How to play

How to play the Bbm7b5 chord on guitar

The secret chord in "Stairway to Heaven" and "Michelle" by The Beatles.

The Bbm7b5 chord

The Bbm7b5 chord, pronounced B-flat minor seven flat five or B-flat half-diminished, is a versatile chord with a haunting, jazzy sound. It's commonly used in jazz progressions and as a passing chord in various genres. The unique combination of minor and diminished intervals adds a layer of complexity and tension to the harmony, making it a favorite among musicians looking to add depth to their compositions.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common Bbm7b5 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Bbm7b5 chord

The standard way to play the Bbm7b5 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 6th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a Bbm7b5 chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger on the 6th fret of the 1st (E) through 5th (A) strings, forming a barre.
  2. Place your ring finger on the 8th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your pinky finger on the 8th fret of the 3rd (G) string.

Strum all six strings together to play the Bbm7b5 chord, making sure to apply adequate pressure with your index finger to properly fret the barre chord.

How to play an easy Bbm7b5 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the Bbm7b5 chord, try this:

  1. Place your index finger on the first fret of the B string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the second fret of the G string.
  3. Play only these two strings together.

This two-note version of Bbm7b5 is easier for beginners to play.

How to play a Bbm7b5 bar chord

Playing the Bbm7b5 chord as a barre chord can be beneficial for transitioning smoothly between chords and creating a fuller sound.

Here's how to play a Bbm7b5 bar chord:

  1. Place your index finger across the first fret, covering all six strings (barre).
  2. Place your middle finger on the second fret of the third (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the third fret of the fifth (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the third fret of the fourth (D) string.
  5. Strum down starting from the sixth (low E) string.

Common Bbm7b5 chord progressions

The Bbm7b5 chord, also known as the half-diminished seventh chord, adds a haunting and melancholic flavor to chord progressions. It frequently appears as the ii chord in minor ii-V-i progressions, creating a sense of tension and resolution. Here are some common chord progressions featuring the Bbm7b5 chord:

  • ii-V-i (Bbm7b5 - Eb7 - Abm) - Used in "Stella by Starlight" and "God Bless the Child"
  • ii-V-i-IV (Bbm7b5 - Eb7 - Abm - Db) - Used in "Autumn Leaves"
  • ii-bII7-i (Bbm7b5 - Cb7 - Abm)
  • ii-V-bVI-bVII (Bbm7b5 - Eb7 - Fm7 - Gb7)
  • ii-V-i-bVI (Bbm7b5 - Eb7 - Abm - Fm7)

Drills to master the Bbm7b5 chord

To master the Bbm7b5 guitar chord, start by practicing the chord shape slowly and consistently. Focus on cleanly fretting each note and transitioning smoothly between chords. Gradually increase your speed while maintaining accuracy.

Another effective drill is to arpeggiate the chord, playing each note individually in ascending and descending order. This helps you memorize the notes (Bb, Db, Fb, Ab) and improves your dexterity. Incorporating the Bbm7b5 chord into progressions and songs will also aid in internalizing its sound and application in various musical contexts.

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Songs that feature the Bbm7b5 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the Bbm7b5 chord.

  1. All the Things You Are by Jerome Kern (Fm7, Bbm7, Eb7, Abmaj7, Dbmaj7, Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7)
  2. Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma (Bbm7b5, Eb7, Am7b5, D7, Gm, Cm7, Fm7)
  3. Blue Bossa by Kenny Dorham (Cm7, Fm7, Bbm7b5, Eb7, Abmaj7, Dbmaj7, Dm7b5, G7)
  4. Body and Soul by Johnny Green (Bbm7b5, Eb7, Abmaj7, Dbmaj7, Dm7b5, G7, Cm7, Fm7)
  5. Days of Wine and Roses by Henry Mancini (Fm7, Bbm7b5, Eb7, Abmaj7, Dbmaj7, Dm7b5, G7, Cmaj7)
  6. God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday (Fm7, Bbm7b5, Eb7, Abmaj7, Dm7b5, G7, Cm7)
  7. Misty by Erroll Garner (Bbm7b5, Eb7, Abmaj7, Dm7b5, G7, Cm7, Fm7)
  8. My Favorite Things by Richard Rodgers (Em, Am, Dm, G, C, F, Bbm7b5, Eb7)
  9. Stella by Starlight by Victor Young (Bbm7b5, Eb7, Abmaj7, Dm7b5, G7, Cm7, Fm7)
  10. Take the "A" Train by Billy Strayhorn (Fm7, Bbm7b5, Eb7, Abmaj7, Dbmaj7, Dm7b5, G7, Cmaj7)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

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