• # Why The Number System Is So Important

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I find it surprising the number of musicians who don’t understand or haven’t mastered the number system.

It is one of the single, most important elements of playing by ear.

On a grander level, it allows musicians to speak on a “universal level.” We can describe what we’re doing in a song without relying solely on letters. It’s not, “D minor to G dominant 7 to C major 7” anymore. Now it’s, “2-5-1” in C!

Better yet, because we’re using numbers to describe a string of chords (aka – “chord progression“), we can take this same progression to ANY key by simply “recalibrating” our numbers to the new key.

In other words, sure, in C major, a 2-5-1 is a chord on D moving to a chord on G, ending with a chord on C.

(Taking this further, we even know what chords are most likely to be played because each tone naturally creates a particular chord. In this case, the 2nd tone of the scale [D] is usually minor, the 5th tone [G] is usually dominant, and the 1st tone [C] is usually major).

To take this to a new key if you understand numbers is pretty simple.

In F major, this same progression is:

G minor 7
C dominant 7
F major 7

In Bb major, it’s:

C minor 7
F dominant 7
Bb major 7

How did I do this?

By simply numbering the major scales of each of these keys.

For example, the C major scale is: C D E F G A B C.

But I don’t stop there. I simply number this scale starting at 1.

C is 1
D is 2
E is 3
F is 4
G is 5
A is 6
B is 7.

That’s it. Pretty simple.

The more difficult part is doing this in all 12 keys and memorizing each tone.

Luckily, you’ve got me!

I’ve created a free video tutorial emphasizing the importance of numbers. It’s the second video in a free series I’m giving away.

Simply sign up at this link and go through each of the videos.

While I haven’t talked about “finding the key of a song,” that’s what you’ll be studying first and foremost since that’s the MOST important skill you’ll need as an ear musician.

Then once you finish that video, the next video on the number system will be unlocked.

As a free bonus, I also throw in flash cards to help you study the number system. Lots of people have marveled over this method.

Until next time –

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#### Jermaine Griggs

Founder at HearandPlay.com
Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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