Nashville Number System

If you’ve recorded in Nashville, you’ve run into the Nashville Number System.

While I could explain it here, there are quite a few resources that can do it much better. So instead, I’ve gathered up some online tools, books and videos to help you understand how the Nashville Number System works.

So what is it? Basically, it’s the numbers that correspond to where the chords sit in the key you’re in. It’s a way to quickly state a key, and then which chords you should be playing with a few letters and numbers. Sort of a universal language across all instruments for what everyone should be playing. You can also notate things that would normally be on a score, like a coda, with simple symbols.

Well, the Nashville Number System is pretty handy to help you understand chord progressions and find new ones from songs already out there. It’s also a great way to break down a song for easy conversion to another key.  The best thing about it? If you’re a visual person, it gives you a quick visual, so you can see if you’re using the same progressions all the time!

It’s also handy for composition, particularly when you’re searching for chords within a key. While you may already have a chord chart, this will get you used to how Nashville will interpret your song’s structure and chord arrangement.

nashville number system example
Harmony Central’s Chris Marion example

The downloadable guitar chord chart on Song Chops will give you the full numbering system across the top of the page. But, let’s get some lessons from the pros with a few videos.

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