• Chord Analysis: The Ab Major Ninth Chord

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    We’ll be analyzing the Ab major ninth chord in this lesson.

    We posted the image below (as our chord of the day) on our Facebook page:

    …and I must say that I’m very impressed with the answers I got.

    Attention: If you’re yet to follow us on Facebook, please click over to our page, like and turn on your notification settings to be notified every time we post new contents.

    “What Is The Chord Of The Day?”

    With a cross section of some of the answers I saw on the Facebook post:

    …the Ab major ninth chord is the consensus answer and that’s not wrong.

    Here’s the Ab major ninth chord:

    …which was played using a unique rearrangement of the tones to create its voicing:

    So, the Ab major ninth chord is the correct answer for the chord of the day but that’s not all. We’ll be looking at the name, scale source, class of harmony, and voicing formula of the chord of the day.

    Let’s get started!

    The Name

    The chord is described as the Ab major ninth chord because its root is the Ab note:

    …and then, just like every other major ninth chord, the distance between the root (which is Ab):

    …and the third tone (which is C):

    …is a major third interval.

    Attention: All Ab chords that are made up of Ab and C are generally classified as major chords.

    So, the Ab comes from the root of the chord (which is Ab), the major comes from the distance (aka – “interval”) between the first and the third tone of the chord.

    “So, Where Does The Ninth Come From?”

    The Bb tone:

    …is the ninth tone of the Ab major ninth chord:

    …and this is because it would take nine scale steps from Ab:

    …to get to Bb:

    Check it out:

    Ab (1), Bb (2), C (3), Db (4), Eb (5), F (6), G (7), Ab (8), Bb (9)

    So, it is the Bb tone:

    …in the Ab major ninth chord:

    …that makes it a ninth chord.

    The Scale Source

    The Ab major ninth chord consists of the first, third, fifth, seventh, and ninth (which is also the second) tone of the Ab major scale:

    So, using the Ab major scale as a reference, isolating the following tones:

    Ab, which is the first tone:

    C, which is the third tone:

    Eb, which is the fifth tone:

    G, which is the seventh tone:

    Bb, which is the ninth tone:

    …and playing them together (as a chord) produces the Ab major ninth chord:

    The Ab major ninth chord comes from the tones of the Ab major scale.

    The Class Of Harmony

    The distances between the successive tones of the Ab major ninth chord are third intervals and we can pretty much say that the notes are stacked in third intervals and here’s how it works:

    Ab to C:

    …is a third interval.

    C to Eb:

    …is a third interval.

    Eb to G:

    …is a third interval.

    G to Bb:

    …is a third interval.

    So, there are third intervals between the successive notes of the Ab major ninth chord and this class of harmony is known as the tertian harmony.

    The Voicing Formula

    Let’s take another look at the chord of the day:

    You can clearly see that instead of the regular Ab major ninth chord:

    …the chord is rearranged in a way that “Gb-Bb-C-Eb” (which is the second inversion of the C minor seventh chord):

    …is played over “Ab-Eb-G” (the Ab major seventh chord [with an omitted third]):

    This rearrangement is called a voicing and every voicing has a formula that is derived from the tones of the major scale that are used in the formation of the chord.

    So, we have Ab (the first tone), Eb (the fifth tone), and G (the seventh tone):

    …on the left hand and the voicing formula is “1-5-7.”

    Then on the right hand, we have G (the seventh tone), Bb (the ninth tone), C (the third tone), and Eb (the ninth tone):

    …and altogether, that’s the “7-9-3-5” voicing formula.

    So, you can go to any key and form this very voicing of the major ninth chord using the “1-5-7” voicing formula on the left hand and the “7-9-3-5” voicing formula on the right hand.

    The “1-5-7” formula using the C major scale as a reference:

    …produces “C-G-B” on the left hand:

    …and then when we play the “7-9-3-5” formula on the right hand, we’ll have “B-D-E-G” on the right hand:

    Altogether, we have that same voicing of the major ninth chord (starting from C):

    …and that’s the C major ninth chord:

    “What Other Bass Notes Can Go With This Chord?”

    It’s possible to play the Ab major ninth chord over other bass notes and for today, we’ll just cover these two bass notes:

    The F bass note

    The Bb bass note

    Let’s cover that quickly!

    “Over F…”

    Playing the Ab major ninth chord:

    …over F (on the bass):

    …produces the F minor eleventh chord:

    Attention: That’s the 2-chord in Eb major, 3-chord in Db major, and 6-chord in Ab major.

    “Over Bb…”

    You can also play the Ab major ninth chord:

    …over the Bb bass note:

    …and that produces the Bb dominant thirteenth [suspended fourth] chord:

    Attention: The Bb dom13[sus4] chord is a sophisticated 5-chord option in the key of Eb major and it resolves to the Eb major seventh or ninth chord.

    Final Words

    I’m sure you’ve learned a couple of things in today’s chord analysis.

    Special appreciation goes to our founder, Jermaine Griggs (who is also my role-model) for the opportunity to share with you today on the Ab major ninth chord.

    Questions, suggestions, and contributions are anticipated and I’ll keep an eye in the comment section.

    See you tomorrow!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.



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