Learn how to play the Ab major scale on the piano! The Ab scale has 4 flats and is such a beautiful key to play in. I’ll make this scale easy to learn with note diagrams, sheet music, fingerings and more.
What is the Ab scale in piano?
The Ab scale, simply put, is a major scale that both starts and ends on the note “A flat.” It follows the typical pattern of half steps and whole steps that builds a major scale. As a result, you get a scale with 4 flats and 3 white notes.
What are the notes in the Ab major scale?
The notes in an Ab scale are as follows: Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, and finally G. I’ll show you diagrams and sheet music with these notes soon.
BEFORE You Begin
The A flat major scale is considered an intermediate scale, so you don’t want to start with it if you are a beginner! If you are just starting to learn scales, you’ll want to start with white key scales first. Here’s a list to refer to:
Once you learn the white key scales, you can move on to the 2 different groups of black key scales.
Only after finishing white key scales and group 1 black key scales do I recommend moving forward!
A Flat Scale Piano Notes & Fingerings
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get right into the details about the A flat scale! Below you can start looking at the notes in the scale on a piano diagram. You will also find the fingerings for both right and left hand underneath.
How to Play the Ab Scale on the Piano
To play the A flat scale on the piano, press down each note shown in the diagram above, starting with the Ab on the far left and working your way to the Ab on the far right. Each note should be played as its own distinct note, yet still connected (don’t blur them together, but also don’t play them too short).
As far as fingering, Ab has some good points and some harder points. The left hand is easy—it is exactly the same as most of the other black key scales.
But the right hand is a bit more unique. You’re going to start with your 3 on Ab and then play your 4 on Bb. Tuck your thumb under to play 1 on C, then reposition your hand and play 2 on Db and 3 on Eb. Tuck your thumb under once more and play 1 on F, 2 on G and 3 on Ab at the top!
And now you’ve played the A flat scale all the way up! Practice each hand separately until you get down the notes and fingerings well. Then, you can put your hands together.
Ab Major Scale On The Staff
It is always a good idea to look at scales on the staff, rather than just relying on the piano. Below you can see the Ab major scale both on treble clef and bass clef.
Some Scale Tips
If you’re having trouble really mastering A flat, here are some tips to help you out:
There are fingering patterns. The great thing about Ab is there are some patterns that can help you remember the fingering. First of all, both of your thumbs always play on C. And second of all, your 4th finger will always play on Bb in the right hand. This is a rule that works for the Eb and Bb scales too, by the way!
Look at the groupings. Recognizing the way the notes are grouped together can really help with black key scales. In the case of Ab, the black notes come in groups of two, with white notes in between. There is a group of 2 black notes + 1 white note, and then a group of 2 black notes + 2 white notes.
Don’t forget to go slowly. Just because you’ve learned a lot of scales already doesn’t mean you should rush when you get to this scale. It is still a wise idea to start off slow as you learn the Ab scale. Once you get more confident in the fingerings and the notes, then you can start to pick up the pace.
All major scales follow a formula as far as intervals go. Here is this formula: W-W-H-W-W-W-H. The W’s stand for “whole step” and the H’s stand for “half step.
So written out the long way, the formula is: whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step.
You can use this formula any time to figure out a major scale!
When you use this formula, it also creates a relationship between the tonic (the very first note) and all the other notes. An interval can be formed between the tonic and each note of the scale. Here’s what that looks like for Ab major:
- Tonic: Ab
- Major 2nd: Bb
- Major 3rd: C
- Perfect 4th: Db
- Perfect 5th: Eb
- Major 6th: F
- Major 7th: G
- Perfect 8th: Ab
Another way to look at a scale is by “degrees.” Here are the scale degrees for the key of A flat:
- Tonic: Ab
- Supertonic: Bb
- Mediant: C
- Subdominant: Db
- Dominant: Eb
- Submediant: F
- Leading tone: G
- Octave: Ab
Triad Chords In The Key Of Ab
Did you know a chord can also be built off of EVERY note in the Ab scale? That’s right! It is a great exercise to practice finding these chords in each key. Ab has a pretty even amount of white key chords and black key chords to pay attention to.
Chord I: Ab major (notes are Ab – C – Eb)
Chord ii: Bb minor (notes are Bb – Db – F)
Chord iii: C minor (notes are C – Eb – C)
Chord IV: Db major (notes are Db – F – Ab)
Chord V: Eb major (notes are Eb – G – Bb)
Chord vi: F minor (notes are F – Ab – C)
Chord vii: G diminished (notes are G – Bb – Db)
Is Ab Major The Same As F Minor?
F minor is not the exact same key as Ab major, but it is called the “relative minor.” All major keys have relative minors! This basically just means they have the same number of sharps in the key signature. F minor has 4 flats just like Ab major.
How Do You Write An A Flat Scale?
To write an Ab scale, grab a piece of blank sheet music and a pencil. You can write down the scale 2 different ways. You can copy the diagram I provided above, showing each note with the flat beside it. OR, you can show the key signature on the far left, and then show the notes without any flats. It is up to you! Either way, it is a great idea to practice notating your scales.
Scales To Learn Next:
Give yourself a bat on the back—you only have one more black key scale to learn! If I were you I would head on over to this post about the Bb major scale. After you learn Bb you’ll know all your major scales, which is a great accomplishment.
Of course, you can also take a look at the scales that are the enharmonic equivalent of other black key scales (meaning they have the same notes but different spellings). These include Gb major, C# major, and D# major. But looking at these scales is really just to have the music theory knowledge. You won’t have to play any different notes or fingerings on the piano.
More Music Theory:
Don’t stop at scales! There is plenty more to learn about music theory, like chords and rhythms. Here are some posts you might want to read next:
The Ab scale has 4 flats and 3 white keys. It is a beautiful, mellow scale to play and there are lots of helpful tricks that can help you memorize it faster. So now it’s your turn—sit down at the piano and start practicing! Start out slowly, practicing each hand separately until you master the fingerings and notes. Then, try them together. With enough practice, you’ll master the Ab major scale in no time!