Nashville number system

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The Nashville Number System is an informal method of transcribing music by denoting the scale degree on which a chord is built. It was developed by Neal Matthews, Jr. in the late '50s as a simplified system for The Jordanaires to use in the studio and further developed by Charlie McCoy. It resembles the Roman numeral and figured bass systems traditionally used to transcribe a chord progression since as early as the 1700s.

By writing chords as numbers, music may be transposed easily. As a simple system of transcription, it can be used with only a rudimentary background in music theory. Improvisation structures can be quickly explained using numbers and chord changes can be communicated mid-song by holding up the corresponding number of fingers. The system is flexible, and can be embellished to include more information (such as chord color or to denote a bass note in an inverted chord).

C=1, D=2, E=3... About this sound Play 

For example, each chord in the key of C is labeled 1, 2, 3, etc. such that C=1, D=2, E=3, etc. Thus, the chord progression C///F///G///C/// would correspond to 1///4///5///1/// in Nashville notation, while G///C///D///G/// in the key of G would also become 1///4///5///1///.

The Nashville Numbering System, (also referred to as NNS) is much like the movable 'Do' system of the 'Do Re Mi.' The key that you are in, for instance, the key of G, the key of C, the key of Eb, etc. becomes the 1. So, if you are in the key of G, then G becomes the 1. By the same token, if you are in the key of C then C becomes your 1. This determines what chord is your 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. In the key of G, G is the 1, A is the 2, B is the 3, C is the 4, D is the 5, E is the 6 and F# is the 7.

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