BASIC CHORD PATTERN
If you already know your alphabet and can count to 5, you are good to go. Here's how you find the chord pattern we use most often. The primary notes in music are A through G. It is important to know the order of these 7 notes, they are the start of the English alphabet: A B C D E F G
When we call out a song, you will someone say "in the KEY of ___" and then they will say a key or note (A thru G). For example: "in the key G". These means that the first chord (1-chord) is the G-chord. It is important to know this because it will help you find the fourth chord (4-chord) and the fifth chord (5-chord).
Here are some examples:
KEY OF "A"
For the key of "A", the 4-chord will be D and 5-chord will be E. ( 1-4-5 = A D E )
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
A B C D E F G
KEY OF "G"
For the key of "G", the 4-chord is C and the 5-chord is D. ( 1-4-5 = G C D )
2 3 4 5 6 7 1
A B C D E F G
KEY OF "D"
For the key of "D", the 4-chord is G and the 5-chord is A. ( 1-4-5 = D G A )
5 6 7 1 2 3 4
A B C D E F G
The "key note" is always the 1-chord, then count forward to find the 4th and 5th notes or the 4-chord and 5-chord. If you get to the end of the alphabet, just continue counting back at "A". For example, in the case of "the key of G" you can see we had to continue counting with the A being the 2-chord until we reached the 4-chord (C) and 5-chord (D). This system is called the Nashville Numbering system and it makes it easy to play songs no matter the song's key.
NASHVILLE NUMBER SYSTEM
Instead of using letters (A, B, C..) the Nashville Number System allows musicians and vocalist to describe a chart of a song by its pattern. This makes it easy to play any song in any key.
For example, a song in the "key of G" with a "pattern" of 1-4-1-5, tells you that the chord progression will be G-C-G-D.
Changing to the "key of A" instead, using the same pattern of 1-4-1-5 tells you the 1-chord will be "A", the 4-chord "D" , and the 5-chord "E" giving you a new set of chords A-D-A-E for the same song.
YEP -- IT'S THAT SIMPLE
It took a country musician to make things
simple, thank you Neal Matthews.
Starting with the basics you will be able to play most of the songs you will hear at the Jam.
What to learn more?
The Nashville Number System Fake Book
The Nashville Number System is the standard way for a professional country musician to notate a song. The system has been around since the 1950s, and it rapidly became widespread within the country music community because of how efficiently it can represent music. In essence, a Nashville number chart conveys the harmony, key, meter, rhythm, phrase structure, instrumentation, arrangement, and form of a song – all on a single piece of paper.
Nashville Number System
Hal Leonard is non-affiliated.