• A Lesson On The Application Of The Half-Diminished Seventh Chord

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Gospel music,Hymns,Piano,Theory

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    Our focus in this lesson is on the application of the half-diminished seventh chord.

    The half-diminished seventh chord is NOT commonly heard when compared side by side with regular chords like the major seventh and minor seventh chords.

    Notwithstanding that the half-diminished seventh chord is rarely heard, it has its place in chord progressions — especially as a passing chord.

    However, before we delve into the application of the half-diminished seventh chord, let’s refresh our minds on the it.

    A Quick Review On The Half-Diminished Seventh Chord

    There are eight tones in any given key (be it a major or minor chord) and chords can be formed on any tone. In the key of C major:

    C is the first tone

    D is the second tone

    E is the third tone

    F is the fourth tone

    G is the fifth tone

    A is the sixth tone

    B is the seventh tone

    C is the eighth tone

    The chord of the seventh tone (which is B):

    …is the B diminished triad:

    Going beyond the real of triads into seventh chords, we can add another note to the B diminished triad:

    …which is A:

    …to form the B half-diminished seventh chord:

    Simply put, the half-diminished seventh chord is the chord of the seventh tone in the major key. Therefore, the half-diminished seventh chord can be formed on the seventh tone of any major key.

    “Let’s Take Another Example…”

    The seventh tone in the key of E major:

    …is D#:

    Using the tones of the E major scale:

    …the D# half-diminished seventh chord can be formed by adding notes in thirds.

    To D#:

    …we can add F#:

    …then A:

    …then C#:

    …to form the D# half-diminished seventh chord:

    “Check Out All The Half-Diminished Seventh Chords On The Keyboard…”

    C half-diminished seventh chord:

    C# half-diminished seventh chord:

    D half-diminished seventh chord:

    D# half-diminished seventh chord:

    E half-diminished seventh chord:

    F half-diminished seventh chord:

    F# half-diminished seventh chord:

    G half-diminished seventh chord:

    G# half-diminished seventh chord:

    A half-diminished seventh chord:

    A# half-diminished seventh chord:

    B half-diminished seventh chord:

    The Application Of The Half-Diminished Seventh Chord

    The half-diminished seventh chord can be applied as a borrowed chord from the parallel minor key. But before we talk about that, let’s take a look at the parallel minor key.

    A Short Note On The Parallel Minor Key

    For any given major key (let’s say C major):

    …the parallel minor key is the minor key that has the same letter name with the given major key.

    For example, the key of C major:

    …has the key of C minor:

    …as its parallel minor key.

    The Use Of The Half-diminished Seventh Chord As A Substitute For Chord 2

    In the key of C major:

    …where chord 2 is the D minor seventh chord:

    Chord 2 in the key of C minor:

    …which is the D half-diminished seventh chord:

    …can be used to substitute the D minor seventh chord:

    So, in any given key, the minor seventh chord of the second tone can be substituted with the half-diminished seventh chord.

    Submission: It’s important for you to know this application of the half-diminished seventh chord because it happens a lot in gospel music.

    “Here’s A Real Life Example…”

    To end this lesson, let’s see how the half-diminished seventh chord can be applied to songs in real life situations using the example below in the key of Ab major:

    Example – “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”

    It will ne-e-ver:

    ….lose:

    …its:

    …power:

    Attention: Did you see the half-diminished seventh chord right there at the “It will ne-e-ver” part of the song? The Bb half-diminished seventh chord is used to substitute the regular Bb minor seventh chord that should be the chord of the second tone.

    Final Words

    Now that you’ve learned yet another application of the half-diminished seventh chord, dust it off from your chordal shelf and start applying it where possible.

    See you in the next lesson!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Bill

    I am no J S Bach but i dont think you can make a Bb dim b5 7 with : d,f,ab,c.

    Reply

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