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Nashville Numbering System

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The Fooles Troupe 22 May 04 - 12:30 AM
darkriver 22 May 04 - 12:54 AM
The Fooles Troupe 22 May 04 - 01:59 AM
Mark Clark 22 May 04 - 12:39 PM
GUEST 23 May 04 - 04:59 PM
Cluin 23 May 04 - 05:10 PM
GUEST 25 May 04 - 12:36 AM
The Fooles Troupe 27 May 04 - 02:54 AM
Marion 11 Jun 04 - 12:58 PM
Murray MacLeod 11 Jun 04 - 04:59 PM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Jun 04 - 09:09 PM
Murray MacLeod 12 Jun 04 - 05:45 AM
The Fooles Troupe 12 Jun 04 - 07:47 AM
Willie-O 12 Jun 04 - 08:34 AM
Jeri 12 Jun 04 - 09:34 AM
Murray MacLeod 12 Jun 04 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,Jeri 12 Jun 04 - 08:37 PM
GUEST,Mooh 12 Jun 04 - 09:45 PM
The Fooles Troupe 13 Jun 04 - 12:04 AM
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Subject: Tech: Nashville Numbering System
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 May 04 - 12:30 AM

I'm very impressed with the new Mudcat search summaries - it helped my search for info on the Nashville Numbering System, I found oout that there once allegedly was a thread about "Rick Fielding, M. Ted, Mark Clark and others about the practical use of the 'Nashville numbering system'", but that message did not lead to the specific thread. I must admit that the Guitar Help Hotline message was not useful...

So ... I found on the web the words for 'Some days are diamonds', but underneath there was a set of coded numbers and a reference to the 'Nashville Numbering System'.

Any assistance please guys?

Robin


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Subject: RE: Tech: Nashville Numbering System
From: darkriver
Date: 22 May 04 - 12:54 AM

Robin,

I dunno exactly what you want to know, but a quick stop at Google yields, among other things this from the site Cyberfret.com:

Question #24
What is the Nashville numbering system?

Answer

The Nashville numbering system is a form of music notation where the chords are represented by numbers instead of letters. The number shows how a chord relates to the notes of a major scale of a particular key.

Here is a C major scale, and each note gets a number.

C D E F G A B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

In the Nashville numbering system you might see something like this.

1///|4///|5///|1///


That translates to these chords.

C///|F///|G///|C///


You will use chord modifiers, like m, 7, sus2 etc to tell what type of chord will be played. So if you see something like this.....

1///|2m///|5///|1///|


.....it translates to this....

C///|Dm///|G///|C///


Here is a G major scale

G A B C D E F#
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

So in the Key of G.....

1///|2m///|5///|1///|


....would mean...

G///|Am///|D///|G///


The numbering system allows guitar players to understand how the chords relate to each other, yet not writing specific chords. This is helpful, especially when the key of a song may need to be changed to accommodate a vocalist in the studio on the spur of the moment. Or for using a capo.

If there is a root of a chord that is different from a note in the major scale, the b (flat) or # (sharp) symbol is used before the number.... b2m or b3 etc.

So if you see something like this for the key of C.....

1///|b3///|b7///|1///|


.... it would translate to.....

C///|Eb///|Bb///|C///


E would be 3, so Eb is b3. B would be 7, so Bb would be b7.

This system is really a lot like the numbering system used for traditional music theory. In music theory, you use Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV)...to serve the same purpose. So instead of seeing......

1///|2m///|5///|1///|


....you would see this.

I///|IIm///|V///|I///|


Now the people that read your Nashville numbering charts will need to know music theory in order to understand what chords to play.

Be sure to check out the lessons in the Theory Section here at Cyberfret.com.

etc. etc.

Doug-bob sez check it out.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Nashville Numbering System
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 May 04 - 01:59 AM

OK,

Thanks darkriver,

I assumed it was something like that...

Your answer is more extensive than I needed but may be of great assistance to others.

I am very familar with the Roman Numeral Relative Chord Notation System because I studied formal music theory for several grades. I was just confused by the '17' '27' & '57' in the fragment below which I now assume means merely 'I7' 'II7' & 'V7'. I'm a little vague mentally at the moment, having a few temporary hassles... :-)

        1                57                1                17
        4                4                1                17
        4                4                1                1
        27                27                57                57

I can now fit it on the Piano Accordion without extra hassles.

Hmmm......

In that case I take it that the system is just an exact copy of the Roman Numeral system for 'uneducated Yanks'* - us older 'British Empire Colonials' (Aussies) having had the Roman Numeral system drummed into us at Primary School ... ;-) Before we had massive imports of US made (by foreigners even) clocks (and before digital clocks), most analogue clock faces in public spaces and many for home use were made with Roman Numerals.

