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THE NASHVILLE NUMBERING SYSTEM


What Should I Know About the Nashville Numbering System?

I hate Country Music. I hate math. I’m not crazy about systems either.

#1 -It has nothing to do with Country Music. It was first developed by Studio Musicians. Nashville is a big Recording studio center. The Musicians more than likely had a Jazz or Classical background.

#2 -The “Math” is just numbering I-VIII. VIII and I are the same. There are 7 different notes in an Octave, the 8th is the first one repeated.

#3 -I wouldn’t even call it a “System” when looking at one specific key. It’s the way it makes all keys the same, that makes it a system. Wouldn’t you like to measure Chords, Scales and chord progressions on the the same yardstick? The system will show you WHY a particular song sounds different from another. Why one chord or scale sounds different, in ANY KEY!

When we take lessons and study Music theory, we learn to count the degrees in any scale, starting from the Tonic or *ROOT note(#1). It is natural for a beginner to focus on the notes themselves but looking at the distance between notes will teach you their relationships.

When you learn a C Maj chord is C,E,G you can play a C chord. When you learn ANY Maj/min chord is Built I,III and V, you can play any Maj/min chord in any key!

If you can use this system to Visualize Chord/Scales in 1 key, the relationship of Every key will make sense.

If you don’t know theory or read standard notation, this is probably the single most useful concept you can grasp. Seeing and feeling the I-IV-I-V in a Blues progression is a good start. Numbering allows us to be very specific about how a chord or scale sounds and feels, without using just one key as the example. Unless you read music or understand music theory, Notes have no quantity, Numbers do.

The easiest way to start learning the Nashville system is to start on the A(5th) string. Memorize the notes up to the 12th fret. A is open, B is 2nd fr, C is 3rd fr, D is 5th fr, E is 7th fr, F is 8th fr, G is 10th fr, A Octave is 12th. The Nashville system refers to the degree in the Major scale, so the Root/Tonic is A, it gets the number 1, B is 2, C# is 3, D is 4, E is 5, F# is 6, and G# is 7.

Looking at a scale this way allows you to visualize and compare, Chords, Chord progressions and melody’s or riffs. The degrees 1(open-A), 3(4th fret-C#) and 5(7th fret-E) make up an A Maj triad. The basic 12-bar blues pattern can be described as 1(A), 4(D), 1(A), 5(E), 1(A). A Country or Polka Bass-line A, E, A, E, can be described as a 1-5 bass-line.

Learning this system will allow you to transpose keys effortlessly. This is also important to understanding how all the keys fit together.

Here’s a diagram of all the keys. Memorize the one you use most(especially the Root, Fourth and Fifth).

key

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

A

A

B

C#/Db

D

E

F#/Gb

G#/Ab

A#/Bb

A#/Bb

C

D

D#/Eb

F

G

A

B

B

C#/Db

D#/Eb

E

F#/Gb

G#/Ab

A#/Bb

C

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

C#/Db

C#/Db

D#/Eb

F

F#/Gb

G#/Ab

A#/Bb

C

D

D

E

F#/Gb

G

A

B

C#/Db

D#/Eb

D#/Eb

F

G

G#/Ab

A#/Bb

C

D

E

E

F#/Gb

G#/Ab

A

B

C#/Db

D#/Eb

F

F

G

A

A#/Bb

C

D

E

F#/Gb

F#/Gb

G#/Ab

A#/Bb

B

C#/Db

D#/Eb

F

G

G

A

B

C

D

E

F#/Gb

G#/Ab

G#/Ab

A#/Bb

C

C#/Db

D#/Eb

F

G

I Do Not recommend memorizing this chart. If you can learn one key, and see the distances between notes, as a moveable pattern, every key will make sense, without memorizing sharps and flats for different keys. C is the perfect key, with no sharps or flats. If you can visualize the Intervals in the key of C, you can apply them as a Major scale in any Key.

Here are some good articles on the system

http://www.gospelmusic.org.uk/resources/nashville_numbering.htm

http://howmusicreallyworks.com/Pages_Chapter_6/6_4.html

Not very many people get this system right away. You need to play songs you already know and convert the Chord progression into numbers. I’d say it takes at least a week, possibly months of practice before you can easily start thinking in Numbers instead of letters.

