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Nashville number system
Old 8th May 2021
  #1
Gear Head
 
Nashville number system

Hello,

I am trying to figure out this chord progression in relation to the Nasvhille number system...

So the chords are:

Dm, G, C, F, Bb, D#, A

I am new to this... so I am trying to understand what the chords are. So far I understand this:

Dm=2
G=5
C= 1
F=4

But I can't figure out what Bb, or D# is?


I imagine A=6?


Could you guys please help me out

Thank you!
Old 8th May 2021
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Never heard of that number system. Can you point us to a reference about it?
Old 8th May 2021
  #3
Lives for gear
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashville_Number_System

Focus on the Chord type section. If you still need help after reading it, let me know.

I don’t use this system; but it looks straightforward.


Ray H.
Old 8th May 2021
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Progger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
You would refer to the Bb chord as "b7 major" and the D# chord -- which you should call Eb in this context, probably -- as "b3 major."

I don't usually use the Nashville system either but it makes a lot of sense and it's a good system for most rock, pop, and country songs. It's also a great way for contemporary musicians to start learning and understanding chord functions within a key, which is all based on scale degrees and the chords built on those degrees. Bb and Eb aren't in the key of C by default, so we have to assign modifiers to them. Flats, in this case. You'll also want to delineate chord quality along with root ("major") because they won't have a default quality, unlike the other "natural" chords in the key.
Old 8th May 2021
  #5
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Progger ➡️
You would refer to the Bb chord as "b7 major" and the D# chord -- which you should call Eb in this context, probably -- as "b3 major."

I don't usually use the Nashville system either but it makes a lot of sense and it's a good system for most rock, pop, and country songs. It's also a great way for contemporary musicians to start learning and understanding chord functions within a key, which is all based on scale degrees and the chords built on those degrees. Bb and Eb aren't in the key of C by default, so we have to assign modifiers to them. Flats, in this case. You'll also want to delineate chord quality along with root ("major") because they won't have a default quality, unlike the other "natural" chords in the key.

Ahhhh ok thank you! That makes sense

I didn't know you could assign flat and sharps to the Nashville number system

That's all cleared up for me, thanks!


Edit: sorry one last question, if the the Bb chord is for example, Bb Maj7... would you call it "b7 major7" in the Nashville number system? ... as it's not in the key of C by default I would need to specify that chord quality right?

Thanks
Old 8th May 2021
  #6
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Actually....

It’s a relative system, not absolute. So, C is not always I and D is not always II

So, in a
C blues: the C is I F is IV G is V
D blues: the D is I G is IV A is V
F blues: the F is I Bb is IV C is V

You have to determine what key the tune is in... so, in a studio or band situation, someone would say... “it’s a blues in Bb”... or “blues in C with a ii V turnaround” which would mean D minor to G on the turnaround.

When you see it written in lowercase “ii” it denotes minor... uppercase denotes major.

If a tune is in C and there’s an Eb chord, most cats would call it a Flat III
Old 8th May 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gggg ➡️
[. . .] Edit: sorry one last question, if the the Bb chord is for example, Bb Maj7... would you call it "b7 major7" in the Nashville number system? ... as it's not in the key of C by default I would need to specify that chord quality right? [. . .]
Setting aside the Nashville Number System for a moment, can you clearly identify exactly what kind of seventh chord you are targeting? . . .Major seventh, Minor seventh, Dominant seventh, etc.? I couldn't tell for sure from your query.

Before you answer, look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventh_chord#Tertian


Ray H.

I'll take a wack and someone familiar with the Nashville Number System can check if I got the notation right or wrong. But what do you think?

Bb major7 [against the key of C] => b7Δ7 [EDIT: A mess up, I think it should have been b7Δ? See additional posts below.]
Bbm7 [against the key of C] => b7-7 or b7m7
Bb7 [against the key of C] => b77 Note: I typed a lower case 'b' but some GS script is incorrectly [for this context] displaying it as upper case. GS wants to link to Revox [2 Track quarter inch] tape machines.

In the context you provided, I'll usually think of the Bbm7 and Bb7 chords in terms of the Eb they are point at. . .and less about their relationship to the key of C. A Bb major7 chord would need more context for me to think about it one way or another.
Old 8th May 2021 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Head
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
Setting aside the Nashville Number System for a moment, can you clearly identify exactly what kind of seventh chord you are targeting? . . .Major seventh, Minor seventh, Dominant seventh, etc.? I couldn't tell for sure from your query.

Before you answer, look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventh_chord#Tertian


Ray H.

