Maj7b5 Chords and Arpeggios with Jens Larsen

A lesson about the Maj7b5 chord and arpeggio which is almost a swiss army knife chord in jazz harmony since it can be used very well in so many contexts both as a chord and as an arpeggio.

Ultimate Guitar
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 '60s.

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.

YouTube preview picture

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:

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

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).

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).

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

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

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.

About the Author:
By Jens Larsen. I hope that you liked the lesson. There are more lessons on my website. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    In your chord Ebm7, I don't understand where the F comes from. I'm sure some people totally get your teachings but the last couple of lessons give really vague explanations to me. Also, I think your symmetrical run thing is very counter productive when you leave out the 7 and clearly use it in the runs you create. It's kinda like tricking me. I'm not trying to offend you. I'm just frustrated that this is really going over my head.
    No offense taken! The F in the Ebm7 is coming from the fact that I am using an Gbmaj7 voicing, it is described in this lesson. I am not sure what you mean with "my symmetrical" run? If you want a quick answer you can pm me or use twitter so I know you wrote something here. I would like to help you if I can.