5 Reasons To Switch From Chords To The Nashville Numbers System

Since moving to Nashville I’ve been learning so much, including about something I’d only heard of until I moved called the Nashville numbers system. 

 

For those of you like me that didn’t know how it works, it works on the simple concept that it’s possible to notate 7 tone scale  using just the numbers 1-7, using dashes for minors. Many of my “serious” musician friends have asked how something so rudimentary could be useful, and to answer their questions, this is why: 

 

1. It’s fast. Really, really fast. I was working up a difficult Latin song the other day, and I was able to transcribe in realtime using just numbers things that would have taken twice as long if I was using chords. 

 

2. It allows you to see where the chord change is accurately. Rather than posting the chords above the lyrics and relying on a musicians knowledge of how the melody goes, it simply says that each chord written lasts a measure, unless underlined when it’s only worth a half a measure. For more detailed switches, you simply make notes next to the chord (for instance, if the chord switches on the 4th beat, I’ll underline the two chords and put three dots to remind myself). 

 

3. It makes it stupid-easy to transpose. Since the system isn’t reliant on anything other than positioning, If you know your scales and chords, you can instantly switch to any key. No more mad transcribing to drop everything a half step for a finicky singer. 

 

4. It’s perfect for modern music. While I wouldn’t recommend using this system for jazz or classical, it works especially well with modern music styles that are mostly in major keys with few extensions. 

 

5. It’s easy to teach. In fact, it’s so simple if you write me, I’ll send you a free and easy how-to e-book on how it works. Just shoot me an email here. 

 Writing out a song for a recording session last week using the Nashville Numbers system. This was my first chart, and I feel like I'm still getting used to doing this. 

Writing out a song for a recording session last week using the Nashville Numbers system. This was my first chart, and I feel like I'm still getting used to doing this.