Article on origins of the Number System

Ovaltine52

New Member
So Mark, I guess what I'm going to bring up might not be the place for this. But because of that classic, legendary, & most of all CORRECT intention Neal had for NNS with the "Are You Lonesome Tonight" chart, I wanted to whine a little for lack of better description:

Awhile back, I became frustrated with the "younger" P & W kids & their # charts assuming that all 2's, 3's, & 6's are minor. Very long story short, because I'm in the Nashville area, all I had to do was text a couple of friends that happened to be "currently working" studio players that would shoot back texts for these kids to read like, "too confusing", & "All numbers are considered major unless otherwise specified", with some rethinking it, some not. Without going into "confusing NSS with figured bass" & putting a creative limit on P & W music, I'm not saying "My dad is bigger than your dad" here. I just don't get why there are those that don't get that it wasn't broke in the 1st place & why there has to be this reinventing of said wheel. :confused:

I don't know if you were consulted on the Wikipedia definition of NNS, but somebody finally kicked it thru stating that all #'s are major unless otherwise specified. I was enlightened to see that, to say the least.

Thing is, I can shift to that "assuming minor" way of thinking easy, but thankfully, I don't have to deal with that anymore.

And it was encouraging to see both a "2" & a "2-" on the bridge of "Are You Lonesome....". :D "Blue Christmas" is another of his charts that also shows plenty of cool shorthand techniques that make sense.

Done ranting for now. Always open for discussion.
 

maracox

New Member
For years I wrote correctly 2-, 3-, 6- in a diatonic context. Just recently I switched to 2, 3 and 6 instead. If it happens to be Major, I accordingly write 2Maj, 3Maj, 6Maj. But this applies in less than 5% (I play P&W mainly). [All other #s are assumed to be Major and must be indicated as minor if not]

Why did I do that: I mean NNS is meant to be a convenient shorthand. So this way it is even shorter / faster which is pretty much aligned with its intention.

But that is not the actual reason. I switched to 2-column-mode in 1chart and this way chances are much better that #'s are vertically aligned from row to row. This helps to get a quick optical grasp of what's going on.

There are other symbols that are more individual and also have to be agreed on in NNS. So I'd say when You just make clear that 2 means 2- in a diatonic context, why not?
 

Mark

Administrator
Staff member
I tend to take a "whatever works" approach when it comes to these questions. Or to extend that a little further: whatever works in the heat of battle, for you and everyone else who potentially might be using your chart. If everyone's comfortable with "assuming minor," go for it. Maybe your style of music helps make that possible, and as @maracox mentioned, maybe you get some benefits from using that type of shorthand.

Personally, I like to "assume major unless otherwise specified." And even with that, sometimes I'll write "3Maj" rather than "3" just to reinforce (for my future self reading the chart months later) that it wasn't a mistake. But that's just me, and it doesn't factor into how 1Chart is built.

@Ovaltine52, I didn't have anything to do with the wiki on the NNS, but I do think that's an accurate way to introduce someone to the system. And then users can morph the standard approach if they want.
 

Ovaltine52

New Member
Well 1st off maracox, I came from the old school "All #'s are major..."/Neal Matthews straight up, & in NO WAY do I want you to assume I think you're "wrong", because you're not. As Mark said above, you're morphing it into what works for you. And though I don't particularly agree with it doesn't mean I don't understand why, that I see it coming, & can minor 2's, 3's, & 6's on P & W charts like all get out. :D I guess the reason my feathers were a little ruffled is prior to your post is that some P & W musicians (around here; Nashville, of all places) would actually try to force it on me to assume 2,3, & 6 are minor & trying to convince this geezer musician that that's the way it is & always has been. :rolleyes: You appear to have full grasp of the original way & decided to go the 2,3, & 6 are minor route, & I'll cheerlead you all the way on that. My issue is with those that believe the 2,3, & 6 are minor route is & always has been THE way.

And I can imagine your 2 column format will be neat as a pin/easy to read. The "kids" around here need to get off these word processors, (as a player, that's what I've had to deal with, but again, not anymore) get 1Chart (no plug intended, I'd like them to do ME a favor) & start at least tidying up their charts some. Anyone who tries to make ANY chart easier to read has my vote.

All this said, I am going to "go there" with this: Okay, you're reading a standard "notes/chord letters" chart. You're in key of 'C', then you come upon a chord notated as 'A'. Are you going to play an Am?

Hey! Good discussion, thankew!
 
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Mark

Administrator
Staff member
All this said, I am going to "go there" with this: Okay, you're reading a standard "notes/chord letters" chart. You're in key of 'C', then you come upon a chord notated as 'A'. Are you going to play an Am?
I wouldn't be playing a 3rd at all on that chord. :)
 
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