Maj7b5 – chords and arpeggios

I wanted to try and do a lesson on a type of chord that serves very well as a sort of swiss-army knife chord that you can put to work in a lot of contexts. By now this way of voicing chords has been a part of jazz since the mid 60’s. Another reason why I put this in a lesson of its own is that it is not strictly diatonic, you can find it in Major, Melodic and Harmonic minorbut it won’t appear as a stack of diatonic thirds in the scale which has been my subject in some of my other lessons.

An important part of analyzing solos and harmonies is superimposing a set of notes over a root. It is very useful to be able to see how notes relate to the root and interpret that into what sort of chord they then end up being, which is what I will be doing in this lesson.

The Chord

So a Cmaj7b5: Cmaj7 is C E G B so Cmaj7b5 is C E Gb B, but in this lesson it’s a bit more practical to notate it C E F# B.

Here are a few voicings:

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 1

And here is (one of the many) ways to play it as an arpeggio:

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 2

This way of playing the arpeggio is handy because it is symmetrical in groups of 2 strings and it is also pretty compact, so no stretches. If you want to use this chord you will probably need to check it out in a few positions too.

Superimposing a Maj7b5 chord and voicing

So here are a few examples of how to use the chord in a progression and using the arpeggio in a line.

If you use the chord as an F#m7b5 it will give you the following sound: b5(C), b7(E), 1(F#) and 11(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 3

Here is a the chord is working as an Am6/9 it will give you the following sound: b3(C), 5(E), 6(F#) and 9(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 4

On a D7(9,13) it will give you the following sound: b7(C), 9(E), 3(F#) and 12(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 5

If you use the chord as an Ab7alt it will give you the following sound: 3(C), b13(E), b7(F#) and #9(B)

Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord Ex 6

Of course there are more possibilities to use the chord, it can also work as an 7sus4(b9) or phrygian chord, a Maj7b5 chord (not surprisingly). But I tried to choose the ones that I use the most myself.

You can download the sheet music as a PDF here:  Maj7b5 Arpeggio and chord

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  1. Pingback: Lesson: Maj7b5 chords - A One size fits all chord/arpeggio (well almost...)

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