When you do master this system, it will save you hours Transposing and learning songs. Don’t give up if this doesn’t make sense right away. Part of what makes this hard to grasp, is that the Intervals(numbers) apply to melodies, chords AND chord progressions(songs).

Benefits Of Learning To Play An Instrument

I’m re-posting this as it’s very good to know what kind of effect, playing an instrument has on your daily life. We get much more from learning to play an instrument than just the ability to play a song.

Playing an instrument is a great way to learn about  problem solving, abstract reasoning, visualization, and spatial relationships. Scientists have proven that musicians actually have significant growth in the primary motor cortex, the cerebellum and corpus callosum. Pre-schoolers given keyboard instruction showed an almost 50% increase in their spatial temporal reasoning skills. Kids that take music lessons find it easier learn fractions because they understand time signatures. A study shows secondary students who participated in band or orchestra reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (Texas Commision on Drug and Alcohol Abuse). Students changing schools frequently, find music lessons are a source of  stability.

Music is a communication skill just like learning a language, your abilities to perceive pitch, peak out around the age of 10.  Even people with perfect pitch lose it by the age of 10 if they don’t use the letter names of notes(A,B,C or Do, Re, Mi). One study showed only 7% of American music students had perfect pitch, compared to over 30% of Asian music students surveyed.

Playing an instrument also has incredible stress reduction benefits. There is practically no activity in the frontal cortex of a musician playing a piece from memory! It’s almost like meditating. Pieces of music that are slower than the human heartbeat (approx 78 BPM) will actually cause your heart-rate to drop. In short, almost nothing effects as  many parts of the brain, as music.  Einstein said “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I get most joy in life out of music”

Here’s some articles on the subject Music Lessons Improve Kids Brain Developement

12 Benefits of Music Education

Kindermusik

Working.com

http://coalitionformusiced.ca/html/sec5-research/quickfacts.php

and this is from Wikipedia:

Extra-musical benefits

Some studies suggests that music lessons provide children with important developmental benefits beyond simply the knowledge or skill of playing a musical instrument. Research suggests that musical lessons may enhance intelligence and academic achievement, build self-esteem and improve discipline. A recent Rockefeller Foundation Study found that music majors have the highest rate of admittance to medical schools, followed by biochemistry and the humanities. On SAT tests, the national average scores were 427 on the verbal and 476 on math. At the same time, music students averaged 465 on the verbal and 497 on the math – 38 and 21 points higher, respectively. However, the observed correlation between musical and mathematical ability may be inherent rather than acquired.

Skills learned through the discipline of music may transfer to study skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills useful in every part of a child’s studies at school, though. An in-depth Harvard University study found evidence that spatial-temporal reasoning improves when children learn to make music, and this kind of reasoning improves temporarily when adults listen to certain kinds of music, including Mozart (Rauscher, Shaw & Ky, 1993). This finding which has been named “The Mozart effect” suggests that music and spatial reasoning are related psychologically (i.e., they may rely on some of the same underlying skills) and perhaps neurologically as well. However, there has been considerable controversy over this as later researchers have failed to reproduce the original findings of Rauscher (e.g. Steele, Bass & Crook, 1999), questioned both theory and methodology of the original study (Fudis & Lembesis 2004) and suggested that the enhancing effects of music in experiments have been simply due to an increased level of arousal (Thompson, Schellenberg & Husain, 2001).

A relationship between music and the strengthening of mathdancereading, creative thinking and visual arts skills has also been reported in literature. (Winner, Hetland, Sanni, as reported in The Arts and Academic Achievement – What the Evidence Shows, 2000) However recent findings by Dr. Levitin of McGill University in MontrealCanada, undermines the suggested connection between musical ability and higher math skills. In a study conducted on patients with Williams Syndrome (a genetic disorder causing low intelligence), he found that even though theirintelligence was that of young children they still possessed unusually high level of musical ability.

http://web.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=nq_10spring_inside_science

http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/full/23/27/9240

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6447588/Playing-a-musical-instrument-makes-you-brainier.html

Learning Music as an adult- advantages

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-musical-self/201008/is-music-training-only-our-children

Music Benefits the Brain

http://www.ktradionetwork.com/health/music-benefits-the-brain/

What’s stopping you?

Here’s a great article, if you are considering taking music lessons.

Thursday, 03 June 2010 12:49

by Blue Morris

The only difference between people who can play guitar and those who cannot is this: the people who can play guitar DO IT.