Robin

* or is that really 'uneducated Southerners' ... ;-)
[:-P


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Subject: RE: Tech: Nashville Numbering System
From: Mark Clark
Date: 22 May 04 - 12:39 PM

Actually, Robin, we Yanks use the Roman numeral system as well. The confusion arises because most players seldom actually write the numbers down or see them written. In a rehearsal or session, someone may miss a chord change when hearing a tune for the first time and ask "What was that funny chord in the bridge?" They'll get a reply like "Oh, that's a three chord." They never actually see the notation written and may assume that Arabic numerals are used.

The system works especially well in situations where several different stringed instruments are being played, some with capos and some without. If the key is A and the guitar player is capoed at the second fret using G fingerings, he may think of the three chord as a B or B7 rather than C# or C#7 it actually is. The mandolin player will be confused if the guitarist says it's a B7 but if everyone just calls it a three chord, there is no confusion and everyone knows what to play regardless of the key or their use of a capo.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: GUEST
Date: 23 May 04 - 04:59 PM


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: Cluin
Date: 23 May 04 - 05:10 PM

In some chord (roman numeral) numbering systems, the upper case Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, etc.) denote the chord is major while the lower case numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, etc.) mean the chord is minor.


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 04 - 12:36 AM


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 May 04 - 02:54 AM

Yes, Mark, the 'relative numbering system' works well in group situations. I spent some time playing with a group who had printed word sheets with chords names on the top of each line. There would also often be a note 'up 3' etc - which was fine for capos, but was a little hard at first for a Piano Accordion Stradella Bass!

First I had to establish the real key (not always as simple as you may think), then translate the chord names to I, IV, V, etc then find the start point and range on the Stradella Bass. After a while with suffucuent practice of this new needed skill though, it becomes almost a reflex.

Cluin, yes, I've seen that too. There are a myriad ways of notating music.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: Marion
Date: 11 Jun 04 - 12:58 PM

Robin, if you're still wondering about what old thread was referred to, I suspect it was this one: These numbers don't lie

Cheers, Marion


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Jun 04 - 04:59 PM

It is surely complicating the issue unnecesarily to notate the chords to indicate major or minor unless the chord required varies from the normal triads generated by the root note of the chord in that particular scale.

So

I   is always major
II is always minor
III is always minor
IV is always major
V   is always major
VI is always minor
VII ? probably never written on a chart, would be indicated by V7 instead, I imagine.


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Jun 04 - 09:09 PM

"VII ? probably never written on a chart, would be indicated by V7 instead, I imagine. "

In the context, VII & V7 are very different things to a trained musician - VII would be the majot chord based on the relative 7th, very different notes from V7, and while it would be unusual in 'Folk & Trad' music, it is not unusual in some styles of music..

"It is surely complicating the issue unnecesarily to notate the chords to indicate major or minor unless the chord required varies from the normal triads generated by the root note of the chord in that particular scale."

You are right Murray. That IS exactly what the whole system relies on.

I, V7, etc is Major, Im, Vm7, etc is minor in the system I was formally trained in. But I HAVE seen printed music that works on different assumptions, whether I could quickly turn up an example from library is another question....

But

"I   is always major
II is always minor
III is always minor
IV is always major
V   is always major
VI is always minor"

is not correct - Major scales contain only Major triads - Minor scales contain only Minor triads. If the one contained the other, why would there be two different scales?


Robin


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 05:45 AM

Robin, we appear to be talking at cross purposes here.

I really don't understand what you are driving at when you say

Major scales contain only Major triads - Minor scales contain only Minor triads.

Triads are formed by taking any given note in the scale as a root note, then adding the third and the fifth note following the root note in the scale. Thus, in the scale of C major, the notes of the scale are

C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C

the first triad (I) is formed by

CD E F G A B C (CEG) = major triad, chord of C major

the second triad (II) is formed by

C D E F G A B C (DFA)= minor triad, chord of D minor

the third triad (III) is formed by

C D E F G A B C (EGB)= minor triad , chord of E minor

the fourth triad (IV) is formed by

C D E F G A B C (FAC) = major triad, chord of F major

the fifth triad (V) is formed by

C D E F G A B C D (GBD) = major triad, chord of G major

the sixth triad (VI) is formed by

C D E F G A B C D E (ACE) = minor triad, chord of A minor

the seventh triad (VII) would be formed by

C D E F G A B C D E F (BDF) = diminished triad, and as I stated above would never be seen written on a Nashville chart. Either the arranger would require a V7 (GDDF) or else a diminished chord in which case he would, I imagine write IIdim (orIVdim, or VIIdim they are all the same chord)   

So a major scale yields major and minor triads, and a diminished triad, as of course do minor scales.


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 07:47 AM

Sorry, Murray,
You've missed the boat.

You can make up any rules you want that are different to existing established systems - look up Strindberg & Schoenberg, and 'twelve tone music', and make up your own Music Theory, but you can't rewrite existing systems whenever you feel like it.

