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Abm11 Piano Chord

    Piano Diagram of Abm11 in Root Position

    Ab m11 Chord Piano Chart

    The Abm11 chord is a six-note chord that includes the root note (Ab), the minor third (Cb), the perfect fifth (Eb), the minor seventh (Gb), the major ninth (Bb), and the eleventh (Db). This chord is commonly used as a variation or modulation for minor 7th chords. Keep reading to learn something more about this chord.


    Structure of Abm11


    Ab, Cb, Eb, Gb, Bb, Db


    R, m3, 5, m7, 9, 11

    Playing Extended Chords on Piano

    Extended chords are commonly used in piano playing, but they can be tricky to play in their entirety due to the large number of notes involved. To make these chords more manageable, pianists often omit certain notes, such as the root or the 5th. Another technique is to split the chord between both hands, playing either full or partial chords in each hand.

    How to play an Abm11

    For instance, in this scenario, you may opt to play a simplified version of Abm11 by omitting the 5th and 9th notes. This way, you will only need to play the root note Ab (which can be played using your left hand), the minor 3rd Cb (B), the minor 7th Gb, and the 11th note Db with your right hand.

    Ab + Cb, Gb, Db

    However, even when notes are omitted or split between hands, extended chords can still create complex and dense harmonies. When these chords are inverted, the resulting clusters of notes can be particularly challenging to voice effectively.


    Abm11 Chord Inversions


    The Abm11 chord has a total of 5 inversions:

    Root Position: Ab Cb Eb Gb Bb Db
    1st Inversion: Cb Eb Gb Ab Bb Db
    2nd Inversion: Eb Gb Ab Bb Cb Db
    3rd Inversion: Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb
    4th Inversion: Bb Cb Db Eb Gb Ab
    5th Inversion Db Eb  Gb Ab Bb Cb

    Piano Keyboard Diagrams

    Chord Inversion on Piano

    Understanding chord inversions is an essential aspect of music theory as it helps to explain how chords are constructed and used in progressions. When playing chord inversions on a piano, it’s important to keep in mind that the diagrams used to illustrate the order of notes may not always be practical to play.

    To achieve the proper chord voicings on a piano, you need to distribute the notes of the chord across various octaves and positions on the keyboard. This often means that the basic shape of the chord’s inversions shown in diagrams may not be the most convenient or comfortable way to play the chord.

    While chord inversion diagrams can be useful in comprehending the structure and sequence of notes in a chord, it’s recommended to experiment with different voicings and fingerings to find the most efficient and comfortable way to play the chord while still preserving its intended harmonic function and sound.

    Music Theory and Harmony of Abm11


    The Abm11 chord is a diatonic extension of Abm7. While it can be substituted for the Abm7 chord in any position, it is commonly used in conjunction with it. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that certain positions may not be as effective when substituting Abm11 for Abm7.


    Building the Abm11 Chord: Different Approaches

    Starting from the Ab Major Scale

    To build a minor 11th chord, you would use the root note, the minor third, the fifth, the minor seventh, the major ninth, and the eleventh from a minor scale. However, for educational purposes, it may be clearer to demonstrate its construction using a major scale, as it better illustrates the relationship between intervals and their qualities.


    Ab Major Diatonic Scale up to 13th

    Ab Major Scale


    Ab Major Diatonic Scale up to 13th Keyless Notation

    Ab Major Scale – Keyless Notation


    To create an Abm11 chord, apply the formula R, m3, 5, m7, 9, 11 in the following manner:

    1. Begin with the Root note, which is Ab.
    2. Select the 3rd interval, which is C, and then subtract a half-step to get the minor 3rd Cb (which is a natural B but we call it Cb to preserve the basic interval structure of the chord).
    3. Add the 5th interval, which is Eb.
    4. Add the minor 7th interval, which is the 7th (G) less a half-step, Gb.
    5. Add the major 9th which is Bb.
    6. Lastly, add the 11th Db, which is a 4th interval at the higher octave.

    By following this simple formula, you can create a minor 11th chord from any major scale.


    by Combining Intervals

    One method to create a minor 11th chord is by combining specific intervals – a minor 3rd, a major 3rd, a minor 3rd, a major 3rd and a minor 3rd. This is the formula:

    m3 + 3 + m3 + 3 + m3 =  minor 11th Chords

    • To create an Abm11 chord, we start with the root note Ab and then add a minor 3rd interval, which is equivalent to moving up three half-steps from Ab, resulting in the note Cb (B).
    • Following this, we include a major 3rd interval by moving three half-steps up from Cb, which leads to the note Eb.
    • This pattern is continued by adding another minor 3rd interval, which brings the note Gb, followed by a major 3rd interval, leading to the note Bb.
    • Lastly, we add the 11th note (Db), which is found by moving up a minor 3rd from Bb, to complete the chord.


    by Combining Chords

    Another way to create minor 11th chords is to combine a minor triad with the major chord based on its minor 7th. For example, to build an Abm11 chord, you can mix an Ab minor triad (Ab, Cb, Eb) with a Gb Major chord (Gb, Bb, Db).

