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How to play the Dm7b5 chord on guitar

Learn to play the jazzy Dm7b5 chord, featured in songs like "Stairway to Heaven."

The Dm7b5 chord

The Dm7b5 chord, pronounced D half-diminished, is a unique and versatile chord that adds a haunting, jazzy flavor to progressions. Also known as a D minor seventh flat five, this chord is built on the seventh degree of the major scale. It's commonly found in jazz, neo-soul, and R&B music, and is notably used in songs like "Creep" by Radiohead and "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common Dm7b5 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Dm7b5 chord

The most common way to play a Dm7b5 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 6th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a Dm7b5 chord on your guitar:

  1. Barre your index finger across all six strings at the 6th fret.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 8th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 8th fret of the 4th (D) string.

To strum this chord, use your pick or thumb to play downstrokes across all six strings simultaneously. Alternatively, you can fingerpick the individual notes of the chord.

How to play an easy Dm7b5 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the Dm7b5 chord, try this:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Leave the 1st (high E), 3rd (G), and 5th (A) strings open.

How to play a Dm7b5 bar chord

Playing the barre chord version of Dm7b5 can be a great way to add variety to your chord voicings and expand your fretboard knowledge.

Here's how to play a Dm7b5 bar chord:

  1. Place your index finger on the 6th fret, barring all the strings.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your pinky finger on the 8th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  4. Place your ring finger on the 8th fret of the 1st (high E) string.
  5. Strum from the 5th (A) string down.

Common Dm7b5 chord progressions

The Dm7b5 chord, also known as a half-diminished seventh chord, adds a haunting and melancholic flavor to chord progressions. It often serves as a transitional chord, creating a sense of tension and resolution. Here are some common chord progressions featuring the Dm7b5 chord:

  • ii7b5 - V7 - i (Dm7b5 - G7 - Cm). Used in "Stairway to Heaven" and "Michelle".
  • i - ii7b5 - V7 - i (Cm - Dm7b5 - G7 - Cm)
  • iv - iv7b5 - iiim6 - VI7b9 (Fm - Fm7b5 - Ebm6 - Ab7b9)
  • ii7b5 - V7b9 - i7 (Dm7b5 - G7b9 - Cm7)
  • ii7b5 - V7 - im7 - V7/iv (Dm7b5 - G7 - Cm7 - C7)

Drills to master the Dm7b5 chord

To master the Dm7b5 chord, try playing it in different positions up and down the fretboard. This will help your fingers adapt to the shape and improve your muscle memory. Focus on smoothly transitioning to and from the Dm7b5 as you switch between chords.

Another effective drill is to incorporate the Dm7b5 into chord progressions you already know. This will make the chord feel more familiar and musical. Try playing it in a ii-V-i progression, like Dm7b5-G7-Cm, to get comfortable using it in a practical context.

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Songs that feature the Dm7b5 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the Dm7b5 chord.

  1. Misty by Erroll Garner (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7, Fm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7, A7b9)
  2. My Funny Valentine by Richard Rodgers (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7)
  3. All the Things You Are by Jerome Kern (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7, Fmaj7, Bm7b5, E7b9, Am7, D7b9, Gmaj7, Fm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7, Abm7, Db7, F#m7b5, B7b9, Emaj7)
  4. Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7, Fm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7, Am7b5, D7b9)
  5. Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7, Fm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7)
  6. Stella by Starlight by Victor Young (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7, Fmaj7, Bm7b5, E7b9, Am7, D7)
  7. In a Sentimental Mood by Duke Ellington (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7, Fm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7)
  8. Body and Soul by Johnny Green (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7, Fm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7, Am7, D7, Gmaj7)
  9. The Way You Look Tonight by Jerome Kern (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7, Am7, D7, Gmaj7)
  10. Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn (Dm7b5, G7b9, Cmaj7, Fm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7, Abm7, Db7)

How a guitar teacher can help

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