SMG Guitar Lesson #9: Why Chords Sound the Way They Do


The final chord we’ll take a look at in three-part harmony is the mb5 chord. The “minor flat five chord”, also classically referred to as a “half-diminished chord”, is the only type of chord three-part harmony chord that occurs just once in each major key. For example, the only minor flat five chord in the key of C is Bmb5, which is constructed from the notes B, D, and F and found on the seventh degree of the key.


A minor flat five chord can be constructed using the musical compass by turning the dial to the desired root note and selecting the intervals Root, flat 3rd, and flat 5th. In other words, it can be thought of as a minor chord but with a flatted fifth.

Minor Flat Five Chord = Root + flat 3rd + flat 5th

(Notice how the intervals forming the mb5 are closer together than any other type of chord. Remember what we said about notes being too close together in our lesson on harmonizing a scale? – This is the reason why the mb5 chord will tend to sound dissonant, jazzy, unresolved, and even funky.)

This same method can be used to figure out the notes in any type of chord, from simple two-part harmony power chords, to seven-part harmony thirteenth chords and beyond. – And it’s this kind of knowledge that really opens to door to great guitar playing.  I could jabber on all day about guitar, but you’ll learn the most with direct hands-on experience.

So if you’re seriously ready to get the most out of your playing, you’ll find my e-book on chords and chord inversions right here;


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