Can someone please help me understand this chord progression that actually takes the listener from E♭ to B♭. There is a chord at the end of the phrase and I can't understand what chord it comes from. The notes are (F A♭ E♭). Let's call this chord "X".

Here is the progression so you can get this in context.

E♭, E♭, B♭, E♭, Cdim, X, B♭

6 Answers 6


It's common to omit some notes when forming a chord (for various reasons; depends on the instrument and the composer).

The aforementioned chord is a Fm7 (no5), which means that you play the notes that form the Fm7 chord (F A♭ C E♭), but you omit the 5th (C), thus getting Fm7 (no 5) or the notes F A♭ E♭.

One of the most common chord notes you're going to omit is the 5th. There is a great thread about this here (it's about omitting notes in jazz, but still it's worth a read):

Which notes are optional in jazz chords?


The X chord could be an Fm7 and that would perfectly fit in the E♭ scale with the other chords in the progression you mentioned.

Simplified explanation:

The diatonic triads in E♭ scale are: E♭ Fm Gm A♭ B♭ Cm Ddim.

  • Thanks, Is there anything else it could be that would give a stronger resolution to Bb? Fm7 sounds fine but I just want other options to hear what else it could be. The music book I have says the chord is a Bb7sus4b9 chord which seems a bit over-the-top since I doubt the composer was thinking of it like that.
    – armani
    May 6, 2019 at 10:35
  • You're not going to find a much stronger resolution than the v7 to i. (In addition, in my experience, you're not going to find a better match for those three notes).
    – phroureo
    May 6, 2019 at 18:14

The other answers are 100% correct: with a motion to E♭ major, the expected diatonic chord here is Fm7 with an omitted fifth (C).

But for the sake of completeness, you could also turn this into an F half-diminished seventh chord, or Fm7♭5. Doing so would mean that this omitted fifth would need to be a C♭. But notice that, since there's no C♭ in the key signature of E♭ (the starting point of this phrase), this is an example of what we call mode mixture. We say that this chord (and the C♭ itself) are borrowed from E♭ minor, the parallel key of E♭ major.

Perhaps also of interest: viewing this chord as a half-diminished seventh makes it enharmonic to the Tristan chord.


Two alternate progressions: E♭ -> B♭ (Just do it!). In a march, it is normal to go from tonic in the first section to sub-dominant in the Trio section; why not do the reverse? Second alternative, E♭ -> F -> B♭. These keys sit next to each other in the circle of fifths; the transitions are easy on the ear.
[Personal experience- 40 years on keyboard, arranging, etc.]

  • 2
    How could he use F when he has a Ab? May 6, 2019 at 18:28

I agree with the other answers that it's probably an Fmin7 chord. One thing I'd like to point out is that, in the context you gave, this gives the chord progression E♭, E♭, B♭, E♭, Cdim, Fmin7, B♭. The last three chords plus another E♭ wrapping around to the beginning of the progression are Cdim, Fmin7, B♭, E♭ - which is walking along the circle of fifths before resolving to E♭. This is a very common chord progression. So the interpretation of the chord as Fmin7 is especially likely to be correct!


One possible voicing/inversion of of {F A♭ E♭} gives rise to a B♭11 with an omitted root and 3rd.

That is to say, F is the fifth, A♭ is the minor 7th, E♭ is the 11th.

Cdim, B11, B♭ is plausible.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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