I'll take a wack and someone familiar with the Nashville Number System can check if I got the notation right or wrong. But what do you think?

Bb major7 [against the key of C] => b7Δ7
Bbm7 [against the key of C] => b7-7 or b7m7
Bb7 [against the key of C] => b77 Note: I typed a lower case 'b' but some GS script is incorrectly [for this context] displaying it as upper case. GS wants to link to Revox [2 Track quarter inch] tape machines.

In the context you provided, I'll usually think of the Bbm7 and Bb7 chords in terms of the Eb they are point at. . .and less about their relationship to the key of C. A Bb major7 chord would need more context for me to think about it one way or another.
Yep I was going for a Bb Major7 chord

Was wondering how it would be written down in the Nashville number system

In this chord progression... Dm, G, C, F, Bb Maj7, D#, A

I would guess it would be written down "b7 Maj7"

If C=1... then Bb Major7 chord woud be a flat 7 right?

Then you just add the Maj7 to the name to clarify it's chord quality

That's how I understood it from Progger's post
Old 8th May 2021 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gggg ➡️
Yep I was going for a Bb Major7 chord

Was wondering how it would be written down in the Nashville number system

In this chord progression... Dm, G, C, F, Bb Maj7, D#, A

I would guess it would be written down "b7 Maj7"

If C=1... then Bb Major7 chord woud be a flat 7 right?

Then you just add the Maj7 to the name to clarify it's chord quality

That's how I understood it from Progger's post
That leans somewhat against the documentation on Wikipedia. But maybe I read it too strictly? @ Progger is a good man. And it could be just too much of a hassle to find the greek delta unicode character key combinations - so people on computers now would likely prefer to write Maj7 more than Δ?

Which makes me think I got b7Δ7 wrong. It didn't require the last 7. Should have been b7Δ, I think. . .in the context of C as root.

But I don't think you are in the key of C major. I think this tune is in the key of [some kind of] D minor? Maybe have another look at the melody. [EDIT: So, Dm = 1 would seem a more correct path.]


Happy transcribing,

Ray H
Old 8th May 2021
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
All they are doing is referring to the interval from the fundamental of the key signature.

In that link they used the Key of C.

One of the first lessons on piano is a 1,3,5 chord in C major. C E G. Or the 3rd and the 5th on the C major scale.

The number is the step in the scale. Nothing Nashville about it, been around for a long time.

To deal with the sharp's and Flat's, you have to know the scale you are on. Major, Minor, Diminished, Augmented. Or you can look at it another way, Music modes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mode_(music)
Old 8th May 2021
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Progger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
@ bgood is absolutely right that it's all based on key center, so the numbers are all in relation to where "tonic" is. If the key of the song is Ab, then your 2 chord is Bbmin, 3 is Cmin, IV is Db, etc. To get a B major chord in that key, for example, you'd say "b3 major," from what I understand.

Ray, I don't think you're wrong, if you needed to specify that the Bb chord would be a maj7, my guess would be to write "b7maj7" or delta/triangle (which I'm not sure how to get, qwerty-style... so "maj7" would win here).

Big caveat, like I mentioned above: I don't usually use the Nashville system! I used to work with a great guitarist who used it for his charts, though, and I found it extremely intuitive to use. This was only for playing straightforward rock, pop, soul, and country, so I don't think it would hold up well for really harmonically adventurous music. (My own weird fusion tunes would NOT be conducive to Nashville numbers.) For your average gig fare, though, it's a very useful system to know. And if there are any actual Nashville pros that wanna step in and correct anything I'm getting horrifically wrong, please do! I don't intend to fill anyone's head with lies.
Old 8th May 2021 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum ➡️
All they are doing is referring to the interval from the fundamental of the key signature.

In that link they used the Key of C. [. . .]

The number is the step in the scale. Nothing Nashville about it, been around for a long time. [. . .]
Perhaps, I'm not following. Are you referring to the first link I provided?

If so, there is reference to major, minor, and harmonic minor keys at the top of the Chord type section. So one key signature could imply any three of these scales. So looking at the key signature alone wouldn't provide sufficient information.

I assume this Wikipedia link is current and largely reflects the current practices?

On background, I know a lotta, lotta music theory - but haven't used the Nashville Notation System.


