Ab Essentials (new)

Playing songs in the Key of Ab Major

Your go-to resource for playing in the key of Ab

Foundation Knowledge (Must Know)

Diatonic Triads

Chord Name

Chord Spelling

I

Ab Major (AbMaj)

Ab-C-Eb

ii

Bb Minor (Bbmin)

Bb-Db-F

iii

C Minor (Cmin)

F# Minor (F#min)

C-Eb-G

IV

Db Major (DbMaj)

G Major (GMaj)

Db-F-Ab

V

Eb Major (EbMaj)

A Major (AMaj)

Eb-G-Bb

vi

F Minor (Fmin)

B Minor (Bmin)

F-Ab-C

vii

G diminished (Gdim)

C# diminished (C#dim)

G-Bb-Db

Main Chords

Chord Name

Chord Spelling

Ab Major (AbMaj7)

see full chart

Ab-C-Eb-G

Ab-B-Eb-Gb

D F A C

Ab (or Ab Dominant)

see full chart

F# Minor (F#min)

Ab-C-Eb-Gb

Ab Diminished or Ab dim

G Major (GMaj)

Ab-B-D

Abmin7b5 or Ab half-diminished

A Major (AMaj)

Ab-B-D-Gb

Absus2

B Minor (Bmin)

Ab-Bb-Eb

Absus4

C# diminished (C#dim)

Ab-Db-Eb

Stacking - Use to have the full sound

Stacking notes simply means to repeat the same notes in a chord. So in the Key of Ab, instead of playing Ab-C-Eb for the Ab Major (AbMaj) chord above you may play Left Hand: Ab-Eb-Ab and Right Hand: C-Eb-Ab it is the exact SAME chord but it will sound fuller. The trick is to only use the notes within the chord. It is up to you to decide WHICH notes should be played twice and WHERE you want to play them. Stacking is an important concept because it is foundation for improvisation. 


Here is an example of Stacking:


Stacking notes simply means to repeat the same notes in a chord. This is a D7 chord, spelled in the chart above


Stacking notes simply means to repeat the same notes in a chord. 

We repeated the same notes. This is STACKED

Inversions - Those cool voicings you HEAR are just inversions of basic chords 

Inversions in a technical sense means to simply remove the note and the bottom and place it on the top. That is called First Inversion.  So since Ab Major is played using Ab-C-Eb, the first inversion would take Ab at the bottom and place it on top, giving us C-Eb-Ab. The second inversion takes the C in the last chord, and places it on top. However, I use the term inversion differently. ANY ARRANGEMENT of notes is an Inversion.  Some people call it: First Inversions, Second Inversions, Open Voicings, Drop 2, Drop 3... the list goes on. To simplify it as long as you are not adding additional notes, call it an Inversion.


Here is an example of an Inversion


Here is the Regular D7 chord, look at where the notes are. D-F-A-C

We took the A, shifted it up, F# shifted it down, C shifted Down. The D remained. This is an INVERSION of the D7 chord. *Remember THIS

"Hold up, then using your definition. Stacking and Inversions are just the same thing..."

No.. They aren't

Stacking REPEATS notes. Inversions only REARRANGE them.

This is a powerful and significant concept when understood.

Modes of the Ab Major Scale   

Chord Name

Scale to Use

I

Ab Ionian

Ab Bb C Db Eb F G

D E F# G A B C#

ii

Bb Dorian

Bb C Db Eb F G Ab

iii

C Phyrgian

F# Minor (F#min)

C Db Eb F G Ab Bb

IV

Db Lydian

G Major (GMaj)

Db Eb F G Ab Bb C

V

Eb Mixolydian

A Major (AMaj)

Eb F G Ab Bb C Db

vi

F Aeolian

B Minor (Bmin)

F G Ab Bb C Db Eb

vii

G Locrian

C# diminished (C#dim)

G Ab Bb C Db Eb F

Ab MAJOR Chords, Scales, and Extensions

The Main thing you need to know at this stage is the various scales, runs, and lines to use over various chord voicings and how to expand chord voicings by the use of extensions. This stage is characterized by specific runs and movements that the great pianist use but rather it gives you the melodic framework that they took their melodic lines from. 

Playing Scales Advice

Although you need to know your scales. Your scales are only a FOUNDATION for your solos. 

Your solos need melody, not scales. 

Think outside the box when using this scales to form melodies. Melodies come from shape and variation. These scales are your STARTING POINT.

