Major Keys and Chord Number System

Here is a more advanced blog post for those of you who are finished with 10 Easy Lessons or the Mini Lessons Series.  If you have yet to complete either of those ebooks, this may look like mumbo jumbo to you.  It’s important for you to learn only what you need to know until you really feel you understand it enough to move on… but I don’t want to leave the ones who’ve bought and completed the beginner lessons without something extra for free here on the blog!

I don’t want to say that a brand new fresh player shouldn’t check this out, but I really don’t want anyone to overload/confuse themselves…

Let me remind you, that if you need time to catch up, then you can always find this in the Category Menu on the right sidebar under “Advanced”.

Thanks!


Most popular guitar music is written in a Major Key.

The Major scale has 7 notes.

The Chord formula for any Major key is: major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished.

The 1st, 4th, and 5th chords in a key are always major.

The 2nd, 3rd, and 6th are always minor chords.

The 7th note of a Major Scale is always diminished.

Written in Roman numerals: I   ii  iii   IV   V   vi   vii(dim)

Majors in capitals, minors and diminished in lower case.


Build a chart for yourself and keep it in your guitar case:

Major Key I ii iii IV V vii viii(dim) I (Root)
Root Whole Tone Whole Tone Half Tone Whole Tone Whole Tone Whole Tone Half Tone
A Major A Bm C#m D E F#m G#dim A
B Major B C#m D#m E F# G#m A#dim B
C Major C Dm Em F G Am Bdim C
D Major D Em F#m G A Bm C#dim D
E Major E F#m G#m A B C#m D#dim E
F Major F Gm Am Bb C Dm Edim F
G Major G Am Bm C D Em F#dim G

If the song I am playing has F#m, A, D and G….

Then… Looking at the chart I can figure the Key to be in D Major.

Using the Roman Numerals I can translate the pattern to:  iii V I IV

If I want to Transpose (change the Key) I go back to the chart and define the chords from the Roman Numeral Pattern in the new Key.

So for example,  I am working with a singer and they have better range in a F Major key…  the chart and number system makes it easy to change the key.

My pattern was:  iii V I IV

In D Major it is:  F#m, A, D, and G

In F Major it is: Am, C, F, and Bb


Again…

Most popular guitar music is written in a Major Key.

The Major scale has 7 notes.

The Chord formula for any Major key is: major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished.

The 1st, 4th, and 5th chords in a key are always major.

The 2nd, 3rd, and 6th are always minor chords.

The 7th note of a Major Scale is always diminished.

Written in Roman numerals: I   ii  iii   IV   V   vi   vii(dim)

Majors in capitals, minors and diminished in lower case.

Build your chart and keep it in your guitar case.


This information is the foundation for the Nashville Number System.

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