If you want to take your improvisation skills to the next level, it’s important to have a solid understanding of half diminished arpeggios (also known as minor 7 b5 arpeggios). Arpeggios are so effective because they highlight the important notes of a chord.
If you’re familiar with diminished triads, this concept goes one step further to include another note in the chord structure.
In this post, we’ll specifically look at how to play minor 7 b5 arpeggios shapes on guitar and application examples over different chords. Grab your guitar and let’s start learning!
Understanding half diminished arpeggios
Before learning to play arpeggios, it’s important to understand what half diminished and how they are built. Every half diminished chord (minor 7 b5 chord) is built upon the following four chord tones: 1, b3, b5, and b7. These chord tones can also be thought of as the scale degrees related to a diminished scale.
For example, the C minor 7 b5 chord has the chord tones C, Eb, Gb, and Bb. This is essentially a C diminished triad chord with an added flat 7th chord tone. As a side note, a fully diminished chord has the chord tones 1, b3, b5, and 6.
Here is the formula for minor 7 b5 chords below.
Now that you know what notes belong to the minor 7 b5 chord structure, let’s look at how to read the chord charts.
How to read the chord charts
For the chord charts below:
- The top horizontal line of the chord chart represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string.
- The vertical lines separate each fret.
- The green dots represent the root note.
You can check this link for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.
Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 1
Here is the first shape with the root note starting on the 6th string. You can use any root note to play these examples but we will cover application examples later in this post.
For the following charts, the left side shows you the suggested fingering for an arpeggio and the right side shows you what chord tones you are playing.
Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 2
Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 3
Now, here is the minor 7 arpeggio shape with the root note starting on the 5th string.
Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 4
Here is another way you can play the arpeggio with the root note on the 5th string.
Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 5
All arpeggio shapes on the fretboard
To help you connect all the shapes we learned, here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using an A minor 7 b5 chord arpeggio.
A half diminished arpeggios
B half diminished arpeggios
Here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using a B minor 7 b5 chord arpeggio.
E half diminished arpeggios
Here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using an E minor 7 b5 chord arpeggio.
Minor 7 b5 arpeggio application examples
At this point, we’ve covered how to play half diminished arpeggios on the guitar but now we’ll go over examples of how to apply them over a half diminished chord, specifically a C minor 7 b5 chord.
You can listen each example below the notation with tabs to help you learn these phrases.
Application example 1
This first example uses an ascending four note pattern using only the C minor 7 b5 chord tones: C, Eb, G, and Bb.
Application example 2
Next, we have a descending arpeggio pattern that skips one note after every chord tone.
Application example 3
Example 3 incorporates the half diminished arpeggio with other scale and chromatic notes.
Application example 4
Example 4 also includes arpeggio note skipping and scale notes from the C Locrian scale).
Application example 5
Lastly, example 5 incorporates the half diminished arpeggio with added chromatic notes which gives it a hint of the blues scale. The notes in the 2nd measure outline an Eb minor blues scale with a 6th degree instead of b7.
Arpeggios are a foundational part of improvisation because they highlight the important notes of a chord. If you practice this concept, you’ll find that your solos have much more clarity over the chords you’re playing over.
As you become more comfortable playing arpeggios over a specific chord, also try incorporating other scale notes or try different rhythmic ideas to make your ideas sound more musical. You can also challenge yourself to play arpeggios examples or ideas over different chords.
I hope this helps you to create more interesting ideas when improvising. Happy practicing!
JG Music Lessons