Worship Band Builder Podcast

The Nashville Number System - Introduction to Numbers in Music Theory - Episode 12

May 12, 2020 Eric Michael Roberts Season 1 Episode 12
Worship Band Builder Podcast
The Nashville Number System - Introduction to Numbers in Music Theory - Episode 12
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Worship Band Builder Podcast
The Nashville Number System - Introduction to Numbers in Music Theory - Episode 12
May 12, 2020 Season 1 Episode 12
Eric Michael Roberts

“Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Worship Band Builder podcast, where we are working with you to lay the foundation for skillful worship! I’m Eric Roberts. I’m joined by my co-host, Emily Roberts.”

PROMO: Play and Sing TV Music Theory Unlocked  

http://www.worshipbandbuilder.com/ebooks

What are the Nashville numbers? 

Why would I want to use the Nashville Numbers? 

How do I use them in music theory (simple C major explanation)? 

How do I get charts for Nashville Numbers?  

Further Study - Mention the Book at the end with links  

Support the show (https://worshiptheking.com/partner/)

Show Notes Transcript

“Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Worship Band Builder podcast, where we are working with you to lay the foundation for skillful worship! I’m Eric Roberts. I’m joined by my co-host, Emily Roberts.”

PROMO: Play and Sing TV Music Theory Unlocked  

http://www.worshipbandbuilder.com/ebooks

What are the Nashville numbers? 

Why would I want to use the Nashville Numbers? 

How do I use them in music theory (simple C major explanation)? 

How do I get charts for Nashville Numbers?  

Further Study - Mention the Book at the end with links  

Support the show (https://worshiptheking.com/partner/)

Emily:

[inaudible] .

Eric:

Hello and welcome to this episode of the worship band builder podcast where we are working with you to lay the foundation for skillful worship. I'm Eric Roberts. I'm joined by my lovely co-host , Emily Roberts. Thank you, Eric. Yes, it is a lovely voice for radio by the way. Oh, thank you. Since I am on radio now. Well I mean it's not old school radio, but you were kind of doing that radio voice thing. It's sound kid . I was doing it to impress you.

Emily:

Ah wow.

Eric:

Because I could have done just hello and welcome to this episode.

Emily:

No , that wouldn't have had the,

Eric:

they wouldn't have had the Gusto. Well listen to this great promotion coming to you, sponsored by worship fan builder and worship the King. Actually this is really playing sing plain sing TV music theory unlocked. Hey guys, this episode today is about using the Nashville number system and so your head will not explode. You don't have to know everything about it. But we do have a new ebook and that is a really good ebook

Emily:

and it explains everything.

Eric:

It explains everything. It's music theory unlocked. You know what I mean? The keys,

Emily:

the keys, the book is the key.

Eric:

And by the time you hear this episode, not only can you get it on ebook, so instant download, but there's more, you can get it as a print book because it's going to be on Amazon.

Emily:

Yay . Actual pages to turn. Yeah.

Eric:

And I would get this one personally, I would get this one in print. This one is good.

Emily:

To me, having a book in print is nice as a reference. So you know, like I was thinking just the other day, there's a book that I did not keep that I have kicked myself 16 times for not keeping it because I wish I had it now for a reference. And I find that like my audio books and stuff, there's stuff that I would like to be able to go back in and find something that the author said and I don't know , it just , it's too hard to go back and try to line up where you were listening to that. I don't put books, man. You can flip the pages and find the chapters and I just love books.

Eric:

Yeah and I love this book and the reason you want to buy this book in print or at least print it out is because it's full of charts, reference charts for helping you transpose your songs, helping you know all your chords . All of my best music theory like memory charts are in this book, so they're there . Their charts that you really want to have in paper and you can always print the ebook. If you've got a nice printer,

Emily:

you know it's your voice. Maybe you should start doing audio books.

Eric:

I am going to do audio books someday. I did think about that. I and I will, I'll do an audio book just for you, but what are the Nashville numbers anyway, this is something that I think more churches are picking up on it now, but we've been doing this for seniors at least in Nashville numbers,

Emily:

but do you have to live in Nashville to use the Nashville number?

