The Nashville Number System

This system uses Roman Numerals instead of chord letters. This is because people do not always play the same song in the same key. Also, some will use a capo, while others will not. This system prevents the musician from having to rewrite chord charts to reflect his/her own key preference.

All numerals are relative to the key you decide to play it in. For example, the "3rd" in a C chord is an E note; using the root (C) as the number one, and counting upwards ie. C = 1, D = 2, and E = 3, etc. The chart below will help you understand it better and help you to figure out the chords if you need help.

Here's an example from "Red Is The Rose":

Taditional Chording:

        D           F#m        Em             G
Come over the hills, my bonny Irish lass

            D           Bm               G   F#m

Come over the hills to your darling

The Nashville Number System:

       1            3m         2m              4
Come over the hills, my bonny Irish lass

         1             6m               4   3m
Come over the hills to your darling

Using This System, you could easily play the song in D, or in the C form with a Capo on the second fret, or even in G without any extra work.


If you have any comments, please e-mail Paddy.

The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, from the Columbia Records Years.

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