You can too.

I often wonder how many guitars are purchased each year only to be abandoned in the closet shortly thereafter. A guitar was meant to be played. A guitar wants to be played. Your guitar wants you to pick it up and play something… anything. When left alone for long periods of time, guitars get lonely. They feel neglected. Please don’t let your guitar feel neglected.

Think you don’t have enough time?

If you want to do something inspiring in your life but feel that you don’t have enough time, take a close look at the things that you do each week that are not fulfilling and stop doing them so you have more time to do what matters to you.

How much TV do you watch each week? How fulfilling are these TV shows for your life? Are you feeling inspired from TV? Watch a little less TV and you can learn to play music instead.

How many movies did you watch last month? Do you even remember which ones they were? I’ll bet many of them had little impact on your life. Instead of watching another movie that is just like the hundreds before you’ve seen, learn to play beautiful music instead.

Work less, play more

How much time do you spend at the office? How important is your job to you? What if you went home at 5pm instead of 5:30 and played beautiful music? Would your boss fire you for working standard hours? I doubt it. And if you think you would get fired for leaving work at a reasonable hour, try to find another job that allows you more freedom.

I found a job that allows me to play guitar, all day, everyday!

A couple years ago I told a friend that it was my goal in life to work less and play more. She laughed and called me lazy. Am I lazy if I love playing music so much that I will stay up until 4am playing guitar because I can’t put it down? Really, am I lazy? She now works very long hours at a job I don’t believe she even likes. I know what I would choose. Work less, play more!

Think you don’t have enough money to take music lessons?

Take a closer look at where your money actually goes. I bet there are things you spend money on each month that are not nearly as valuable to you as music lessons would be.

How much money are you spending on your Blackberry or iPhone bill? Phone bills used to be so inexpensive. Now that we have more sophisticated technology available, many of us have expensive phones, 3G service and instant e-mail. Just because it’s available doesn’t mean you need it.

For most people this stuff is completely unnecessary. Cell phone companies will try anything to get you to sign up for things you don’t need. Don’t fall for it. What’s more important to you: Instant access to e-mails that are not even interesting to read? Or playing beautiful music?

How much money did you spend on your cable bill last month? Cable used to be inexpensive, but now many of us have 100 channels and HD and it costs a small fortune each month. Cancel your cable or subscribe to fewer channels and lose the HD. Go to the library instead. The books are free and they have no commercials to waste your time.

Stop upgrading all the “things” in your life and feed your soul instead. Do you really need a bigger TV? Do you really need a new car if the current one works just fine? Sure, some people will be impressed by all your fancy new “things,” but everyone will be far more impressed if you can play music. Music can “impress” people so deeply they can be driven to tears.

When we buy new things we get a rush of excitement, but that feeling dies quickly. Music never gets old. Most people who make a real commitment to music end up playing and loving music their entire lives. I have been playing guitar since I was eight years old and I still get butterflies in my stomach when I discover something new in music, play something beautiful, or create music of my own invention.

If you have none of these fancy things in life and still can’t afford guitar lessons, call me. I am willing to take on committed students for less, as are many other teachers. Why? Because we love teaching and we hate to see a guitar get lonely.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I regret taking music lessons”?

Music is far more rewarding than most of the things we spend our money and time on. If you’re thinking of taking music lessons, don’t hesitate. Make a commitment to spending a little money on lessons with a good teacher and some time to get through the “beginner” stage, and I can promise you that you won’t regret it. Your life will be richer for it.

Somewhere there is a guitar waiting for you to pick it up. When you do, give me a call.

Blue Morris

Here’s Blue with the Pink Flamingo Burlesque Troupe

Bluemorris.com

Time Signatures

Here are some great examples of different time signatures.  90% of western music is in 4/4 time.  Guitarists get used to playing to a safe, natural feeling rhythm. Anything outside of a 4/4 is considered “odd”.  Self-taught players can have notoriously bad timing.  I think that when we start learning to play solos or “lead”, we tend to focus on what and where the notes are, and try to feel the rhythm.  Practice playing ahead of and behind the beat, so that you can sense the difference.  The easiest way to drastically change a song is to speed up or slow down the tempo or change the time signature.
This is from the Pandora Radio series
http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2kqiej/blog.pandora.com/archives/podcast/2007/09/meters_time_sig.html