Eric:

No. You can. We'll give you a pass straight here from Nashville, Tennessee to use it even if you're in Oklahoma. No, but actually, and that's a good question. I'm glad you asked that because the Nashville number system is kind of, I feel like they kind of stole it, you know? I mean, yes, they use this little system in Nashville. Not to offend any of you Nashville league guys nationally , but really they're not the national number system system. I learned it in college, but it was the classical number system, classical numbers. It wasn't the Nashville number system. Isn't that interesting? It's the same exact theory just written in Roman numerals. What were they writing it in for the classical system in Roman numerals? Yeah . The classical system is just Roman numerals, but the national system is just like a number, like what are they ? What are they? Arabic, just regular old numbers girl numbers like to talk in school is what you'd be writing in Nashville numbers. That's how they do it. Down here, this is write down one like a one and a two, like a two, but if you're in college, if you're up in the high hoody tutees of the college world, you're going to write the Roman numeral and you're going to feel even more special.

Emily:

How come they never call him Roman numbers? If you can't, you can't do that. They're , they're always Roman.

Eric:

I don't know . Um , I'm beyond that's beyond me. But so when we're looking at Mozart or Bach or any of these people and we're trying to figure out the system of how they're their , their chord structure. Okay. They're harmonization structure. We're writing Roman numeral one little Roman numeral two, you know, large Roman numeral four. And that's, that's exactly how it is. Now Nashville, they just write one, two, three, four. But the theory is the same. So for all you guys to think the national number system, it's not really, I think it was made famous and popular in Nashville because that's where all the Nashville guys would write numbers. Right ?

Emily:

Well, it made it easier to record because most of these bands is , they're recording in the studio. They're doing stuff on the fly. The vocalist shows up and , uh , somebody will ask them, what, what key do you want to sing this in? And depending on how their voice is feeling that day, that could change, you know, from moment to moment. It may be you practiced it a week ago and in in one key and today you need to sing it in another key. Well, they're not going to reprint charts just to change the key. So yes ,

Eric:

that would be, that would take too much time. Like yeah ,

Emily:

this is just an efficient way to be able to play in any key as needed.

Eric:

Exactly. What are they?

Emily:

They're numbers and we're going to get into it today and pretty in pretty good detail. So they're basic numbers that represent chords and it can be in any key. So that's what they are. Okay. They're classical, they're national , whatever they are, but they're basically connected to the music theory. So why you would want to use them. You were just talking about that you want to use them because you want to change keys and really once you learn how to do this, you understand music, you can see it in patterns. That's one of the biggest bonuses for me as I'm teaching people. If they, once they start seeing the music in patterns instead of as like GCD ABC, they see everything is letters, then it's hard to see the pattern. But when you look at the pattern in numbers, almost every song you look at it, Oh, that's the same pattern in the last song, it becomes very much more clear because the chords that we use follow a structure that is used repeatedly in pop songs, in worship songs and country songs. You'll see it over and over and over.

Eric:

Yeah, a pattern of numbers. So if you put the chords into numbers and then you write them in a pattern that you write them down like that, you can see like one, four, five, four is a pattern. One, four, five, four. So let's say just to bog your brain a minute, if you're in the key of C, it'd be GC, DC , GCDC if you looking at that as cords GCDC. Okay. You can see the same pattern in the key of like say C, it would be C, F, G, F, C, F. So it looks a lot different if you're just talking about chords and you're not using numbers, but they're the same number pattern. So when you take out those chords and put everything in numbers, then the patterns start to be very obvious and very repeating.

Emily:

So you do have to know a little bit about what chords are and how they line up and how they're typically used in a song for national numbers to make sense.

Eric:

Yeah. You , you're really gonna learn, have to learn. And that's what my plain sing book really teaches. Really foundational memory points. Oh yeah. Plain sing music theory and locked that, that, that book, that ebook we talked about.

Emily:

Yes. I , I just was, I wasn't clear that that was the title. I got her confused. So play in seeing all the books, music theory unlocked. So there's sort of a subtitle there.

Eric:

Yeah. Play and sing is the series. And then so that, that book shows you, you have to, you can't just run out and learn the national numbers without understanding music, major scale and harmonization of a major scale. And once you understand that, you go like, Oh, that's how the numbers work. Uh ,

Emily:

that sounds intimidating, but it's really not.

