CHORDRULER

By the Numbers


By the Numbers


So you want to know what “By the Numbers” means. Well it’s very simple. First we’ll learn why and then what to do. Ever been in a jam or practicing with some other musicians and had some one yell a chord to you and you played the wrong chord. I’ll bet it was because you didn’t hear clearly what they said. Think about it. What do B, C, D, E and G all have in common? You got it, they all sound like eeee!! The only chords that sound different are A and F. So if the music is loud or the person calling out the chords isn’t speaking loud enough all you are going to hear is eeeeee!


How about this scenario, one musician is playing guitar without a capo and one of the others is playing with a capo. When they go to call out the chord they don’t know whether to call the chord they are playing or the one that you should play. Or maybe you are watching the other guitar player who is playing without a capo. For every chord you will be trying to transpose into the key that you are chording in.


The simple way to eliminate a lot of theses problems is to learn the number of the chords. It’s easy and with a little practice it will become automatic. Let’s take a for instance. A person is playing a guitar or whatever in the key of D. The chords that he/she is playing are D, G and A. You are playing in the key of C with a capo on the second fret. So you should be playing C, F and G. Well, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. But what if you can’t see the other guitar player’s hands! Again you have the problem of the chords being called out sounding like eeeeee. So use the chord numbers. Let’s look at the above example of two guitar players playing in the keys of D one without a capo and the other in the key of C with a capo at the second fret. Here is an easy way to keep it straight. A lot of experienced guitar players will already know this trick.


Here is how the two keys relate



D


E


F#

G


A


B


C#

D

I


II


III

IV


V


VI


VII

I

C


D


E

F


G


A


B

C


So if the guitar player calls out the I chord it means he is playing the D chord and you are playing with a capo at the second fret and you would play the C chord. A lot of songs and tunes can be played with three chords the I, IV and V (chord numbers are notated in roman numerals).


So it isn’t all that difficult. With a little practice you’ll be playing “By the Numbers.”


More about chords and chord building in another article.