This is a comment left on Reddit about metronome exercises. Some very good info;

Good metronome exercises (record yourself and listen back to it):
1)Clap along with the metronome on every beat.
2)Clap along on every second beat.
3)Clap a triplet feel over two beats, then on the click for the next two.
4)In 4/4 time, put the metronome on 1 and 3, and clap on 2 and 4.
5)In 3/4 time, put the metronome on 1, and clap on 2 and 3.
6)In 4/4 put the metronome on just the 3 beat, and clap 1 and 4.
7)In 3/4 time, put the metronome on the “and” of 2 and clap the 1, 2, and 3.
8)In 4/4 time, put the metronome on the 1 and 3, and clap quarter note triplets starting on 3.
9)Same as 8, but start your triplet on the 2.
10)In 4/4 time, put the metronome on the 2 for only ever second bar. Clap first one type of clave then another. (Note: each clave is a two bar pattern, and you can reverse the two measures)
You get the idea. From there, you can make up your own exercises.
Tap your foot on each beat as a help at first, but eventually, you’ll want to internalize the feel, so that on the rests, you’re actually resting.
Start with the metronome at a comfortable speed, then speed it up. Then slow it down. It’s all fine and good if you can keep good rhythm at 120bpm, but what about at 240? What about at 60? Or 30? Playing fast is hard, keeping a good rhythm at painfully slow tempos is even harder.
Make it perfect. Don’t ever shrug it off as “meh, good enough.” With music, there’s no such thing as good enough. As you get better at making rhythm, you’ll get better at hearing just how bad your rhythm is. You will never have those exercises down well enough. Work on them for the rest of your life.

5 Fast, Easy Ways to Improve Your Guitar Playing


1- Always, always, ALWAYS start tapping you foot BEFORE you start playing. Sub-divide the beats, 1 and, 2 and, 3 and, 4 and (4/4). Guitarists, especially self-taught, TABbers tend to “feel” rhythms instead of counting. If you don’t know where the “One” is, in every bar and how many bars are in each section, you are guessing. Ask a friendly Drummer to explain it.

Eventually you will do all of this automatically. Practicing with a metronome my seem rigid and stifling but it is the best way to become consistent, and you can see when you are improving. You will be able to play pieces at increasingly faster tempos.

Playing fast, isn’t the point of music but I find being able to play faster, than required is a good way to practice scales and chord changes.


2- Visualize! Did you ever wonder why so many good musicians started out as artists? Being able to SEE music gives you an advantage. Less than .1% of the population has “Perfect Pitch”, so don’t depend on your ears, exclusively. Being able to see the difference between a Major and minor scale or triad, is the first step to hearing and controlling them. Reading standard notation, TABs or chord charts are not the only ways to visualize material. Everybody sees music differently, numbers, shapes, colors, letters.


3- Play Blind. Do the notes on your Guitar re arrange themselves when you look away? They will always be in the same place, whether you can see them, or not. The only time you should look down (at the top fret-markers, not the fingerboard) is to change positions.

If you can’t see the note’s in your head, there is no point to looking for them on the fingerboard. Watch a few different Guitarists and see what a difference it makes. If you are focused on the fingerboard, you are introverted. It looks as if the player is not confident.


4- Leave Space. I like to tell my students (during soloing) to stop playing when they are inhaling. This the easiest way to start leaving space during solos. Use the call and response, or question-answer technique and leave a space for the answer. Make your spaces sound deliberate. In the case of 2 players with equal technical abilities, the one that can leave deliberate rests, will sound more tasteful and confident. What you DON’T play is as important as what you DO play!


5- Don’t let your approach limit you. Don’t let words and technical terms limit you. “Lead” and “Rhythm” Guitar are terms that will effect your playing. They imply a very limited understanding of the instrument. Hybrid styles of music such as Rockabilly or Psychobilly would have never happened, if players were limiting themselves to being “Country” or “Jazz” players.

Also try to understand the Bassist and Drummer’s approach to Rhythm and Harmony. The rhythm section is not just there to accompany you and keep time. You will have to be able to communicate with them and know what they expect from you!

When you try to write riffs or progressions, with your Guitar, your abilities WILL limit you. Write in your head, then figure it out on the Guitar. Sing or hum a line, then learn it on the Guitar. This is the best way to learn how to improvise instead of copying.