Guitar Keys

The Key of Ab Major for Guitar

The Key of A Flat for Guitar

While not a common key for guitarists the key of Ab major has unique characteristics when it comes to the guitar, including:

Chord Shapes and Voicings: Playing in the key of Ab major on the guitar can involve using barre chords and complex fingerings due to the presence of multiple flats in the key’s signature. This can challenge guitarists to explore different chord shapes and voicings.

Fretboard Navigation: Since the key of Ab major includes 4 flats, guitarists need to be familiar with the locations of flat notes on the fretboard. This can improve overall fretboard navigation and understanding.

The key of Ab major includes the notes: AbBbCDbEbFG

Notes in The Key of Ab Major

When assembled sequentially the notes form the Ab major scale.

Ab Major or G# Major?

In Western music, the key of Ab major is more commonly used than the key of G# major. This is due to the way key signatures are constructed and the practicality of notation.

Here’s why Ab major is more common:

Key Signatures: When notating music with key signatures, the key of Ab major has four flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, and Db). G# major, on the other hand, would require eight sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, and B#), which is less practical to notate.

Circle of Fifths: The circle of fifths, a common musical tool for understanding key relationships, usually uses flat keys rather than sharp keys. This aligns with the key of Ab major and its presence in the circle.

Historical Usage: Ab major has historical and traditional significance in classical music and has been used in various compositions, making it more familiar and recognized.

Common Modulations: Ab major is often used as a modulation destination due to its relative ease of modulation from other keys.

While G# major is not as common as Ab major, it can still appear in certain contexts, such as compositions that specifically explore remote or exotic tonalities. In practical musical notation and usage, however, Ab major is more prevalent.

The Ab Major Scale Step Pattern

The Ab Major Scale Step Pattern

The Ab Major scale (like all major scales) follows the step pattern of:
whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.

The Ab Major Scale on Guitar

One way to play the Ab major scale is to use the caged E shape scale pattern shown below. Keep in mind scales can be played in many different ways.

The A Flat Major Scale (Chart and Tabs)

Chords In The Key Of Ab Major

All chords constructed from major scales follow the pattern of:

Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, diminished.

A Flat Major Chord (Abmaj)
B Flat Minor Chord (Bbmin)
C Minor Chord (Cmin)
D Flat Major Chord (Dbmaj)
E Flat Major Chord (Ebmaj)
F Minor Chord (Fmin)
G Diminished Chord (Gdim)

Each of these triad chords (chords containing 3 notes) is formed by taking a note from the Ab major scale as the root and stacking notes in thirds on top of it.

Below are the chords and their respective notes from the Ab major scale:

Ab MajorAb, C, Eb
bb minorBb, D, F
c minorC, Eb, G
Db MajorDb, F, Ab
Eb MajorEb, G, Bb
f minorF, Ab, C
g diminishedG, Bb, Db

7th Chords in Ab Major

Seventh chords are four-note chords that consist of a root note, a third, a fifth, and an additional note called the seventh. The seventh note adds complexity and color to the chord, creating a richer harmonic character. There are several types of seventh chords, each with its unique sound and function in music.

A Flat Major 7 Chord (Abmaj7)
B Flat Minor Chord (Bbmin)
C Minor 7 Chord (Cmin7)
D Flat Major 7 Chord (Dbmaj7)
E Flat Dominant 7 Chord (Eb7)
F Minor 7 Chord (Fmin7)
G Minor 7 Flat 5 Chord (Gmin7b5)
Ab Major 7Ab, C, Eb, G
bb minor 7Bb, Db, F, Ab
c minor 7C, Eb, G, Bb
Db Major 7Db, F, Ab, C
Eb Dominant 7 (Eb7)Eb, G, Bb, Db
f minor 7F, Ab, C, Eb
G Half-Diminished 7 (Minor 7 Flat 5)G, Bb, Db, F

Chord Function

Chords play very specific roles within keys due to the interplay between the notes that make up the chords, which allows for interesting chord progressions.

For example, the V chord, or dominant chord in the key of Ab Major (Ebmaj) plays an important role in this regard, due to its instability when compared to the root Ab Major. This instability introduces tension which pulls us back to the tonic chord (Abmaj).

Ab Majbb mincminDbmajEbmajfmingdim
* Capitals denote Major chords, lower case denotes minor chords.

Common Chord Progressions In Ab Major

I – V – vi – IVAbmaj – Ebmaj – fmin – Dbmaj
I – IV – VAbmaj – Dbmaj – Ebmaj
I – vi – IV – VAbmaj – fmin – Dbmaj – Ebmaj
I – IV – vi – VAbmaj – Dbmaj – fmin – Ebmaj
I – V – vi – iii – IVAbmaj – Ebmaj – fmin – cmin – Dbmaj

Relative Minor

The Relative Minor of Ab Major is F Minor


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