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How to play the Em7b5 chord on guitar

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The Em7b5 chord

The Em7b5 chord, pronounced "E minor seven flat five" or "E half-diminished," is a versatile and intriguing chord. Notable for its hauntingly beautiful sound, it combines elements of both minor and diminished chords. Frequently used in jazz, funk, and R&B, the Em7b5 adds depth and sophistication to progressions. Its unique flavor makes it a favorite among guitarists looking to explore beyond basic chord structures.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common Em7b5 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Em7b5 chord

The standard way to play the Em7b5 chord is on the 7th fret of the guitar.

Follow these finger positions to play a Em7b5 chord on your guitar:

  1. Barre your index finger across the 7th fret, covering all six strings.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 8th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 9th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 9th fret of the 4th (D) string.

Strum all six strings together to play the Em7b5 chord. Make sure to apply enough pressure with your index finger to properly barre all the strings.

How to play an easy Em7b5 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the Em7b5 chord, try playing an Em chord (022000) and lifting your middle finger off the 2nd fret of the A string. This creates an Em7b5 chord using only two fingers, making it easier for beginners to play.

How to play a Em7b5 bar chord

The Em7b5 chord is most commonly played as an open chord, but learning the barre chord version can be useful for playing it in different positions up the neck or as part of a chord progression that requires sliding between barre chords.

Here's how to play a Em7b5 bar chord:

  1. Place your index finger across the 7th fret, covering all six strings (barre).
  2. Place your middle finger on the 8th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 9th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 9th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  5. Strum all six strings from low to high.

Common Em7b5 chord progressions

The Em7b5 chord, also known as the E minor seventh flat five or half-diminished seventh chord, adds a haunting and complex flavor to chord progressions, often used in jazz, neo-soul, and R&B. Its unique sound evokes a sense of melancholy, tension, and emotional depth. Here are some common chord progressions featuring the Em7b5 chord:

  • i7b5 - V7 - i (Em7b5 - A7 - Dm) Used in "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin
  • i7b5 - V7 - i7 - IV7 (Em7b5 - A7 - Dm7 - G7)
  • ii7b5 - V7 - i (Fm7b5 - Bb7 - Ebm)
  • iv7b5 - bVII7 - III7 - VI7 (Abm7b5 - Db7 - F7 - B7)
  • vi7b5 - ii7 - V7 - i (Bm7b5 - F#m7 - B7 - Em)

Drills to master the Em7b5 chord

To master the Em7b5 chord, try playing the notes (E, G, Bb, D) in sequence, ascending and descending. Start slowly and focus on clean transitions between each note. Gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable.

Another effective drill is to practice strumming the Em7b5 chord while transitioning to and from other common chords like Am, C, and G. This will help you develop muscle memory and seamlessly incorporate the Em7b5 chord into your playing. Remember to keep a steady rhythm and maintain proper technique throughout your practice sessions.

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Songs that feature the Em7b5 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the Em7b5 chord:

  1. Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma (Am7, D7, Gmaj7, Cmaj7, F#m7b5, B7, Em7b5, A7, Dm7)
  2. Misty by Erroll Garner (Ebm7, Fm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7, C7, Fm7, Bb7, G7b9, Cm7, F7, Dm7b5, G7)
  3. All the Things You Are by Jerome Kern (Fm7, Bbm7, Eb7, Abmaj7, Db7, Gmaj7, C#m7b5, F#7, Bmaj7, E7, Amaj7, D7, G7, C7)
  4. My Funny Valentine by Richard Rodgers (Em7b5, A7b9, Dm7, G7, Cmaj7, Bm7b5, E7, Am7, D7, Gmaj7, G#dim7)
  5. Summertime by George Gershwin (Am7, D7, Gmaj7, Em7b5, A7, Dm7, G7, Cmaj7)
  6. How High the Moon by Morgan Lewis (Gmaj7, Bm7b5, E7, Am7, D7, G6, Bm7, E7b9, Am7, D7, Gmaj7)
  7. Stella by Starlight by Victor Young (Bbmaj7, Gm7, C7, Fmaj7, F#m7b5, B7, Em7b5, A7, Dm7, G7, Cm7, F7)
  8. 'Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk (Ebm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7, C#m7b5, F#7, Bmaj7, Fm7, Bb7, Ebmaj7)
  9. Take the "A" Train by Billy Strayhorn (C6, D7, Dm7, G7, C6, F#m7b5, B7, Em7b5, A7, Dm7, G7)
  10. Fly Me to the Moon by Bart Howard (Am7, Dm7, G7, Cmaj7, F#m7b5, B7, Em7b5, A7, Dm7, G7)

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.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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