Scales over a AbMaj7 chord: Ab-C-Eb-G

Chord Name

Scale to Use

Helpful Tips and Notes

Ab Ionian

Ab Bb C Db Eb F G

D E F# G A B C#

Let's face it. Using the notes in this order wouldn't sound that exceptional. However, I would still practice using this scale while holding Ab-C-Eb-G with my left hand. In addition, its not the order that is important. You can start from a different note, which changes it to one of the modes above. You can end on a different note. And you can even skip notes. Remember the goal is to USE the scale to create MELODIES.

Ab Pentatonic

Ab Bb C Eb F

Ahhh the classic gospel go-to run. You NEED to know this one if you need to pull up something really quick over a Abmaj7 chord and can't think of anything. I think it sounds better descending than ascending. And start on the 6 (the F). Trill up to the F from the Eb, with the 3rd finger on the F, come down the scale using 3-2-1-3-2-1-3-1-2-1 and so on... for a nice pentatonic flavor over that AbMaj7 chord

Ab Lydian

F# Minor (F#min)

Ab Bb C D Eb F G

The classic Lydian Sound. George Russell would kill me for putting this one 3rd instead of 1st. If you are struggling to know when to use this then just think: BbMajor over AbMajor. Your ear will have to know when you need that voicing but it is pretty common. Anything you feel like playing an Bbmajor chord with Ab as the root note then try this scale from ANY starting point.

ADVANCED

G Major (GMaj)

Ab Lydian Augmented

A Major (AMaj)

Ab Bb C D E F G

The 3rd mode of the melodic minor scale contains some unique sounds and voicings. But.. It is more than just a mode. It is a SOUND. I repeat. The Lydian Augmented scale is a sound. You can write a song using nothing but the notes in this scale. It is advanced because it needs to be studied in detail. In the Live Training we studied how Cory uses this mode in the song "yesterday" to come up with various voicings. 


B Minor (Bmin)



AbMajor7 Chord Extensions: Ab-C-Eb-G

Chord Name

Chord Extension

Helpful Tips and Notes

AbMaj7

Ab-C-Eb-G

Ways to play it:

LH: 

D E F# G A B C#

The most common way to voice a Ab Major chord. This is the first chord listed in the diatonic 7ths in the Key of Ab. Keep in mind that you can use variations and inversions of this chord for slightly different textures. For instance: C-G-Ab is a great way to voice this chord

AbMaj9

Ab-C-Eb-G-Bb

The AbMaj9 chord adds only one note to the Abmaj7 chord. It adds an 'Bb.' This is why we call it the AbMaj9, because 'Bb' is the 9th note in the scale.

AbMaj#11

F# Minor (F#min)

Ab-C-Eb-G-Bb-D

This chord is one of the "brightest" chords you can use (along with the AbMaj13#11). It has a distinct Lydian sound.

Ab6/9

Ab Bb C Eb F


See "notes" for another way to voice this chord.

This Popular Jazz chord is actually just the Pentatonic Scale with the notes played harmonically (together) instead of melodically (on at a time). Use a combination of Inversions and Stacking to sound good. A popular way to play it is LH: Ab-C-F   RH: Bb-Eb-Ab *notes go from lowest to highest

Suspended Chords - Know the Sus Chords in Ab, Memorize Them

G Major (GMaj)

Ab9sus4

A Major (AMaj)

Ab Db Gb Bb


Alternate Voicings:

LH: Ab Db Eb   RH: Gb Bb Db

LH: Ab Eb Bb    RH: Db Gb Bb Eb


A favorite common voicing among gospel musicians. It actually has multiple uses. For instance take the Ab at the bottom of the original chord on the left and change it to an Eb and you have an Ebmin7 chord. Take the Ab at the bottom and move it up ONE octave and you have a GbMaj(add2). Since it uses all notes from the Gb scale, you should have fun integrating it into your songs.

