Monday, September 19, 2011

Music Theory: Part 4

Hey there seven followers!

I hope all continues to be well with you.

Last week, we went over the Nashville Number System in a basic way, using this chart:

...and I gave you an assignment: to try to play through Verse 1 in D Major, which is the key indicated by the chart, and in Bb Major. Do you do it? I hope so, it will make going to the studio and writing out your music easier, and probably save you some expensive studio time. 

If you were ambitious, maybe you read ahead and looked at the "Chorus 1" section, and discovered there was something in there that requires further explanation.  Let's check it out: 

The Chorus and Inversions

The first six measures are pretty straightforward, no huge surprises here: 

The Chorus starts with the "4" chord, so in the key of D Major, this is a G Major chord.  This G Major also lasts through the first three beats of the second measure. The last beat of the second measure is a "5" chord, so in the key of D Major, this is an A Major chord, and from the rhythmic notation above this measure, we are told that we play this chord for the SPECIFIC duration of one quarter note.  

In the third measure of the Chorus, we are going to play a "6-" chord, which in the key of D Major is a B Minor chord. The B Minor lasts for the whole measure. The fourth measure returns to the "5" chord, or the A Major, for the first three beats, followed by the "1" Chord, or, D Major (obviously) for the SPECIFIC duration of one quarter note. 

The fifth and sixth measure are easy, two bars of "4",  or G Major again. The seventh measure contains the chord that demands explanation. The first two beats are simple--the "1" chord, or D Major again. The last two beats of this chord look like a fraction: "5/7." This is called a "split" chord, and the way you say the name of this chord in Nashville is "Five split Seven." So what does that mean? To answer that, we have to talk about Chord Inversions. 


Normally, when we write out chords on the staff for theory purposes, we write them in a form that is called "Close Voiced Root Position." This means that the notes of the chord are stacked on top of each other in order with the root, that is, the note that the chord is named after,  on the bottom.  In the key of C, from low to high, this would be spelled C E G or Numerically, 1 3 5.  There are two other ways to organize these notes, in a close way. if you simply move the bottom note up an octave, the spelling of the chord becomes E G C, or numerically 3 5 1. This chord is said to be a "1st Inversion Close Voiced C Major Chord." If you take this 1st Inversion C Major chord, and again take the note on the bottom and move it up an octave, the spelling of the chord becomes G C E, or numerically, 5 1 3. This chord, with the 5 on the bottom , is said to be a "2nd Inversion Close Voiced C Major Chord." Here's how the three different inversions of a C Major chord look in the Staff: 

In the Nashville Number System, the chord is assumed to have its root in the bass, unless otherwise notated...and the way they notate that is with "Split Notation."  So here are the chords again, this time with their Nashville Number System Notation: 

 So the "1" is assumed to have its root in the bass. "1/3" is a "1" chord with the "3" of the scale (in this case "E") in the bass. "1/5" is a "1" chord with the "5" note of the scale in the bass. Pretty simple, right? 

Let's move on to the chord and inversion in question in this particular chart. Since there are also 3 notes in the "5" chord, there are also 3 ways to spell it.  If we spell the Close Voiced Root Position 5 Chord in the key of C, it is a G Major spelled G B D, or numerically, 5 7 2. When the root of this chord is moved up an octave, we get a 1st Inversion Close Voiced 5 Chord, spelled B D G, or numerically,  7 2 5. When that 1st Inversions lowest note is also moved up an octave, we get a 2nd Inversion Close Voiced 5 Chord, spelled D G B , or numerically, 2 5 7.  Here's how they all look in the staff, relative to the key of C Major:

So in the Notation of the Nashville Number System, these inversions look like this:

So a "5" chord is assumed to have its root in the bass, the "5/7" chord is a "5" chord with the "7" of the KEY (in this case the key of C major). So the 7th note of C Major is "B." Therefore, the "5/7" chord in the key of C is a G chord with a "B" in the bass. Similarly, the "5/2" is a 5 chord in the key of C, or G Major,  with the "2" of the Key, or "D" in the Bass. 

Let's apply this to the chart:

Since our example chart is in the key of D, the "5/7" is the "5" chord, or A Major, with the 7th note of the KEY, or C# in the bass, so a "5/7" chord is a 1st inversion A Major chord. Mystery Chord Demystified.... albeit in a long-winded way. 

So in this case, the seventh and eighth measures, when translated from Nashville Number System to normal chord notation, becomes this:

D  A/C# Bm A

...and the rest of the Chorus is pretty straightforward. Try it. Try it in Bb. Try it in A. Try it in G. 

Next week, we'll wrap it up and go over some more examples of how the Number System handles things like Stop Time and more specific rhythms. 

This Week

I apologize for posting this late,  but my son had to get 3 stitches in his foot last night because he stepped on some glass....yikes!

Still working on the recording project, got vocals recorded this week, just have a bunch of editing to do. 

Just got an awesomely MESSED up Gibson LG-01 from the 50's, for  75 I have a new extra time consuming project!!

Not much listening again. 

See ya next week...

Again, please go to and download Jodi Ann's latest album "A Brief Moment In Time."  

Write somethin, will ya?

.....still no guesses about what this tune is? 


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