The ToneWay® Project: helping people play music

Number chords on song s

I practice along on your song page clips, and just wondered the number system for chord changes, don't quiet understand the number system. I have lots of songs that may be in the key of G for instance and they will have the letter of the principle chord change above lyric. Thanks for your site it has been a big help in my music as I have only been playing since 2010 and 67 years old now play the mandolin at church and senior homes.

Thanks and sincerely Dale Prince

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A great big thanks to all input from each one of you, yes music is my passion since retiring in 2009 and becoming a child of GOD and learning to play his music. always feel free to post anything that would be of use.

Just a little info the young gentleman standing beside me is the Mr. Curly Seckler a legend in Bluegrass music as he was the mandolin player for The Lester Flatt Martha White shows in the sixties. He is now 98 years young and I finally met him and was invited to his home in 2014 as my Dad Paul Prince played the fiddle for Charlie Monroe and his Kentucky Pardners in the late 40's. Just thought you may be interested, I just got a late start in music but, I guess it was meant to be as it has turned out on my late start.

Thanks again and sincerely
Dale M. Prince


Thanks again to each of you that took the time to post and reply to my question.

Love to All


Why not just ask Curly or your Dad Paul,???


Thanks Mr. Norris but my dad is deceased as of 1997, and Mr. Curly is going on 99 years of age probably cares less about the number system, and due to his health I only keep up with him thru his Agent Ms. Penny Parsons. Thanks for the input, I understand it pretty good now, as I mostly only want to learn the Majors, Minors, 7's and there are very few minors in gospel music that I would play. Thanks again.


Dale, I'm not actively playing anywhere now but I played bass for several gospel trios and quartets back in the 60s.
If anyone had told me there was a number system it would have come as a surprise to me. I learned to play by ear and at that time i didn't know anything about reading music or music theory. I had the pleasure of appearing on stage with the Happy Goodman Family, The Seago Brothers and Naomi, and my favorite, Wendy Bagwell.
Back then I would say that 95% of the songs used only 3 chords. Sometimes you might have what we called a “off chord”. That was like if you are in in the key of G using GCD or GCD7 and the song calls for a E chord.
But we didn't know about the numbering system, probably others did.
When we practiced a new song we determined where the singers needed it and that's where we played it.
I have since found the number system to be handy for documenting the chords and lyrics of a song. I allows me to have only one printed copy showing the progression.
I play some blues now and you often see a I IV V progression

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