What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

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ronnie35
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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by ronnie35 » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:09 pm

If it sounds good to your ear thats all that matters I haVE A DEGREE IN MUSIC AND AT TIMES IT CAN BE A HAZARD OTHER TIMES IT WORKS.
RS
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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by Casey H » Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:52 am

ronnie35 wrote:If it sounds good to your ear thats all that matters I haVE A DEGREE IN MUSIC AND AT TIMES IT CAN BE A HAZARD OTHER TIMES IT WORKS.
RS
That is true, follow your ears. But it's also true that different chord patterns are sometimes related to the era of a song, so if you are writing to sound current -or- sound like a particular era, you may have to stick to the chord patterns that are more commonly used for the style.

One casual observation (not written in stone at all!) I had was that contemporary music stays more within the primary chords of a key. In the late 60's and early 70's, it was more anything goes. The Beatles and Stones threw in all sorts of interesting chord changes. When I first started writing, being a child of that era, I tended to write more like that. Now I'm less likely to do that unless it's intentionally a retro-era piece.

There are probably tons of exceptions to what I said above.

;) Casey

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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by CHuckmott » Sun Jun 23, 2013 3:41 pm

As Casey said they are notation fpr the chords in any given key. If you number the notes in the major scale (do re mi fa so la ti do). 1,3, 5 is the first chord (major) 246 the second (minor), 3-5-7 emin etc.. If you start with a note and plunk through the major scale every other note and chain (usually) three together they create a chord. In the c major scale C major - dmin -Em -F major - g Major - A minor b half diminished, or minor flat 5. Learning the notes on your instrument and the various keys and their major scales and modes, along with the diminished scales, and their chord. Takes maybe a year to learn but is possibly about all the theory you will need in your lifetime . If I recall when I was learning it the only way for it to make sense is to sit with a good teacher or at least a good theory book and tough. Pays dividends in the end. Also helps you see how various songs you play are similar and makes them immensely easier to remember.

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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by BruceBrown » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:42 pm

Google search a book by Chas Williams called the Nashville Number System" It's a great book for this subject.
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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by suzdoyle » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:41 pm

Here's a chart I put together to show chords by their name and their number (Arabic, not Roman numeral), line by line:

https://app.box.com/s/43df2bc39c59ead78f58

You can download it for free at that link. Also, I have lots of free music factsheets here on the teaching page of my website (download and use them as you'd like for educational pruposes):

http://suzdoyle.com/teaches-music/

The basic idea is that, in any major key, if you play the 7 notes of the scale, and then build chords on those same 7 notes, chords number 1, 4, and 5 will be Major chords, while chords 2, 3, and 6 will be minor ones. (Chord no. 7 is diminished, which often substitutes for the 5 chord).

When thinking about song structures, it's helpful to notice what pattern of chords are used. For examples, here's an example of a typical 1950s chord pattern, which each line showing which chord in a given key belong to each number:

1 6 4 5
C Am F G
G Em C D
F Dm Bb C

Also, generally, 1 chords are the "home chord," where the song feels most "done." The "4 chord" moves the feel of the song forward, away from home, and the "5 chord" feels farthest from home and feels like it should head back home.

Chords 1, 4, and 5 (all Major), are the bones of the song (feeling bright and strong), while chords 2, 3, and 6 are the flesh (making the song feel darker, softer).

Each Major chord shares 2 notes with a minor chord; therefore,
Am is the soft/ dark version of C
Dm is the soft/ dark version of F
Em is the soft/ dark version of G

(and vice versa).

In my view (and the above is mostly my own languaging/ understanding), thinking of chords numerically helps you understand the progression, and hence, the functionality of any group of chords.

Hope this helps!
Suz
(officialy music theory wonk)
:D


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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by suzdoyle » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:03 pm

Also, here's my factsheet showing the different ways of looking at/ thinking about a scale:

https://app.box.com/s/88a103710c66cb21e9f3

It clarifies the difference between memorizing note names/ note numbers/ note symbols on a staff/ solfegge, and more. The same applies to chord names.

Also, here's a quick overview I did a couple years ago of current chord progressions (using chord numbers) of popular songs (I've added a few recent songs, just for fun):

P.S. Many of the new songs have the same progression over and over and over and over. Seeing them numerically (by chord progressions) helps identify how it got the feel it has, and what kinds of patterns are repeated. Enjoy! Suz

CLUMSY (Fergie)
C7 chord entire song

COCONUT (Nillsen)
C7 chord entire song

PAYPHONE
4 1 6 5

NEW SOUL
1 4 6 5

GANGNAM STYLE
1(in a minor key) 5 b7
Bridge = 6 b7 1 (made major)

SOME NIGHTS (by Fun)
1 4 1 , 4 1 5
4 1, 4 1, 4 1, 5

SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW
6 5 , then 6 5 4 5
(same as "Don't Fear the Reaper")

THRIFT SHOP
6 1 2(major) 3(major) 5
* the 2 & 3 chords, usually minor, are altered to be major. That gives it a lift.