Ab13Sus

B Minor (Bmin)

Ab Bb Db Eb F Gb


Alternate Voicings

LH: Ab Eb Gb   RH: Bb Db F

The only difference with the Ab13Sus over the Ab9Sus4 voicing is the addition of the F. This is a full chord that you can get by just mashing a bunch of notes in the Ab dorian scale (except the B)

Ab MINOR Chords, Scales, and Extensions

Scales to use over a Abminor7 chord: Ab-B-Eb-Gb

Chord Name

Scale to Use

Helpful Tips and Notes

Ab Dorian

Ab Bb B Db Eb F Gb

D E F# G A B C#

The notes in the Dorian scale work well over any minor chord

Ab Blues

Ab B Db D Eb Gb

The Blues scale is actually the Same as the Minor Pentatonic Scale with an Added D. Please note that the Blues scale is a flexible scale so although you an play it with a Minor chord it works with multiple chord types

F# Minor (F#min)

Ab Pentatonic Minor

Ab B Db Eb Gb

From Pent- meaning 5. This scale has 5 notes, just like the Ab Major Pentatonic. Again this should be a go to scale for quick runs of that minor voicings. It sounds so good when you are able to execute quickly. So start slow and build up your speed.

Ab Aeolian

Ab Bb B Db Eb E Gb

Sure you could practice this scale the regular old boring way. Or you can practice the cool way, with corresponding chords for EACH note!!!

ADVANCED

G Major (GMaj)

A Major (AMaj)

Ab Melodic Minor

Ab Bb B Db Eb F G

A very important scale to know. The Melodic Minor Scale is a PARENT to several important modes: Lydian Dominant, Altered Dominant, Lydian Augmented, etc... You need to memorize this scale. 

B Minor (Bmin)

Ab Locrian 6


Ab A B Db D F Gb

You can use this with just a Ab-Gb voicing.  Or a Minor 7th interval. 

Abminor7 Chord Extensions: Ab-B-Eb-Gb

Chord Name

Chord Spelling

Helpful Tips and Notes

Abmin7

Ab-B-Eb-Gb


D E F# G A B C#

The standard voicing for a Abmin7 chord 

Abmin9

Ab-B-Eb-Gb-Bb

Add an "Bb" to a Abmin7.

Abmin9(11)

F# Minor (F#min)

Ab B Eb Gb Bb Db

Add an 'Bb' and a 'Db' to a Abmin7. 

Abmin13(9,11)

Ab B Eb Gb Bb Db F

Don't let all the notes fool you. The Abmin13 is actually not a complicated chord. See it as an Bb minor on top and a Ab minor on bottom (Bmin/Abmin). 

G Major (GMaj)

Ab7 (Dominant) Chords, Scales, and Extensions

Scales to use over a Ab7 chord: Ab-C-Eb-Gb

Chord Name

Scale to Use

Helpful Tips and Notes

Ab Mixolydian

Ab Bb C Db Eb F Gb

D E F# G A B C#

You absolutely NEED to memorize this scale. It is not only the standard go to scale for a Dominant Chord but it also the foundation of the Dominant Bepop scale which Glenn Gibson and Mike Bereal use so much.

Ionian Augmented (Sean's)

E Gb Ab A B C

This is my favorite scale to use over a Dominant. It has a double augmented second jump between the C and the E, It's different and you won't find many musicians using it. Also, consider using run fragments, part of the scale and changing to an Altered Dominant halfway through. There are a lot of combinations you can think of. Notice that I started on the Bb in the Right Hand. The Left Hand can play the TriTone C-Gb. Get Creative!

F# Minor (F#min)

Whole-Tone Scale

Ab Bb C D E Gb

Use this scale to resolve to a AbMaj chord. It can be used where you want a Ab7b13 voicing. Ideally 

Altered Dominant / Super Locrian / Diminished Whole-Tone Scale

Ab A B C D E Gb

To use this scale correctly, make sure you highlight the "color" tones. That means you highlight the A the B. Emphasize the D if you want a nice flavor since it is the TriTone interval from the root. On the upper extensions you my want to accenture E (the b13th)

ADVANCED Scales (Limited to Certain Extensions)

G Major (GMaj)

A Major (AMaj)

Lydian Dominant

Ab Bb C D Eb F Gb

Use this over a Ab7#11 chord. It's basically a AbMixolydian with a raised 4th.

B Minor (Bmin)

Mixolydian b6

Ab Bb C Db Eb E Gb 

More than just a scale! This is an entire structure. Let me say this if you hear something cool on a Youtube Video or MIDI File. Just check to see if this is the scale being used. Yes It can be used with a V7 (Eb-Db) or just holding a Ab as the root and it has multiple chord voicings and uses. Songs based off of this scale would be: The Promise (Andrae Crouch, Total Praise (Richard Smallwood), etc...