The Numerical Numbering Chart (Roman Numeral) as I was taught appears to be different to the Nashville Numbering System as you are trying to explain it. I don't care about the Nashville system - the few songs that I have got alleging to be in the Nashville system seem to be notated assuming the same assumptions as the Roman Numeral system I was trained on.

That system (and not the system you are describing) works on a Piano Accordion (first designed in the 1880's according to Bob Bolton) Stradella Bass & and a Guitar Neck, and will also work on any similar stringed instrument.

"Triads are formed by taking any given note in the scale as a root note, then adding the third and the fifth note following the root note in the scale. Thus, in the scale of C major, the notes of the scale are etc"

You are wrongly assuming that the Roman Numbering system (which is all I care about) in a particular scale uses those numbers and then builds chords WITH ONLY NOTES FROM THAT EXISTING SCALE - maybe the Nashville System does (I wouldn't know!), but - as I said - I don't care. The System I was formally taught uses the bass note number from that scale, and then builds appropriate Major triad chords in the Major scale using the proper Major intervals (you thus end up with notes out of that Major or Minor scale!); pro-rata for the Minors - it's called 'MODULATION'.

You should get a guitarist who plays lots of barre chords to explain why when you run up the neck in a Major or Minor Key (the way the Roman System works) you can ONLY get respective Major or Minor Triads, since I won't be contributing anywhere near as much to Mudcat in future - I'll just be a leech sucking down info others have placed here. I just dropped back here to briefly explain why you are on the wrong path.

bye

Robin


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: Willie-O
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 08:34 AM

What's this then?

1 3 5 /
1 3 (5#)5 /
1 3 5 3 1 /


(scroll down)







.....why it's "Smoke on the Water", of course.

All the good rock riffs are 1 3 5.


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: Jeri
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 09:34 AM

Robin and Murray, thanks. You guys seem to be arguing based on the fact you're talking about apples and oranges. Whether you meant to or not, you've shown me the difference between "Numerical Numbering" and "Nashville Numbering." Modulation happens in the former and usually not the latter. The Nashville system seems to be dependent upon the scale of the song and key, and Numerical is dependent upon the root note of the scale of whatever chord your playing.

Regarding Nashville numbers, I still would like to see 'IIm, because there's still a chance somebody will throw in a II chord. Am I wrong?


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 08:10 PM

Robin, I am sorry to hear you won't be contributing to Mudcat in future. I am also sorry to read that you are feeling stressed at the moment so I shall refrain from any further comments on your latest post.

Jeri, I don't see why the II chord should require a minor identifier, any more than the III or VI chord, since they would normally be minor chords anyway. If the tune is undergoing modulation, then the chords should be identified by IImaj, IIImaj, or VI maj.

Think "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" ...


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: GUEST,Jeri
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 08:37 PM

(On IP address, so no cookie.)

Murray, I understand what you're saying, but from chords posted in various places, it seems like folks often do write in the 'm'. Without regard to 'should' and 'shouldn't', is this just something that some people do and some don't?


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: GUEST,Mooh
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 09:45 PM

I certainly prefer the major notated when differentiating between the major 7 and dominant 7 chords, and I also prefer the minor notated simply because both major and minor chords of the same root may appear in tune accompaniament, major being the "default". One assumes a minor chord based on the second and third intervals of a major scale but it's not always the case (Hey Good Looking, I think). But, the third could be dominant 7 too, particularly when leading to the relative minor, could it not?

I've never liked the Nashville system, I admit my bias, but I like "shorthand" methods a lot.

Sorry, I'm not at my usual computer, and don't have my glasses. Hope that made sense.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Nashville Numbering System
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 13 Jun 04 - 12:04 AM

I'm not disappearing entirely .. I will hang around a few things like this, but I can see the firewood being stacked around the sacrifical post... :-)

Murray, comment away on my posts... but susbsequent posts by others may have dealt with some things.

It appears that the two systems arose from different bases of Musos with different needs. The 'Roman Numerical' system can not lead to arguments "Might this be a Minor Chord?" & "One assumes a minor chord based on the second and third intervals of a major scale but it's not always the case" because of its design. The M (major) is always assumed if not stated but can be noted if desired - if there is much switching back and forward between assorted Majors and Minors, espeially 7, 7, 11, 13, etc, it's easier if the M is specified, even if it is normally 'assumed'.

I couldn't easily find anything that simply and consistently explained "Nashville" which I why I started this thread. Looks like I was right in my original assumptions that different people had different ideas.

Looks like Jeri has said what the key (if you pardon the pun!) difference is between the two systems - The older Classical Music based system assumes that the Basic Mode (Key) of the piece never changes - this is in line with long established 'Classical Music' Theory - 'Modern Classical' Music had severe arguments with this concept - but the Numerical Chord Notation system could easily deal with such 'advances' without modification or confusion.

The 'Nashville' seems to be a more 'folk based' system that has lots of variants.

Robin


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