BE OK
1 2(made major) 4 1
Bridge: 3 (made major) 4 1

BABY (Beiber)
1 6 4 5 over and over

BEAUTIFUL (Akon)
6 4 1 5

BUBBLY (Colbie Caillat)
Verse & chorus 1 1/#7bass 4 1

BRIDGE: 2 4 2 4

CLINT EASTWOOD (Gorillaz)
1(minor) 5 1

HALO (Beyonce)
Verse & chorus: 1 2 6 4

I'M YOURS (Jason Mraz)
1 5 6 4 (with one breakaway to a #4dim chord in one spot

IMPOSSIBLE (Shontelle)
6 1 5 4

NUMA NUMA SONG
4 1 5 6

WHO LET THE DOGS OUT
1 4 5

SAFETY DANCE
1 b7 4 , b7 1 5
(with some further tricky things)

WEREWOLVES OF LONDON
5 4 1

CRIMSON AND CLOVER
1 5 4 5

POCKETFUL of SUNSHINE (Natasha Bedingfield)
6 5 4 2

POKER FACE
6 4 1 5

SO WHAT (Pink)
1 3 6 4 5 (although this has an uber cool riff that drives the verses)

WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE (John Mayer)
1 6 4 1 , 5 6 4 1

DYNAMITE (Taio Cruz)
6 5 1 4

BASIC 1950s PROGRESSION:
1 6 4 5

BASIC 1920s PROGRESSION
1 3(made major) 6(made major) 2(made major) 5 1

BASIC FOLK PROGRESSION:
1 4 1 5

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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by BruceBrown » Sun Oct 27, 2013 8:02 am

Suz and others have given good info here. Let me point out one thing. The 2's and 3's and 6's are not always minor in all songs. Sometime they are major chords. I'll explain how we do it in Nashville. It's called the Nashville Number System.
Key of C
1 6- 2- 5 = C Am Dm G ( The - sign is minor.)
1 6 2 5 would be C A D G no minors
i 1#o 2- 5 would be C C# dim Dm G the 0 sign = diminished
1 6- 2- 5+ would be C Am Dm G augmented

In Suz's example BASIC 1950s PROGRESSION:
1 6 4 5
If you put this in front of a Nashville session player we would play it (In C) C A F G no minor chords
We would write it 1 6- 4 5 to = C Am F G
The standard book on the subject is The Nashville Number System by Chas Williams
Hope this helps
Bruce

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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by Casey H » Sun Oct 27, 2013 8:09 am

BruceBrown wrote:Suz and others have given good info here. Let me point out one thing. The 2's and 3's and 6's are not always minor in all songs. Sometime they are major chords. I'll explain how we do it in Nashville. It's called the Nashville Number System.
Key of C
1 6- 2- 5 = C Am Dm G ( The - sign is minor.)
1 6 2 5 would be C A D G no minors
i 1#o 2- 5 would be C C# dim Dm G the 0 sign = diminished
1 6- 2- 5+ would be C Am Dm G augmented

In Suz's example BASIC 1950s PROGRESSION:
1 6 4 5
If you put this in front of a Nashville session player we would play it (In C) C A F G no minor chords
We would write it 1 6- 4 5 to = C Am F G
The standard book on the subject is The Nashville Number System by Chas Williams
Hope this helps
Bruce
Good info, Bruce... I always thought they used Roman numerals with upper case for major (e.g. "VI") and lower case for minor (e.g. "vi") but I am not at all well read on the subject!

:D Casey

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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by funsongs » Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:00 am

Good thread...something I need to learn, for the sake of giving simple directions when wanting others to play what I have in mind.
Having always played by ear...was able to pick it up quickly...but that's kinda the lazy-man's way.
Like others posted: I'd be at a open Bluegrass jam night...with as many as 30 wannabes...all looking around to see which guitar player knew the song...follow, by sight, the finger positions. OR: for those who "know the code"...they could follow the leader who would throw up a finger (not the middle one :roll: ) or 2 or 4 or 5...to signal the changes coming.

Thanks for the Nashville method book recommendation. For us dyslexic-prone, not-such good readers...I might have to resort to a You Tubetorial to learn by watching...and copying.

Good stuff! Thanks for both the question, and the replies.
Cheers.
Peter Rahill
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Re: What Chords Do Those Numbers Mean?

Post by suzdoyle » Sun Nov 03, 2013 12:28 am

BruceBrown wrote:Suz and others have given good info here. Let me point out one thing. The 2's and 3's and 6's are not always minor in all songs. Sometime they are major chords. I'll explain how we do it in Nashville. It's called the Nashville Number System.
Key of C
1 6- 2- 5 = C Am Dm G ( The - sign is minor.)
1 6 2 5 would be C A D G no minors
i 1#o 2- 5 would be C C# dim Dm G the 0 sign = diminished
1 6- 2- 5+ would be C Am Dm G augmented

In Suz's example BASIC 1950s PROGRESSION:
1 6 4 5
If you put this in front of a Nashville session player we would play it (In C) C A F G no minor chords
We would write it 1 6- 4 5 to = C Am F G
The standard book on the subject is The Nashville Number System by Chas Williams
Hope this helps
Bruce
Thanks, Bruce, for clarifying about the Nashville numbering system. That is very helpful! :-)

So much to learn! :-)
Suz

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