Eric:

Yeah, because there are a lot of people that won't teach you that. They'll just say, here's a chart and here's the numbers and this is what it means. But you really want to start to understand how the music, the major scale works in music and how when you harmonize it, each one of those get a number. So I'm going to , I'm going to do that. How do I use them in music theory? We're going to take the simple C major scale right now. And so I'll put some of this on the screen of the podcast right there for you guys so you can see it. But we're going to talk about the key of C so you can understand this.

Emily:

So a key is any group of notes that say DOH , Ray , me , Faso , Lottie doll .

Eric:

That's exactly right. That's the major scale. Yes, major scale. Now if you take that major scale and you give each one of those a number one, can you sing that for me?

Emily:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.

Eric:

Yeah, one or eight, but either way, that's perfect. Now, each one of those, this is, this is such a simple breakdown of how the national numbers work in the QFC there are seven chords , okay? And each one of those chords are on a tone, okay?

Emily:

Right? So we're building in thirds. So if C is your chord that you're building your starting, the bottom note is C, let's call that one one one . Okay. If you're, if you're playing this on a keyboard, you're going to put down your one, your first finger, your third finger, and your fifth finger. And you have built a cord that's going to be CEG in the key of C. That is your one core .

Eric:

Yeah. And that is what I call it when I said learn to harmonize the major scale. So first he laid the scale out, one through seven C. Dot. Ramy, vessel , you , and then you take one and you build a chord over one. Okay? One, three, five over that. So that's a little confusing. But like you , you said it great. One, three , five, your finger. You got CEG, that is your first chord. That is your one chord. That is a C major chord.

Emily:

So if we're changing keys, then the one chord could be D, E, F, G, a or B. It can be whatever. Note that your key starts on. That will be the name of your one chord .

Eric:

So you have your one one chord and C is C major. Yes. Now we go to the second scale tone, which is D, which is D, and we'll , if we harmonize D w just to T it's the easiest way to do is to take the piano and just put it right there. Put your hands, just move them up. One , it's really easy. So you do that. You'll have DFA. That is your two core

Emily:

and you'll hear that it sounds kind of sad because it's a minor chord.

Eric:

Yes. So two is minor, so we got two minor. So you're one quarter's major, your two is minor. You kill up the scale tone and you do this. Do this is harmonizing a major scale. You go up the scale tone. One more. Your third tone is so DOE Ramy , or one two , three or C, D E, that's the E. So you build a chord on the E tone and you have any minor. Okay, that's the minor. So the , the, this is all of the chords in C major. All right ? So if you go up to the four tone, then you're at F and F is major. Okay? F is major. So you have an F chord and you can keep going up. And that's how you harmonize a major scale. You just build a chord above each one of the scale. Tones in C major

Emily:

C is the easiest key to start with. Um, if you're playing it on the piano, it uses only white keys. And so I love piano because it is such a logical layout. You can really see the music theory. It makes sense when you're looking at a piano keyboard , um , guitar or any other instrument , uh , the notes are not laid out that way. It's, it's not as easy to see. So if you have a keyboard available and you can, you can look at it, you can put your fingers down, you can actually play the chords and hear the sounds that we're talking about. Um, it's , uh , to me it's, it's the most straightforward way to learn it.

Eric:

It's the only way to learn it. The only way to teach it is on the white keys of a piano in the key of C, all of the concepts in that key. And then when you move to the next key, like if you went to the key of G, you have to add sharps and flats, key signatures, all that's in the book. But you can, but you have to learn the basics and see , and you're always going to, in my mind as, as a music theory sort of Ninja, if you wanna be

Emily:

music theory Ninja, you want to become, that is my next tee shirt.

Eric:

That's it. If you want to become a music theory Ninja,

Emily:

not a music theory nerd. No,

Eric:

that you're , you're already that. If you're listening to this and you haven't shut it off, you're already a music theory nerd. Okay. But if you want to become a Ninja, then you have to always, you always going to think back to C and your , and as you build up these ninjas skills, you're always going to relate back to C C when you're learning all of your chords , everything. It goes back to this. And that's why I love the national number system because once you learn all of this, these numbers, they become relative to any key. And you can just move around, you can start to see your instrument in a whole different way once you start looking at it as a pattern based in the QFC.