Dominant Diminished (Half-Whole Scale)

Ab A B C D Eb F Gb 

For Advanced Musicians Only!! The dominant diminished scale is more than a scale it is a SOUND. Study the "sound" the notes make instead of studying the notes in order. Also notice that this scale contains 2 diminished 7 chords: Ab-B-D-F and A-C-Eb-Gb as well as the Dominant chord: Ab-C-Eb-Gb.... The scale uses 8 notes which emphasize the b9 #9 and #11. Use carefully!

Ab Dominant7th chord extensions: Ab-C-Eb-Gb

Chord Name

Chord Spelling

Helpful Tips and Notes

C tritone or Gb tritone

D E F# G A B C#

C-Gb or Gb-C

Use this two note tritone in the left hand as a quick way to represent the Ab7 voicing. In fact, rarely is a Dominant Chord played as listed above (Ab-C-Eb-Gb), if you are playing a scale or melody with the right hand this would be the GO-TO voicing to play with your left hand.

Ab13(no 5)

Gb-C-F-Ab

The 13th no 5 chord is an important table chord to know for gospel music. Please see the video on Tye Tribbett's "sinking" for a full explanation.

Ab9

Ab-C-Eb-Gb-Bb

This is the first common extension of the Dominant Chord. The Eb is unnecessary if you need room. The 'Ab' is unneccesary if you want to play it as a 'rootless' voicing

F# Minor (F#min)

Ab9#11

Ab-C-Eb-Gb-Bb-D

Same as the prior chord but with an added #11 which is the D

Ab9(13)#11

Ab-C-Eb-Gb-Bb-D-F

Same as the prior chord but with an added 13 which is the F. Another way to look at this would be Bbmajor over Ab7. In addition do not confuse a b5 and a #11. In the #11 it is the Upper Extension that is altered, the 5 remains unchanged. This is why in this voicing the Eb in the Ab-C-Eb-Gb remains virtually unchanged. 

Ab7#9#5

Ab-C-E-Gb-B

A cool way to voice a Ab7 chord. Essentially a E Major over Ab7. So you could literally play LH: Ab-C-Gb      RH: E-Ab-B for the same sound

Ab7b9b5

 Ab-C-Gb-A-D

The TriTone Substitution. So if you are playing a Dominant Chord with the right hand, a dissonant voicing to add would be to access the sound of a Major Triad a "Tritone" interval away from the Root.  This means playing lines that have a distinct  DMajor or Ab7. **You must remember not to use this chart literally but to allow the voicings to give ideas and suggestions for accessing various sounds. 

Ab7b9#9

Ab-C-Gb-A-B

This interesting voicing takes the 9th note, the Bb, and splits it up and down, playing the neighboring notes around it.

Ab7#9b5

Ab-C-Gb-Ab-B-D

This has a sound that is very closely related to the half-diminished sound. Move the C down a half-step and the entire chord changes to a Ab Half-Diminished voicing. This means that you need to be intentional when using this chord in order to achieve the sound you are looking for

Ab7b9#9b5

Ab-C-Gb-A-B-D

Ab13b9

Ab-Gb-A-C-F

One of Cory's favorites. He used this chord quality on the Intro of "Yesterday." It was an A13b9, but its is the quality that is important not the key. Side Note: If you want to use the chord the way Cory used it to lead to a Abmajor then you need to play an Eb13b9, which is Eb-Db-E-G-C

Ab7b9#5

Ab-C-E-Gb-A

Essentially an A minor Over Ab

Ab7 Altered

Ab-C-Gb-A-B-D-E

The chord that is most "out there." Although it is a Dominant Voicing, it contains all of possible color tones and extensions of the Ab7 chord. 

G Major (GMaj)

Ab Half-Diminished Tips

Scales to use with Half-Diminished Chords: Ab-B-D-Gb

Chord Name

Scale to Use

Helpful Tips and Notes

Ab Locrian

D E F# G A B C#

Ab-A-B-Db-D-E-Gb

The Locrian scale is the primary scale to improvise with over a Half-Diminished chord. The characteristics of this scale are the b2 and the b5. 

Ab Locrian Nat.2

Ab-Bb-B-Db-D-E-Gb

The Locrian Nat. 2 scale is another scale to improvise with over a Half-Diminished chord. It is the same as the Locrian Scale except the the 2nd degree is natural instead of flat. Hence the name: Locrian Natural 2

F# Minor (F#min)

Ab Locrian Nat.6

Ab-A-B-Db-D-F-Gb

The Locrian Nat.  scale is another scale to improvise with over a Half-Diminished chord. It is the same as the Locrian Scale except the the 6th degree is natural instead of flat. 

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