Thanks,

Ray H.
Old 8th May 2021
  #13
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I've worked with quite a few people who use the number system. With complicated charts that have lots of altered chords, once the key is established they'll usually pull out a pencil and write in the actual changes.
Old 8th May 2021 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
I've worked with quite a few people who use the number system. With complicated charts that have lots of altered chords, once the key is established they'll usually pull out a pencil and write in the actual changes.
Likely I looked at it in my youth for a week or so - and then said, forget it. . .and did. Seems like a very vague memory?

There was a nice interview link with Rory Rositas on another thread questioning Nashville over under mic placement

Rory mentioned how talented Nashville musicians there were using the Nashville Number System. I didn't know anyone was actually using it.


But - while I love traditional country music - I've never even been to Nashville.

Ray H.
Old 15th May 2021 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood ➡️
Actually....

It’s a relative system, not absolute. So, C is not always I and D is not always II

So, in a
C blues: the C is I F is IV G is V
D blues: the D is I G is IV A is V
F blues: the F is I Bb is IV C is V
Maybe I am misunderstanding your blues reference but I thought that the Nashville Number System is always based on the Major Scale?
Old 15th May 2021 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Progger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Good ➡️
Maybe I am misunderstanding your blues reference but I thought that the Nashville Number System is always based on the Major Scale?
Correct, but not always the C major scale... which is what bgood was clarifying, I think.

So first, you establish your key. Let's say: E. (Country guitarists love that key, right??)

Your default chords are...

1 - E major
2 - F# minor
3 - G# minor
4 - A major
5 - B major (dominant)
6 - C# minor (relative minor)
7 - D# half-diminished (min7b5)

If you want to create a secondary dominant motion - let's say, we're treating a section as C# minor, and we want to modulate there with a G#7 chord - we'd designate it "3 major" (or "3 dom7" or something like that). Basically, If you stray from the default quality of a chord function, you designate that.

I think you're right that you always consider the numbers in terms of the relative major key, even if most of the song is minor-centric. Same thing in Gospel music. It makes chords really easy to call out onstage if someone didn't do homework!
Old 15th May 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Good ➡️
Maybe I am misunderstanding your blues reference but I thought that the Nashville Number System is always based on the Major Scale?
Well, it's based on the assumption of major-ness. When you put a 1-6-2-5 on a chart they're all major chords. If a chord is anything but major, you indicate that.
Old 15th May 2021 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Progger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
Well, it's based on the assumption of major-ness. When you put a 1-6-2-5 on a chart they're all major chords. If a chord is anything but major, you indicate that.
Since it's a colloquial system, there are probably different conventions based on whatever sub-community you're in. Usually, I think the numbers correspond to their default functions (2, 3, and 6 being minor, 7 being diminished, 5 assuming a dominant quality if there's a 7th involved). If you change the quality of one of those, you designate that: in the key of C, for example, you'd call a D major chord "2 major" since it's minor by default in that key.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are circles that assume a major triad for everything unless it's designated.
Old 16th May 2021 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
Well, it's based on the assumption of major-ness. When you put a 1-6-2-5 on a chart they're all major chords. If a chord is anything but major, you indicate that.
The way I understand it is that the number of any chord in the Nashville Number System is equivalent to that particular chord's position in a major scale.

That is independent of whether it's a major, minor or diminished chord. It just determines the root note. That would be a little harder to do if the root note can also be derived from a blues, minor or other scale.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Gear Addict
 
rockum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Without a musical context you can't always tell the key from a given set of chords, so here are the possibilities...


Dm, G, C, F, Bb, D#, A

Rearranged...

A, Bb, C, Dm, Eb, F, G

------------------------------------
• In the very unlikely case that we are in the key of A:

A = 1
Bb = b2
C = b3
Dm = 4m also written 4-
Eb = b5
F = b6
G = b7

------------------------------------
• In Bb is a pretty good candidate for the key. Here is that breakdown:

A = 7
Bb = 1
C = 2
Dm = 3m / 3-
Eb = 4
F = 5
G = 6

------------------------------------
• In C another good candidate:

A = 6
Bb = b7
C = 1
Dm = 2m / 2-
Eb = b3
F = 4
G = 5

------------------------------------
• Dm is my best guess of what the key actually is. Both Dm and F would both be notated with the same numbers:

A = 3
Bb = 4
C = 5
Dm = 6m / 6-
Eb = b7
F = 1
G = 2

------------------------------------
• In Eb, an unlikely candidate:

A = b5
Bb = 5
C = 6
Dm = 7m / 7-
Eb = 1
F = 2
G = 3

------------------------------------
• In G, another unlikely candidate:

A = 2
Bb = b5
C = 4
Dm = 5m / 5-
Eb = b6
F = b7
G = 1
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