can be used as a substitute for other chords, such as a dominant seventh chord or a minor chord.

    In jazz and other styles of music, Fm7b5 is often used as a passing chord or as part of a ii-V-I progression. It can add tension and interest to a musical passage, and can also be used as a starting point for improvisation.

    Before examining the most common use of this chord, let’s learn how to build it.


    Building the Fm7b5 Chord: Different Approaches

    Starting from the F Major Scale:

    To form a minor 7b5 chord, you would typically include the root note, minor third, diminished fifth, and minor seventh from a minor scale.

    However, when teaching this concept, it can be more effective to demonstrate its construction using a major scale. This is because a major scale better illustrates the relationship between intervals and their respective qualities.

    So let’s take the F major scale:


    F Major Diatonic Scale

    F Major Scale


    F Major Diatonic Scale up to 13th - Keyless Notation

    F Major scale – Keyless Notation


    To create an Fm7b5 chord, apply the formula R, m3, d5, m7 in the following manner:

    1. Begin with the Root note, F.
    2. Select the third interval, which is A. Then, subtract a half step to obtain the minor 3rd, Ab.
    3. Select the 5th interval, which is C then lower it by half step to get the diminished 5th, Cb (B).
    4. Pick the 7th interval E, then lower it by a half step to get the minor 7th, Eb.

    By following this simple formula, you can create a minor 7b5 chord from any major scale.


    by Combining Intervals:

    One method to create an Fm7b5 chord is by combining specific intervals – a minor 3rd, another minor 3rd, and a major 3rd.

    m3 + m3 + 3 = m7b5 Chords

    For example, to build an Fm7b5 chord:

    • we start with the root note F.
    • We then add a minor 3rd interval, which is three half-steps up from the root, to get Ab.
    • Next, we add another minor 3rd interval, which is three half-steps up from Ab, to get Cb.
    • Finally, we add a major 3rd interval, which is four half-steps up from Cb, to get Eb.

    Together, these intervals form the Fm7b5 chord.


    How to Use Fm7b5 in a Chord Progression


    The Fm7b5 chord is frequently used in ii-V-I progressions, where it functions as the ii chord. However, due to its versatile nature, it can also be used in various other musical contexts, such as:

    • on natural minor and Major keys
    • as a substitute for dominant 7th chords
    • as a substitute for minor chords

    Most common uses of Fm7b5

    The Fm7b5 chord appears on the second scale degree (II) in the Eb natural minor scale and on the seventh scale degree (VII) in the Gb major scale.


    Minor Scales i ii III iv v VI VII
    Eb Eb min7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7
    • Supertonic chord in Eb minor


    Major Scales I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Gb Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 Eb min7 Fm7b5
    • Leading tone chord in Gb Major


    Fm7b5 as a Substitute for Dominant 7th Chords

    Minor 7th flat 5th chords can replace dominant 7th chords when they share some of the same notes. A general rule of thumb when it comes to chord substitutions is that if the substitute chord contains at least the 3rd and 7th notes of the original chord, it’s often a viable option for substitution.

    G7 ⇔ Fm7b5

    Db7 ⇔ Fm7b5

    In this case, the Fm7b5 chord (F, Ab, Cb, Eb) can serve as a substitute for G7 (G, B, D, F) and Db7 (Db, F, Ab, Cb) due to their shared notes. Specifically, Fm7b5 shares the 7th and 3rd notes of G7 (which are F and B, respectively), as well as the 3rd and 7th notes of Db7 (which are F and Cb).

    Rootless dominant 9th Chord Substitution

    It’s worth noting that the substitution of Db7 with Fm7b5 can also be viewed as a rootless dominant 9th chord substitution. This is because Fm7b5 contains the same essential notes as the Db9 chord except the root note.

    Db9 = Db (F, Ab, Cb, Eb)

    Fm7b5 = F, Ab, Cb, Eb


    Fm7b5 as a Substitute for minor Chords

    To replace a minor chord with an m7b5, build the m7b5 by taking the note three semitones lower than the original minor chord. So, in the case of an Ab minor chord, the m7b5 chord would be built three half-steps lower than the root note Ab.

    On the ii Degree

    ii V I
    Ab min7 Db7 Gb Maj7
    Fm7b5 Db7 Gb Maj7

    You can apply this substitution to a ii V I progression that has an Ab minor chord on the ii degree by replacing it with an Fm7b5 chord.

    On the IV Degree

    I IV iv I
    I IV iv I
    Eb Maj7 Ab Maj7 Ab min7 Eb Maj7
    Eb Maj7 Ab Maj7 Fm7b5 Eb Maj7


    Fm7b5 Chord Function in Major and Minor Keys

    Understanding Scale Degrees

    When we form chords from a scale, each note in the scale is given a specific degree that reflects its position within the scale. The degree of a note in a scale determines its function and the role it plays in the overall harmony of the music.

