How to stack notes on a measure of music to create a -7 b5 chord?

4 Answers 4


We call it 'stacking thirds', for convenience. It's only partly true.

The reality is 1-3-5-7, all of which happen to be a third apart. Trouble is, two different thirds are contained within! Major and minor thirds, actually. So saying 'consistent intervals' isn't exactly true.

Minor seventh flat fifth chords are exactly what they are. They contain a root (needed to name the chord). There's a minor third (needed for the minor part). There's a flat fifth (not P5, but D5) and a minor seventh. From root C, that's C, E♭, G♭, B♭.

When you ask how to 'stack' them, not sure what you mean, but they can be put in any order - usually the root is lowest.

Also, be aware that an inversion of, say, Cm7♭5 is E♭m6. It could easily be that those notes get called the latter name instead, depending what the surrounding harmonies are.

  • I also think of chord tones by their relationship to the root, not to each other. I’m aware of the thirds relationship between chord tones but I find conceptualizing them as a series of thirds doesn’t feel grounded to me. I guess that’s the bass player in me. Sep 19, 2020 at 17:54

"Stacking" refers to having a consistent interval between successive notes in the chord. For example, building a Cmin7(b5) chord from stacked thirds would be: C-Eb-Gb-Bb.

You can build chords from other stacked intervals too, though stacked thirds and stacked fourths are the most common.


To build a minor7 b5 chord you simply stack the triad in thirds, (minor third to make a minor chord, stack on top of that another third, the fifth, and stack on top of that another third, the seventh, flat the seventh to make a dominant 7th, and then go back and flat the 5th. That's how my teacher taught me.

m3 m3 m3 = o7      fully diminished seventh                   C Eb Gb Bbb(A)
m3 M3 m3 = -7      minor seventh                              C Eb G  Bb
m3 M3 M3 = -M7     minor major seventh                        C Eb G  B
M3 m3 m3 = 7       dominant seventh                           C E  G  Bb
M3 m3 M3 = M7      major seventh                              C E  G  B
M3 M3 m3 = M7#5    major seventh sharp five                   C E  G# B
M3 M3 M3 = Aug     augmented                                  C E  G# B#(C)

m3 = minor third = 3 half-steps  
M3 = major third = 4 half-steps  

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.