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#388729 - 08/14/02 03:48 PM Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,408
Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,408
Indianapolis, IN USA
The Nashville Number Chart System:
Written by Mike Dunbar

Part three: Time

Time, scientists say it is relative. Anyone who has ever waited in a long line for a good movie has experienced the relativity of time. The wait took forever, the movie ended quickly. Because of this phenomenon, most songwriters learning the Nashville number system have more trouble with time than with anything else.

Put quite simply, time in music can be broken down to 1, 2, 3.

We start with tempo. Tempo is the speed at which we establish a regular beat. Tempo alone is not counted in groups so we could express it as: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1…
We gauge this speed with minutes. For example, if we have one beat per second, we would say that the speed was 60 beats per minute (or, commonly, 60 quarter notes per minute.) If the beats occur twice a second, this would be 120 beats per minute. If you whistle a common march like "the Marine's Hymn" or "Col. Bogey's March," you will probably be close to 120 bpm.

Marching, obviously, groups a tempo into twos (left, right,) and fours (left…left…left, right, left.) We call this 2/4, or 4/4 time. This means we are grouping either two or four quarter notes, with the quarter note being one beat.

Two points are intersected by a straight line (marching.) Three points are intersected by a plane (lateral motion is now possible, waltzing.) Grouping tempos into threes gives us 3/4, 6/8, or 12/8 time.

Other, more complex times are simply combinations of simple times. 5/4 time (as in Dave Brubeck's "Take Five,") is a 3/4 and a 2/4. 7/4 time (as in Pink Floyd's "Money,") is a 3/4 and a 4/4. All groupings of beats (ones) can be broken down into twos and threes.

Now comes the really confusing part. Within these beats, the time can be divided by either two or three. In other words, you can divide the beat by evenly saying, "One and Two and Three and Four," or by saying "One and uh Two and uh Three and uh Four." Make sure you are counting these evenly. A common mistake is to give more time to the "One" than to the "and" or to give less time to the "uh." You've got to make them as even as a metronome. (Which brings us to the question: do you have a metronome? No? And you call yourself a Musician?)

If your song is divided "one and two…," we call this straight eighths, or simply, eighths. If your song is divided "one and uh two and uh…," We call this a shuffle or swing. Some swing can be a little "off" from the triplet beat of a shuffle; this sophisticated approach gives the swing either a "tight" or "loose" feel. Merle Haggard's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" is a shuffle. The Eagles' "Lyin' Eyes" is eighths and Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train" is a swing. It is important that the band knows whether your song will be eighths, a shuffle, or a swing.

Using the Nashville number chart system, each number represents not only a chord, but also a measure. If you change chords within a measure, and the change is even (changing on beat number three in 4/4 time) you can simply underline both chords, put them in parenthesis, or put them in a box. The first line of "Jingle Bells" would read:

1 1 (14) 1 or 1 1 14 1

The one and four chords in parenthesis, underscore, or box would fall on the words, "Jingle all the…" with two beats for the 1 and two beats for the 4.

To express quarter notes, you can put dots over the numbers to be counted as beats:

. . . .
1 5 4 1

means, one beat of one, one beat of five one beat of four. More complex rhythms can be expressed using standard Music notation over the corresponding numbers.

The usual chart is grouped into phrases of four measures. This is the way most music is phrased, into four measure groups. Sometimes there is a measure or two at the end of a section, you just have to learn to listen for the beginnings of phrases to find these "extra" measures.

Some people use standard musical repeat signs, D.S. signs, and so on. I personally like to write the whole song out.

Well, there you have it, the three basic elements of the number system; scale, harmony, and time. As I've said before, there is a lot more to it. All JPFers, feel free to email me with any questions on the subject.

Email Mike Dunbar at: drboomboom2@aol.com


Brian Austin Whitney
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Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

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#388730 - 08/15/02 10:13 AM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
Two changes:

On the second "Jingle Bells" example, the underline did not appear under the 14 measure. Underlining, boxing, or using parentheses indicates a measure that contains more information than one chord.

The dots should have been directly over the numbers 1 5 4 1 indicating quarter notes for each chord.

Sorry, somehow these did not transfer.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#388731 - 08/18/02 09:59 PM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 13,618
Graham Henderson (D) Offline
Graham Henderson (D)  Offline

Top 10 Poster

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 13,618
Esperance. West Australia
Mike. In the past, I have seen graphics put in the forums but tried to do it myself to no avail.
Maybe i am using the wrong format (JPG) but seems it can be done and that would be the way to put the stuff up you are trying to do. Save it as a compatable graphic and then paste it.
Just a thought which , if it works could come in handy inan instructional forum such as this.
Regards.
Graham

------------------
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/grahamhenderson_music.htm

#388732 - 10/25/02 11:28 AM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
Movin' on up.

------------------
Mike Dunbar Music


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#388733 - 02/03/03 02:37 PM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
bump

------------------
Mike Dunbar Music


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#388734 - 05/21/03 07:40 PM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
return of the bump

------------------
Mike Dunbar Music


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#388735 - 11/24/03 09:56 PM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
bump


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#388736 - 03/03/05 05:30 PM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
son of bump

------------------
You have to practice improvisation. -Art Tatum

Mike Dunbar Music


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#388737 - 01/21/06 01:24 PM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
bump for Linda

------------------
You have to practice improvisation. -Art Tatum

Mike Dunbar Music


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#388738 - 03/15/06 03:07 PM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
bump.

------------------
You have to practice improvisation. -Art Tatum

Mike Dunbar Music


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#388739 - 07/20/06 02:59 PM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
bump

------------------
You have to practice improvisation. -Art Tatum

Mike Dunbar Music


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#467978 - 01/25/07 03:01 PM Re: Nashville Numbers System Part 3: Time [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,408
Brian Austin Whitney Online content
Brian Austin Whitney  Online Content


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,408
Indianapolis, IN USA
Thought we should move this up for folks. = )


Brian Austin Whitney
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Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

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