    Ab minor + Gb Major = Abm11

    When played simultaneously, these two chords form an Abm11 chord (Ab, Cb, Eb, Gb, Bb, Db).


    How to Use Abm11 in a Chord Progression


    The Ab minor 11th is an extension of the Ab minor 7th, with the addition of an extra 9th and an 11th note. This makes it a much fuller, more complex, and richer chord than Abm7.

    In this post, we will focus on the most common uses of the Abm11 chord. The tables of the major and minor keys below include the Ab minor 7th chord, which can be substituted or complemented by an Ab minor 11th chord.

    Abm11 in Theoretical Keys

    In most cases, the Abm11 chord is found in theoretical keys rather than commonly used keys. To simplify and make it more practical, it is often preferred to refer to the enharmonic equivalent keys of these theoretical keys.


    on Natural minor Scales

    Minor Scales i ii III iv v VI VII
    Ab Ab min7 ⇒ Abm11 Bbm7b5 Cb Maj7 Db min7 Eb min7 Fb Maj7 Gb7
    Eb Eb min7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7 Ab min7 ⇒ Abm11 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7
    Db = C# C# min7 D#m7b5 E Maj7 F# min7 G#m7 ⇒ G#m11 = Abm11 A Maj7 B7
    • Tonic chord in Ab minor
    • Subdominant chord in Eb minor
    • Non-diatonic Dominant chord in C# minor as G#min11


    on Major Scales

    Major Scales I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Gb Gb Maj7 Ab min7 ⇒ Abm11 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 Eb min7 Fm7b5
    Fb = E E Maj7 F# min7 G#m7 ⇒ G#m11 = Abm11 A Maj7 B7 C# min7 D#m7b5
    Cb = B B Maj7 C# mi7 D# min7 E Maj7 F#7 G#m7 ⇒ G#m11 = Abm11 A#m7b5
    • Supertonic chord in Gb Major
    • Non-diatonic Mediant chord in E Major as G#min11
    • Submediant chord in B Major as G#min11


    Non-diatonic positions in Db minor and E Major

    It’s important to note that the major ninth interval Bb clashes with the A note found in both the Db minor and Fb major scales, as they are only a half step apart. As a result, it’s generally recommended to avoid using a minor 11th chord in this particular position. However, rather than simply telling you to avoid it altogether, I believe the best approach is to test the dissonance of the Abm11 chord in those positions and make a judgment call based on your preferences.


    Abm11 Function in Major and Minor Keys

    Understanding Scale Degrees

    Understanding scale degrees is essential for comprehending the relationship between the notes within chords and how they function. The diatonic major scale consists of seven degrees, each with a distinct role in shaping the overall harmony of the chords.

    1. The first degree of the scale is the Tonic, serving as the foundation for the chord progression. It establishes a stable tonal center, providing an anchor for the rest of the chords in the progression.
    2. The second degree is called the Supertonic, often used to create a sense of motion within the chord progression. It acts as a transitional chord between the Tonic and other chords in the progression.
    3. The third degree of the scale is the Mediant, sitting halfway between the Tonic and Dominant chords. It helps determine whether the chord progression is major or minor.
    4. The fourth degree is the Subdominant, complementing the Dominant and adding tension and resolution to the chord progression.
    5. The fifth degree is the Dominant, creating tension and anticipation within the chord progression, typically resolved by returning to the Tonic.
    6. The sixth degree is the Submediant, often employed as a transitional chord between the Dominant and Tonic, adding a sense of stability and restfulness to the chord progression.
    7. The seventh degree is the Leading tone, located one half-step below the Tonic. It creates a strong sense of tension and a desire to resolve to the Tonic, frequently used to create a sense of resolution and finality in the chord progression.


    Abm11 as Tonic Chord in Ab minor

    The Ab minor 11th chord is an interesting and distinct choice for the tonic chord in the Ab minor key. It creates a complex and ambiguous harmonic center due to the presence of the 11th interval (Db), which adds tension and dissonance to the chord. This dissonance results in a sense of instability and uncertainty, which can be utilized to create a feeling of tension. However, it’s important to note that this dissonance can also make the chord challenging to use in certain musical contexts.

