Today I am looking at the Ab key and found out the possible chords will be

Ab, Bbm, Cm, Db, Eb, Fm and Gdim.

However I have tried AbMaj7, Bbm6/G, Bbm6/G then Cm but I feel dissonance with the Bbm6/G. After that I have switched it to Bb6/G and it feel much better.

I don't know if I am on the right track doing that as it seems it violates the major and minor sequences of a key. Can someone help me out to rationalise it?

  • FYI when you say possible chords in a key you really mean diatonic chords which are chords made entirely of notes that are in the key you are in. However as you see now you can borrow chords from other keys and they are possible and as you found sometimes sound really good. It is very common to use chords that are not diatonic. – b3ko Apr 10 '19 at 11:55
  • You can also play: Ab Ab Bb6/G C7 Fm and you will have re-invented one of the greatest hits ever written ... – Albrecht Hügli Apr 10 '19 at 12:44
  • How about Bbm6/G - C7 - Fm, does that feel bad too? – piiperi Reinstate Monica Apr 10 '19 at 13:48
  • The dissonance that you hear is a tritone (G - Db). Avoiding the tritone by means of chromaticism has been going on for centuries. More common in popular music is the bVII (lowered root rather than raised fifth), but in your context the Gm7 (=Bb/G) chord is appropriate. – Mirlan Apr 10 '19 at 23:33
  • @piiperi yes...i feel bad with the chord sequence too – memea Apr 11 '19 at 2:17

The difference between your two chords is a single half step: in your original chord you have D♭, but in your preferred chord you have D♮.

Since you're moving to C minor, it's possible that you're viewing that C as a temporary tonic. As such, you prefer the chord with D♮ since that helps makes C-as-tonic a bit more clear. This is because D is in the C scale, but D♭ is not.

Try playing a G7 chord in place of the B♭6/G; how do you like that sound? If that's more what you're looking for, then you're aiming for what we call an applied chord (or "secondary dominant") of C.

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Violate that key all you like! The diatonic notes of any key are a framework, not a restriction.

Anyway, you're banging out that G root, then going to Cm. There's a dominant-tonic feel there, G to C. 'Allow' yourself the notes of C minor.

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I don't mean to offend, but I think you need much more practice, using the chords to accompany melodies, for the theory to make sense. Do you know what it means that a song is "in a key"? How many songs have you played, with melody and chords, in Ab major? How many in F minor? Have you used the chords you listed in the songs? Have you tried substituting the chords with different chords? Have you ever played a song where the melody has the note Db, and for it the suggested accompaniment chord is Bbm6/G? Have you tried playing a Bb/G or Gm7 as accompaniment for that Db note? How did it work - did it feel better or worse in that context?

If you have never played a song where a Bbm6/G chord is used to accompany a Db note, then where have you seen it used? What melody notes were there? For songs that are in the key of A minor, you're looking for a melody note F and accompaniment chord Dm6/B. If you've never encountered such a song, then you need much, much more actual practice, less theory. :)

Good luck!

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