jazz,  jazz education,  transcriptions

The Horrors of the Half-Diminished

The pesky root-tritone relationship in the half-diminished chord — min 7 (b5) — adds an annoying constraint to voicings options. Often chordal players will omit it entirely, particularly when soloing. But that doesn’t get you off the hook.

Here are serveral options, some two-handed, some left-hand only. One common strategy is to include the ninth, another to add a sus 4. Both add warmth lost by the burden of the flat five.

(click to expand)


Ultimately, a half-diminished chord is nothing more than a minor 6 with a bass on the six (i.e., Gmin6/E). Pursuits will even argue that the half-diminished chord doesn’t really exist; that it’s nothing more than a minor six chord! Whatever to that. “Stella By Starlight”, “What is This Thing Called Love?”, “Peace”, “Ugly Beauty”, “All of You”, and so many others hinge around this tonality. It’s real. Now, own it!

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