Emily:

Well, and it's so freeing. I mean we know churches where the musicians are highly skilled and um, they play only with written out sheet music and they only play in the key that the song was originally written. And what happens is that's okay if you're a really highly skilled player on the keyboard and you feel comfortable with lots and lots of black keys in your key signature. But for average players, that's a lot more difficult. And for vocalist it's nearly impossible sometimes because your voice just isn't designed to sing in that key. So learning the Nashville number system, you can change the key leg that and everybody is comfortable playing and singing.

Eric:

Yeah, and you can look at your guitar. The piano is even if you're whatever instrument you play, make sure you learn this on the piano just so that you get the feel for it. It's visually laid out so beautifully on the white keys of a piano and all the half steps, all the whole steps, all the little things. And if you want to learn about more things like how to make a major chord minor, which is one of my most watched videos on YouTube, how to make a major chord minor. If you wanna , if you want to learn how to make a seventh chord or if you want to learn how to add a diminished or add us a minor seventh, you have to understand harmonization of a basic minor, major scale like we just talked about. You have to really go, I get that one four and five are major. The two, the three and the six are minor chords. When you look at it, you'll see those patterns come alive. Now I realize some of you guys are listening to this going what in the world? One, four and five are major, two , three and six are minor. What in the heck is he talking about? But you see that is like the core foundation of a harmonization of a major scale. It's one of those memory points. That's why I love the music theory unlocked book because I teach music theory in that book based on memory points. Once you memorize these certain pockets of points, you just relate them to back to the QFC and it unlocks all of these things for you. So that's, that's really what it's about. That's how I learned it in music in college, when they're teaching me all this, you know , advanced music theory, I'm, I'm making because I was teaching also while I was learning music theory in college, I was teaching kids guitar lessons. So I was taking all these complex ideas and going, well, how ? How am I going to remember that? And how am I going to pass this test? Well, Oh, I see this pattern. If I, if I memorize this pattern, then when I walk into that test I'm going to know how to nail that whole section cause I got these two or three patterns memorized. So that's sorta how I teach it. Um, so how do you get the charts for this? How do , okay, let's say you're like, okay cool. I'm, I'm sold. I want to start playing the national number system. How do you get the charts for it? And I'll do , I'll just, I don't even know if Emily knows I'm asking this question. She's looking at me like, Hmm .

Emily:

Get the charts. Clarify what you mean by get the charts for the national number system.

Eric:

No , like if you wanted to play , um, your next worship song with a chart

Emily:

with a national numbers chart. Okay. So you want, you want the chord chart

Eric:

like , so for so , so Sunday we were at practice and we were using nuts . We were using regular charts and they wanted to change the key right before we, the live stream recording and the bass player was trying to write his charts.

Emily:

So he's crossing out letters and writing a new letter.

Eric:

Right. And that's what happens. And so I w I had a little time so I did it for them while they practiced . I wrote over it in Sharpie, but if he had had a national number chart in his hand, he could have just said, okay, I'm going to go to be no problem. It would have been much easier. So songs select song discovery , uh , all these places they have now, just recently this year they released a national number button, click a button, it will pop out a national number chart for you. That is great. Yeah, I didn't know that. Yeah , I knew cause you were looking at me like I don't know where you get them . Um , you can make your own national number charts so you can take, what I do is if I'm at practice and they give me a , a song, it's in B flat. Okay. Does that happen ? They do like where different places, especially where they are doing it in the original key. Give me B flat and I'm looking at it like, okay, I take a big Sharpie and I write one, four, five, two, one, four, five, two. I just ride over the whole chart with big Sharpie. And then when you do that, you look down at your chart and you all of a sudden you see the verse is one, two , four, five, one, two. It's the whole time. It's that. And then the chorus is one, four, six, five, one, four, six, five. Oh and that's like the whole song. So now do, you don't even need the whole chart. You just need to know. Just basically simple. So let me clarify one last thing in this segment. The national number system, the national , the true Nashville cat kind of like chart, have no lyrics, nothing. They're just literally there a line of numbers. And those guys don't care like the lyrics as much. They're just looking at the, the verse chorus, you know, they don't need the lyrics because they're not singing right. In church. I like to have the , the regular chart that looks like a regular chart with the lyrics on it and then the numbers instead of courts . So that's what songs select gives you

Emily:

well and that makes it easy for anybody. But when you tie that in with a cable for a guitar player, then any song can be played basically in, in an easy key.

