Anyone who has listened to the legendary love song, “All of Me” by John Legend, understands its romantic potential.
This amazing ballad that Legend dedicated to his wife, Chrissy Teigen, in 2013 has caused people all over the world to fall in love with his music.
You probably didn’t make it all the way to the end without at least a moment of goosebumps or sentimental thoughts about someone dear to you.
Whether you want to play it for yourself to cherish and celebrate nostalgic emotions or you’re looking to serenade that special someone – or even woo a potential special someone – it’s a moving experience to play “All of Me,” and a handy song to have in your wheelhouse.
You are welcome to also take a look at our list of easy piano songs for other terrific songs to learn.
The Key of A Flat Major
To start off, let’s review the basics about sharps and flats. A sharp in music is when you raise a note by a half step, represented by a “#”. Conversely, a flat simply takes the note down a half step, marked by a “b”.
This is a song that’s in Ab major, meaning the “home” note is at Ab. The home or root note of a key signature is almost always where the song will end – it’s the note that feels conclusive and resolves the chord progression or melodic line.
Take a look at your piano or keyboard and locate the Ab key. It’s an easy one to find because it’s the black key right in the middle of the set of three black keys.
There are four flats in the key of Ab major, which tells you that those four notes will always be “flattened” rather than playing their natural version each and every time – unless the chords or melody deviate from the key signature. Luckily, this song stays neatly within the rules of Ab major. The four flats in Ab major are Bb, Eb, Ab, and Db.
To get a sense of which notes are going to be the “right” notes and which ones to avoid, try practicing your Ab major scale:
Ab; Bb; C; Db; Eb; F; G; Ab
Try playing your way up and down the Ab major scale until your fingers naturally go to the correct notes. The more you repeat this and master the fundamentals, the easier it will be for you to jump from chord to chord with confidence.
Now that you’ve gotten a firm handle on the scale for this song, it’s time to start learning the chords!
Major and Minor
The “majority” of the chords in this tune are major chords, which are easy to recognize by their happy sound. A few minor chords are thrown in there as well, which throw the major chords into sharp relief and give the progression a strong emotional feel.
Related Post: What are piano chords?
This “minor” detail is nothing to be worried about, though. You’ll play the minor chords the same way that you play the major ones, but you’ll know it’s a minor chord by the lower case “m” that’s noted after the chord name. Since all of the minor chords in this song are naturally minor within the key signature, you won’t even have to worry about deviating from the Ab major scale that you’ve been practicing.
“All of Me” – The Chords
We’ll start off by learning each chord as a basic triad, which is a chord made up of three notes. These are easy to play without having to stretch out your fingers too much or worry about keeping your eyes on too much of the keyboard.
You’ll be playing all of these chords with your right hand. If you’re feeling like playing these three notes at once isn’t enough of a challenge for you, try playing the root note of each chord – which is the first note listed in the triad, and is also the note name of the chord itself – with your left hand. Those who want to go above and beyond and have a bit of experience might even be able to play the root note in octaves with the left hand, meaning playing the same note – the one at the top of the scale and at the bottom of the scale – at the same time.
Below you’ll find all the chords of the song laid out, with breakdowns of all new chords listed beneath them. Working at your own pace, practice moving from each chord until you start to develop muscle memory. If you’re having trouble, instead of repeating all four chords over and over again, focus just on moving from the Fm to the Db until you have that change down, and then move on to the next change.
Repetition is key in developing muscle memory, and it’s not something that can be learned overnight or in one sitting. Also keep in mind that if you try to rush through the changes too quickly, you’ll be building up bad habits that will only have to be unlearned later. It’s much easier to take your time with it and learn the changes correctly the first time.
Fm Db Ab Eb
Fm: F; Ab; C
Db: Db; F; Ab
Ab: Ab; C; Eb
Eb: Eb; G; Bb
Fm Db Ab Eb
Fm Db Ab Eb
Fm Db Ab Eb Bbm
Bbm: Bb; Db; F
Bbm Ab Eb
Bbm Ab Eb
Ab Fm Bm Db/Eb Eb
Ab Fm Bm Db/Eb Eb
Fm Db Ab Eb
Fm Db Ab Eb
Once you’ve made it this far, you’re in luck: You’ve officially learned the whole song! The rest of the form follows the same patterns listed above, so you can refer back up to them as a guide. As you can see, the bridge is exactly the same as the pre-chorus that you learned earlier, so you’re in good shape there!
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS / BRIDGE / CHORUS
Bbm Ab Eb
Bbm Ab Eb
Staying in Time and Mastering the Changes
One of the most helpful and surprisingly simple things you can do for yourself to keep the song moving in a steady flow is counting out the beats. “All of Me” is written in 4/4 time, meaning that there are four beats to every measure.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the chord changes, listen carefully to the words that line up with those changes.
The more you listen to the original version, the better you’ll get at accurately capturing the feel in John Legend’s performance, evoking all the tender romance that the song is meant to resonate with.
Syncopation and Arpeggios
It’s a good idea to start off just focusing on moving smoothly from one chord to the other, playing all the right notes and keeping up with the rhythm. Once you feel you’ve gotten the hang of that, try listening to the song again and hearing out the way John Legend plays the chords in each part of the song.
You’ll probably notice that he’s not playing on the downbeat all the time, which helps give the verses a sense of forward momentum. This is known as syncopation in music, and it can be a bit tricky to master at first. If you practice enough times with a metronome – or better yet, the original recording of the song – it’s much easier to keep a firm sense of where the downbeat are. This allows you to bounce off of them for your upbeats in those syncopated rhythms, which are most prevalent in the intro and verses.
When it comes to the choruses, John Legend takes a more sweeping approach that almost makes the song feel like it’s slowing down. Rather than actually changing the tempo, he’s changing his piano style to arpeggiated rhythms. An arpeggio is when a chord is broken up and played one note at a time, resulting in something that almost sounds like a harp or other stringed instrument being strummed slowly.
To practice this, first try just playing the three notes in the triads you’ve been working on, moving up and down while staying in time. You can experiment with different arpeggio styles – for example, when playing the Fm chords, you can play F, Ab, and C and repeat, always moving up the chord. If you can master that, try playing the notes in different orders until you find a style that works best for you and complements the movement of the vocals.
To take your arpeggios to the next level, try moving beyond these three-note triads. See how many octaves you can play up the keyboard while staying on all the right notes. If you have a sustain pedal, this is an excellent opportunity to let the notes ring out, and it makes it easier to keep the sound full and robust without having any sudden breaks of silence.
When you invert a chord, it means you’re changing the order in which note is highest. Choosing the right inversion can make the melodic line that you’re singing over the top of it stand out more. It will also make moving from one chord to the other much easier, as you won’t have to move your hands as far across the keyboard. Once your triads are all mastered, you can start working on finding these inversions, experimenting with what sounds best, and truly make this song your own.
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Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.