Let’s learn how to play an A flat major chord on keyboard and piano. To put this chord into perspective, let’s first of all take a look at the Ab major scale.
Ab Major Scale
Ab is the 1st note or tonic (root) of the major scale. Bb is the 2nd note or major second. C is the 3rd note of the scale or the major 3rd. Db is the 4th note or the perfect fourth. Eb is the 5th note or the perfect 5th. F is the 6th note or major sixth of the A flat major scale. G is the 7th note or the major 7th. And Ab, one octave higher is the perfect 8th.
How To Form A Flat Major Chord
Like every major triad, this chord is formed by combining the root, major third and perfect fifth of the major scale. In other words you play notes, 1, 3 and 5 of the scale. These notes areAb – C – Eb. Play Ab, C and Eb together and that’s it… an A-flat major chord!
Half Step Formula For Forming Ab Maj Chord
There’s another formula for forming this and every other major chord and it involves half steps. This formula is R + 4HS + 3 HS (root plus 4 half steps + 3 half steps). A half step is the distance between a key and the key to its immediate right or left. For example, E to F is a half step and C to C sharp is a half step as well. So to form an A flat major chord start by locating the Ab key on your piano keyboard. Ab is the key in the middle of the set of three black keys on your keyboard (or the 2nd key in the set of three blacks keys). Now that you’ve found Ab, simply move 4 half steps higher, or four keys to the right and you will arrive on C. After C, simply move 3 half steps higher, or 3 keys to the right of C and you will arrive on the key, Eb.
Construct Ab Major Chord By Skipping Keys
Another way to think of forming major chords like A-flat on piano is in terms of skipping keys. Locate A flat then skip 3 keys; the key after is C. Then skip 2 keys from C and the key right after is Eb.
Ab Chord In Root Position, 1st and 2nd Inversions
We now take this lesson one step further and talk about other ways of holding this chord. Until now we’ve looked at the Ab major chord in its root position. We placed Ab at the bottom, C in the middle, and Eb at the top of the chord (Ab – C – Eb). There are other ways to hold this chord and they’re called inversions.
For the first inversion, the notes are in the order C – Eb – Ab. C is at the bottom, Eb in the middle and Ab is at the top.
For the second inversion of Abmaj, Eb is at the bottom, C is in the middle and Ab is at the top. This gives us the order, Eb – Ab – C.
Here’s a diagram illustrating this.
Piano Fingering of A-Flat Major Chord
What about the fingering for this chord on piano? What fingers play what keys? Let’s find out. First of all the fingers of your right hand are numbered from 1 to 5. Your thumb is finger 1, index finger is 2, middle finger is 3, ring finger is 4 and little (pinky) finger is finger 5.
In root position, the fingering is 1 – 3 – 5. Thumb plays Ab, middle finger plays C and little finger plays Eb.
For the first inversion, the fingering is 1 – 2 – 5. Thumb plays C, index finger plays Eb and little finger plays Ab.
For the second inversion of the Ab major chord, the fingering is 1 – 3 – 5. Thumb plays Eb, middle finger plays Ab and little finger plays C.
These piano fingerings are great for beginners, especially youngsters with small hands. But as you progress as a piano player, these fingerings vary. This is because you would have to add extra notes to the chord. Also, fingering depends on what chords come before and after as well as what melody one is playing. I guess it’s all about taking things one step at a time. So let’s keep it simple and start with the above foundation. 🙂
Video: How To Play Ab Major Chord On Piano
The following video shows you how to play the Ab maj chord in root position, 1st and 2nd inversions.
The relative minor chord or key for A-flat major (based on the 6th note of the major scale) is F minor.
Chords In The Key Of A Flat Major – Learn about the chords in the key of Ab.