    The Abm11 can be used to modulate between keys or to add harmonic color and contrast to a composition.

    i ii III iv v VI VII
    Ab min7 Bbm7b5 Cb Maj7 Db min7 Eb min7 Fb Maj7 Gb7


    Abm11 Chord Progressions as i degree

    The following chord progressions are examples of how the Ab minor 11th chord can serve as the tonic chord (i degree).

    i VI VII III
    i VI VII III
    Abm11 | Abm7

    Ab (Gb, B, Db) | Ab (Gb, B, Eb)

    Fb Maj7 Gb7 Cb Maj7

    To voice the Abm11 chord, you can consider playing the Ab root note with your left hand while using your right hand to play the notes Gb (minor 7th), B (minor 3rd), and Db (11th). Likewise, for the Abm7 chord, you can play the Ab root note with your left hand and utilize your right hand to play the notes Gb, B, and Eb.

    i iv VI VII
    i iv VI VII
    Abm11 | Abm7 Db min7 Fb Maj7 Gb7

    I have a preference for resolving the Ab min11 chord to a more stable Ab chord, such as Ab minor or Ab minor 7th, within the same measure. However, I highly encourage you to explore various options and experiment with different chord progressions to discover what sounds best to you.


    Circle Progression
    i iv VII III VI ii V7 i
    Abm11 | Abm7 Dbm7 Gb7 Cb Maj7 Fb Maj7 Bbm7b5 Eb7 Ab min7


    Abm11 as Subdominant Chord in Eb minor

    The Ab minor 11th can also be played as the subdominant chord in the key of Eb natural minor.

    i ii III iv v VI VII
    Eb min7 Fm7b5 Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7


    Abm11 Chord Progressions as iv degree

    The following chord progressions feature an Abm11 chord as the subdominant (iv degree):


    iv III VI VII
    iv III VI VII
    Abm11 | Abm7 Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Db7


    i iv VI v
    i iv VI v
    Eb min7 Abm11 | Abm7 Cb Maj7 Bb min7


    Circle Progression
    i iv VII III VI ii V7 i
    Eb min7 Abm11 | Abm7 Db7 Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Fm7b5 Bb7 Eb min7


    Abm11 in Db minor (Non-Diatonic)

    Check G#m11 in C# minor


    Abm11 as Supertonic Chord in Gb Major

    In addition to its application in minor keys, the Abm11 chord can be employed in major keys as well. For example, in the key of Gb major, the Abm11 chord can function as the supertonic chord, found on the second degree of the scale.

    I ii iii IV V vi vii
    Gb Maj7 Ab min7 Bb min7 Cb Maj7 Db7 Eb min7 Fm7b5


    Abm11 Chord Progressions as ii degree

    Try playing the following chord progressions to better understand how the Abm11 chord functions as the supertonic (ii) chord in the key of Gb major.

    ii V I
    ii V I
    Abm11 | Abm7 Db7 Gb Maj7


    Circle Progression
    I IV vii iii vi ii V I
    Gb Maj7 Cb Maj7 Fm7b5 Bb min7 Eb min7 Abm11 | Abm7 Db7 Gb Maj7


    Abm11 in Fb Major (Non-Diatonic)

    Check G#m11 in E Major


    Abm11 in Cb Major

    Check G#m11 in B Major


    Alternative Abm11 Nomenclature

    • Ab -11
    • Ab m11
    • Ab -7/11
    • Ab min11
    • Ab m11th
    • Ab min11th
    • Ab min7/11
    • Ab m7/9/11
    • Ab minor 11
    • Ab minor 11th
    • Ab minor eleventh
    • Ab minor ninth eleventh
    • Ab minor seventh ninth eleventh



    The chord progressions and examples presented in this post provide a comprehensive overview of the most common uses of the Abm11 chord. It’s important to note, however, that many advanced harmony-related topics could not be included due to space constraints. These topics include chord progressions built on harmonic and melodic scales, modal scales, hidden tonality, secondary dominants and other chord substitutions, non-functional harmony and atonal music, modal interchange and borrowed chords, voice leading and counterpoint, chromatisms, jazz harmony…I mean, music theory is a huge topic!

    Although I couldn’t cover all of these topics in my post, I encourage readers to continue exploring these areas in their own study and research. By expanding your knowledge in these advanced areas of music theory, you can gain a deeper understanding of the harmonic possibilities that exist beyond the basics presented here.

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