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Nashville Number Chart Basics

The basic principle in writing charts is that each letter is one measure of music. The premise behind the Nashville Number System is simple. Instead of using the chord names in a chart:

C F G C

 

You use numbers. The numbers are mapped to the scale. In the key of C it is:

C D E F G A B C

1  2  3 4  5  6  7  1

 

A song with C, F, and G would look like:

1   4   5   1

 

The advantage of using number charts is that one chart is valid for all key signatures. The singer informs the leader or producer "The key of C is too high for me. Can we try it in Bb?" Sure, no need to re-write the chart. 1, 4, 5, 1 in the key of Bb would translate to:

 

To make chords other than major just add the appropriate symbol(s):

 

Everyone has their own style for writing number charts and Number Chart Pro can accommodate these differences in styles. A "split bar" is a measure that has more than one chord, that is it changes chords in the middle of the measure. I would use the slash character to write a split bar:

 

Some people prefer to use parenthesis to indicate a split bar:

 

Some prefer to underline a split bar:

 

Remember, you can use any font installed in your system, at any point size.

 

It can become more advanced

You can use a lot of the symbols used in traditional notation to create more complex charts, like repeat bars, key signatures, fermatas, codas, etc. Use the note characters over chords to show rhythm patterns:

 

 

Use a plain text font for giving instructions in the chart:

  or    

 

 

Eighth note push

A "push" is where a chord is played ahead of the beat:

 

 

The last 1 chord is played at an eighth note's value ahead of beat one.

 

For in depth info on writing Nashville Number Charts

Check out    The Nashville Number System book by Chas Williams

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