[Harp-L] Nashville Number System

The Nashville Number system is a way to play chords by using standard numbers to stand for chords. Or tell when the chords are changing. Which means you have to change the notes you are playing with the chord.

If you are a little fuzzy on how chords work this may give you some insight, regardless of whether you want to play country.  If you've got some old songbooks sitting around, this system may help you put them to use.

This is similar to harmonica tablature in that it is transposing. Just like harmonica tab works for any key diatonic harmonica, the Nashville Number System works for any key of music.

If you play the harmonica tab on a C harmonica, the sound comes in the key of C (if the song is in C). IF you play the same tab on an A harmonica, the song comes out in the key of A.

In the Nashville Number System, the chords are numbered 1, 4 and 5 with each number designating the scale note in the key. In the key of C, the scale is C D E F G A B C. The first note is C (1) in the scale. So the C chord is indicated by a 1. The Four Chord (F) is 4 and the Five Chord is 5. Minor chords are designated by minus sign (6-( or small m (6m).

This differs from blues and jazz nomenclature  where the chords are designated by Roman numbers: I, IV and V for major chords and lower case letters ii, iii, vi for minor chords.

You can make a printout and watch the video.


There is a link to the home page where there is a two page printout (orange letters: Nashville Number System page)


Also on the charts page is about a 100(?) tunes all charted out.

So if you play a little guitar or keyboard, you're all set.  They are rendered in chord names  C F G or Nashville Number System 1 4 5 (numbers that will transpose to any key).

Hope this helps.


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