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Nashville Number System


From: Thomas P Rivers

I always include the chords using the Nashville Numbering System, because I personally believe that learning this system helps all musicians. Not only does it help musicians play by ear, but even more importantly, it helps them communicate better with each other about chord progressions. In this lesson I am using 10-point Courier font, so if your columns don't line up right, change your font to Courier and set the size to 10. The Nashville Numbering System is used by professional and knowledgeable amateur musicians all over the world, especially in recording studios where it saves lots of time and trouble. It was invented a few decades ago by the Jordanaires to make their studio time easier and reduce studio time and therefore, cost. It's really quite simple. It is based on the positions of the notes of musical scales. For example, the scale of C is: C D E F G A B C Here is that scale with the position numbers of the notes: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 C D E F G A B We can leave the last note ("C") off because it is simply the first note repeated and is already numbered '1.' Using these numbers, if you knew the chords to a song in the Key of C, you can easily change them to the numbers: The Chord of C would be 1, D would be 2, E would be 3, etc. G7 can be written 57 with the numbers. Fm would be 4m. Bb7 would be 7b7, and so on. What is the advantage to doing this? Well, suppose you know the numbers as they apply to all 12 keys in music. If you sing a song in the Key of C, and a friend comes along who sings that song in the Key of E - you don't have to even think about what the chords are, because you are thinking of them as numbers. Since you know what chords those numbers equate to in both of those keys, you automatically know all of the chords instantly. If you don't know the numbers, you have to go through this kind of thought process: [Well, if I'm playing the chord of C in the Key of C, then I have to play the Chord of E in the Key of E. Now here is a change to the chord of F in "C" - let's see, that would be ....er, um.......A in the Key of E. And here where the chord changes to Am in the Key of C, well, let me think --- that would be......hmmm.......C#m in "E"???? And so on......] Here is a table listing the scales in the most often used keys for guitar: KEY 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 C C D E F G A B D D E F# G A B C# Eb Eb F G Ab Bb C Db E E F# G# A B C# D# F F G A Bb C D E G G A B C D E F# A A B C# D E F# G# Bb Bb C D Eb F G A B B C# D# E F# G# A# Let's look at an actual example. Here is a song most people are familiar with - "Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain," recorded by Willie Nelson. It is in 4/4 time, and I will place chords for the first beat of each measure. Here it is with letter names for the Key of C: C C C C G7 G7 C C In the twilight glow I see her, Blue eyes crying in the rain C C C C G7 G7 C C When we kissed goodbye and parted, I knew we'd never meet again F F F F C C G7 G7 Love is like a dying ember, only memories remain C C C C G7 G7 C C Through the ages I'll remember, blue eyes crying in the rain. Here is the same thing with numbers: 1 1 1 1 57 57 1 1 In the twilight glow I see her, Blue eyes crying in the rain 1 1 1 1 57 57 1 1 When we kissed goodbye and parted, I knew we'd never meet again 4 4 4 4 1 1 57 57 Love is like a dying ember, only memories remain 1 1 1 1 57 57 1 1 Through the ages I'll remember, blue eyes crying in the rain. Now, since each measure of the song is indicated with a chord in these examples, we can also show the chord progression separately from the lyrics by showing each measure like this: 1 1 1 1 57 57 1 1 1 1 1 1 57 57 1 1 4 4 4 4 1 1 57 57 1 1 1 1 57 57 1 1 Some songs have chord changes within a measure. These are shown by placing parentheses around the measure, like this: 1 (1 17) 4 4 So, if you will start using the numbers today, and play just a little every day - you will have the numbers memorized in no time at all - probably within a month. And I mean for every key you play in! You will never be sorry you did. If you play in a band, or jam with a group, try to get the other members to start using the numbers too, and communicate with numbers instead of letters. Then you can tell each other chord changes with the same numbers IN ANY KEY! I realize it's entirely possible that this explanation might generate more questions. If so, please feel free to email me TRivers@rgv.rr.com and I'll do my best to answer them. Hope this helps you. And I hope it helps you enjoy your music more....... And - please notice that there is no copyright on this. You can repay me for it by sharing it with as many other musicians as you can. Let's all help each other. God bless.... :&: # # _#_ Tom Rivers ( # ) South Texas / O \ ( === ) `---

 


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