Nashville Number System: Is that all it is?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Basstards, Jan 11, 2017.


  1. Basstards

    Basstards

    Oct 7, 2016
    This may be a slight continuation of another CL rant thread, but I think there's some merit, so starting a new thread.

    The Nashville Number System. Can somebody please tell me it's more than just: I chord, ii chord, iii chord, etc... Seriously. There has to be something more, to give it such a grandiose name as "The Nashville Number System". I mean, please tell me there's at least some number to change the key of the bridge or modulate up a half step in the 3rd chorus. Something. Maybe even a number for a secondary dominant, say a major VI chord instead of a minor vi chord. And I won't even rant about adding a 7th to any of those, we'll leave that for another day.

    Why is Country music stuck 60 years behind everyone else? And why do they perpetually claim to make inventions of things that were invented 60 years before they "discovered" it.

    "We use this advanced music tool called the Nashville Number System. We're so smart. Don't know it? *scoff* You take a chord, and then turn it into a number!!! Then you can use that number in any key you like. We're so smart." --- "Dude, um, we've been doing that in Jazz for like 80 years now" --- "Nuh, uh" --- "Umm, seriously, we learn all songs in 12 keys. Transposition is expected daily" --- "What did you call me?!" --- *facepalm*
     
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    smiley-eatdrink062.gif
     
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  3. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    At least you aren't inappropriately angry about it.....
     
  4. Basstards

    Basstards

    Oct 7, 2016
    To be fair, I'm just having a bit of a laugh.

    But also I've spent a good 2 hours searching the internet trying to figure out what I'm missing, if it's a "Method". Or why such a simple thing needs such a self-indulgent moniker. Why not just say, "Play a ii - V - I". Or "Play a IV - V - I"?

    Coming from a Jazz background, I don't say "My band uses the 'New Orleans Transient Key Method'. And if you know it, then you're not part of the club." Sounds a bit pompous right?
     
  5. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Not really....but I dare say that I haven't put nearly as much thought into it.
     
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  6. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I have a book on it if you want to borrow it....
     
  7. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    No, it's totally different. Instead of ii V I, you use 2 5 1. Totally different.
     
  8. Basstards

    Basstards

    Oct 7, 2016
    I literally am trying to learn. Somehow I don't think you're gonna send me the book, but I'd be willing to purchase it myself if you told me the title.
     
  9. Basstards

    Basstards

    Oct 7, 2016
    [​IMG]

    Looks like this is a Nashville Number System Chart. So I guess you have to put a minus next to minor chords. And I guess the tonals centers can change, which is good.
     
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  10. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
  11. Double E

    Double E I ain't got no time to play... Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    Northeast Ohio
    They didn't just start using the number system in Nashville last year...they've been at it for a while there. The music business that is.
     
  12. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    OP, I wondered the same thing when I first heard about the NNS, and to a large extent I think you are right, at least about the reinvention part. I too felt it seemed a bit pompous. I assume the inventor simply didn't know about traditional chord notation.

    This is a customer review (not mine) for The Nashville Number System: Chas Williams: 9780963090676: Amazon.com: Books, I think it gets it right:

     
  13. Basstards

    Basstards

    Oct 7, 2016
    Thanks guys. I ordered the book. Seems like it will be a quick/easy read, as again I have a degree in jazz and it's all the same stuff, just without the roman numerals. But I like to know all things music. I think it also has a lot of country hits and historically important songs in it. At least, I hope it does. And that will be good for me to learn.
     
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  14. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I don't think the country players are laughing with you.
     
  15. Basstards

    Basstards

    Oct 7, 2016
    Eh, you can't please everyone. If it's just the same, I laugh at myself in the same manner.
     
  16. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I don't know how far back it actually goes, but my aunt, who toured with Roy Acuff in the 50s was using it.
     
  17. BusyFingers

    BusyFingers

    Nov 26, 2016
    But Roman numerals are way more formal and math-som and scientificky!
     
  18. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I don't think you mean any ill will, but you got to remember as soon as you say you're a jazz player, you start to sound a bit pompous. That would be the universal you, btw.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  19. Basstards

    Basstards

    Oct 7, 2016
    From Wikipedia, so I guess take with a grain of salt: "The Nashville Number System is a 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 1950s 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."
     
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  20. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    cool. When I worked in Nashville, I found it very useful for pickup gigs. About the only country musicians that read (in my experience) are the session guys. Even Roy Clark once was asked if he read music. His response was, "Not enough to interfere with my pickin'."
     
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