    • Starting with the first degree of the scale, we have the Tonic chord. This chord serves as the foundation of the scale, providing a stable tonal center for the music. It’s like the “home base” of the music, and all melodies and harmonies are anchored to this chord.
    • Moving on to the second degree, we have the Supertonic. This degree acts as a transitional note between the tonic and other notes in the scale, creating a sense of movement and flow in the melody or harmony.
    • The third degree is the Mediant, which is located halfway between the tonic and dominant notes. This degree helps to establish whether the scale is major or minor and plays a critical role in determining the mood and emotional impact of the music.
    • The fourth degree is the Subdominant, which complements the dominant and adds tension and resolution to the music. It creates a push-pull effect that keeps the listener engaged and interested.
    • The fifth degree is the Dominant, which generates tension and a sense of expectation. It often acts as the climax of a musical phrase or section and is resolved by returning to the tonic.
    • The sixth degree is the Submediant, which provides a sense of stability and restfulness to the music. It’s often used as a transition between the dominant and tonic, creating a feeling of calm and relaxation.
    • Finally, we have the seventh degree, the Leading tone. This degree produces a strong sense of tension and a desire to resolve to the tonic. It’s often used to create a sense of resolution and completion in the melody or harmony.


    Fm7b5 as Supertonic Chord in Eb Minor

    In Eb minor, the F half-diminished chord functions as the supertonic on the second scale degree. It commonly serves as a passing chord to create movement within a progression.

    i ii III iv v VI VII
    Eb min7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7


    Fm7b5 Chord Progressions as ii degree

    Here are some examples of chord progressions that feature the F half-diminished as the supertonic chord.

    It’s a common practice to substitute the minor 7th chord found on the fifth degree of the natural minor scale with a dominant chord built on the harmonic minor scale. This is why you may see a Bb7 chord used instead of a Bb min7 chord in some of these progressions.

    ii iv V7 i
    ii iv V7 i
    Fm7b5 Ab min7 Bb7 Eb min7


    iv ii i
    iv ii i
    Ab min7 Fm7b5 Eb min7


    VII ii i
    VII ii i
    Db7 Fm7b5 Eb min7


    ii V7 i
    ii V7 i
    Fm7b5 Bb7 Eb min7


    Circle Progression
    i iv VII III VI ii V7 i
    Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7 Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Fm7b5 Bb7 Eb min7


    Fm7b5 as Leading Tone Chord in Gb Major

    In Gb major, the Fm7b5 chord is the leading tone chord built on the seventh degree of the scale. It creates a feeling of tension and resolution, as it strongly resolves to the tonic chord, which is the Gb major chord in this case.

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 Eb min7 Fm7b5


    Fm7b5 Chord Progressions as vii degree

    The following chord progressions feature the Fm7b5 chord as the leading tone:

    V vii I
    V vii I
    Db7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7


    I IV vii iii vi ii V I
    I IV vii iii vi ii V I
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Fm7b5 Bb min7 Eb min7 Ab min7 Db7 Gb Maj7


    Fm7b5 as Substitute for G7

    Fm7b5 shares the 7th and 3rd notes of G7 so it’s possible to use an Fm7b5 in place of a G7 on the V degree. This is a common substitution used in jazz music and can add some interesting harmonic color to a progression.

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    C Maj7 D min7 E min7 F Maj7 G7 Fm7b5 A min7 Bm7b5


    ii V I
    ii V I
    D min7 Fm7b5 | G7 C Maj7


    I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    I IV ii V iii vi ii V
    C Maj7 F Maj7 D min7 G7 | Fm7b5 E min7 A min7 D min7 G7

    You can play the Fm7b5 chord by itself, or use it in combination with a G7 chord, either before or after the Fm7b5. This will allow you to explore the different tonal colors and tensions that each progression creates, and help you develop a stronger sense of how these chords can be used effectively in your musical compositions or improvisations.


    Fm7b5 as Substitute for Db7

    Fm7b5 shares the 3rd and 7th notes of Db7 (which are F and Cb). This means that it is possible to use Fm7b5 as a substitute for Db7.

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 Fm7b5 Eb min7 Fm7b5


    ii V I
    ii V I
    Ab min7 Fm7b5 | Db7 Gb Maj7


    I IV V
    I IV V
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Fm7b5 | Db7


    I V vi IV
    I V vi IV
    Gb Maj7 Db7 | Fm7b5 Eb min7 Cb Maj7

    Using the Fm7b5 chord by itself or in combination with a Db7 chord can create different tonal colors and tensions. Experimenting with these progressions can help develop a stronger understanding of how to use these chords effectively in your musical compositions or improvisations.


    Alternative Fm7b5 Nomenclature

    • F∅
    • Faø
    • Fm7b5
    • Fm7°5
    • Fm7b5
    • Fm7/b5
    • Fm7(-5)
    • Fm7(b5)
    • F 1/2dim
    • F 1/2dim7
    • Fm7 Flat 5
    • F minor 7th b5
    • F half-diminished
    • F minor seventh flat fifth



    The chord progressions and examples presented in this post provide a comprehensive overview of the most common uses of the Fm7b5 chord. It’s important to note, however, that there are many advanced harmony-related topics that could not be included due to space constraints. These topics include chord progressions built on harmonic and melodic scales, modal scales, hidden tonality, secondary dominants and other chord substitutions, non-functional harmony and atonal music, modal interchange and borrowed chords, voice leading and counterpoint, chromatisms, jazz harmony…I mean, music theory is a huge topic!

    Although I couldn’t cover all of these topics in my post, I encourage readers to continue exploring these areas in their own study and research. By expanding your knowledge in these advanced areas of music theory, you can gain a deeper understanding of the harmonic possibilities that exist beyond the basics presented here.


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