This post might be a little more technical, but I felt it was really important for me to go over the Nashville Number System! The Nashville Number System is one of those things that seems way more complicated than it actually is.
In fact, it was actually developed in the 1950s to make playing and communicating chords to others really easy. With the Nashville Number System, you can change the key of any song, but the numbers stay exactly the same.
Once you start playing guitar out more or if you are a songwriter, learning this system will be essential.
I wanted to take a second to break it down for you so it's easy for you to learn. I put off learning this for way too long living in Nashville, thinking it was a lot more confusing than it actually is! So don't be intimidated!
I've created a Number Chart PDF you can download HERE and print out!
Let's start by making sure we are on the same page with how keys work in music theory:
1. To find all the notes in your key, you will first need to pick a key! I will start by picking A.
2. From there, you will collect all the chord letters in that key, starting with the root, whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step (or WWHWWWH). Remember your music notes available are A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G# (all the sharps can be the note after's flats).
So for A, the letter notes are A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A
3. Then assign the majors and minors. Major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished. (I say MA MI MI MA MA MI DIM because it helps me remember!).
So A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#dim
Ok got it? Now for the numbers!
Basically, for these chords in the key, you will assign them each a number. So A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#dim would be
A=1 Bm=2 C#m= 3 D= 4 E=5 F#m=6 G#dim= 7
See how easy the Nashville Number System is?
There are also some symbols in this system that help tell you what to do:
I hope that was helpful! To practice, I recommend you look up some number charts in the Nashville Number System to some simple songs and try playing through them.
Let me know if you have any questions and I hope you can take on this challenge of learning yo numbers. If you are interested in taking guitar lessons in Nashville to expand your overall guitar knowledge click here!