Eric:

Yeah, and that's why they give me a key of B flat and I look at it like I'm not going to play in B flat on guitar, so I'm immediately going to write the numbers above it, put my cable on and play with my G chords. That's what I teach you to do in the book music theory unlocked. I teach you how to simplify the chart in moments, put a Cape on and use easy chords . That's a really key to being a professional guitar player. Now you can learn B flat, F sharp, minor, all these crazy chords , but it's going to take you years and even if you do that, your hand is going to cramp up. I mean, I played in church where I was playing bar chords a lot and my hand would cramp up almost to the point know how to play the chord. You can play it well with extensive playing. Even the best players can fail at difficult. Yeah, there were, there were times where we played a few songs and he flat and then want to be flattened. I would literally be like, I'm not sure I can hold this chord anymore. Like the last chorus, I'm like, my hand is so sore holding the flat bar cord . You know , I've been through times where I've been like, I just want to get this over with so I can be done with this. These barcodes are killing my hand and I'm a pretty, you know, I play a lot of guitar, you know, so there , there are positions in your hand that you're not going to hold for a long time. So [inaudible] and the national numbers can change all that. And also, you know, if you've been listening to me on my guitar lessons, you're going to know that a bar chord is closed, is a closed position cord . It sounds junkie compared to an open G cord open G open D open C is always going to ring better on the guitar than any closed bar chord . Why is that? It's it's because the, like on a closed bar chord , you're holding down all of the notes and you're like holding them all down and you're cutting them all . You're pushing, all the strings are held down by one finger and then you're putting the other ones on the open strings on a guitar ring out better. They just sound better and ring better. Okay, so you kind of , you're kind of cheating the damper pedal on the piano when you match that strings with your finger. Yeah. You're pushing down all those and you can make a barcode sound pretty good. But when you open strum a G to a C to a D, a lot of those notes stay open and they rang . And so they're just made for the guitar, the bar chords . You have to close off all those strings and mute off a few and do it. So you're losing some strings and you're , and you can make them sound all right. But the more open chords sound better just period. So whenever and easier, better and easier. Yeah. So I , I grew up playing a lot of bar chords and I never , uh , bar court, never used a capo. But then now I just liked the sound of the Cape and the open strings and it's just sounds better, you know, for, for, especially for rock or pop or there may be some people out there who might say, just, just so this doesn't happen. There may be some times when bar chords sound better. The very, very rare times when like the barcodes just sound better. The voice, it always changes the voicing of the guitar when you're , when you play up higher on the neck, that changes the, like the tambour , the voicing. So sometimes you might like that high voicing or that bar chord might sound better in certain scenarios, but 95% of the time, especially for praise and worship, bar chords sound worse. They sound choked, they sound , uh, oftentimes people can't play him as good. So they're missing a few notes. They've got some muted strings in there and they just don't sound as pretty period my opinion and so if you want to learn more about this, check out the YouTube channel. If you really are serious about learning this and this has peaked your interest, go get the book play and sing TV music theory unlocked. It's on an ebook, worship band builder.com/ebook that's worship band builder.com/ebooks and be sure to send Emily any of your questions. She is a music theory Ninja and Mindjet, but I am available. She is available to questions if necessary and you can always send us a message right from the website. Ask us your questions and we will show you. Check out the YouTube, give them the address, youtube.com/worship band builder or just search in YouTube for worship band builder. We're we're there. We also have another YouTube channel, one for piano and one for guitar. One is play and sing TV for guitar and one is playing sing TV for piano, one guitar and one piano. Go to play and sing. Dot. TV play and sing.tv. All right , we'll see you there. God bless you guys. Get your music theory on this week.

Speaker 4:

[inaudible] .