I've started to play lead at my local church, but am confused by something that our worship leader does. He calls chords by number.. I understand that the number represents the note in a scale, but which scale? And how can I go about easily remembering it so when he calls them out, I know straight away?
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The Roman numerals (the numbers he's calling out) are simply based on whatever key you're in. For example, if you're playing in A, all the numbers are in relation to the A major scale.

Just learn a little major scale theory and it'll be very easy to remember and/or figure out on the fly.
The Roman numerals [numbers] represent the chords in a key.

In a major key, chords I, IV and V are major, chords ii iii and vi are minor and vii° is diminished. Capitals are major, lower case means minor, lower case with a degrees symbol means diminished and capitals with a small + sign are augmented.

E.g. some harmonic minor chords.

i - minor
ii° - diminished
III+ - augmented

If he's not telling you the key, ask him or look at the sheet music.
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Last edited by Woffelz at Nov 26, 2011,
The numbers don't tell you the chord names per se, they just tell you what the progression is. You have to know what key you're in first.
Quote by john.pratt1321
I've started to play lead at my local church, but am confused by something that our worship leader does. He calls chords by number.. I understand that the number represents the note in a scale, but which scale? And how can I go about easily remembering it so when he calls them out, I know straight away?

Hi John,

Most likely he's talking about the Nashville Numbering system, or the Roman numeric system. These are always based around the major scale in a given key.

The best way to know them immediately is to know the scales in a given key. And to know what the "Harmonized Major Scale" is in that given key.

Without some sort of progressive training from an outside source, these are probably not things that you will be able to easily or quickly do.

If you are being self-taught, I'd start by learning every single Major scale there is where you can identify them quickly. Try and write out every single Common use key. If you're a guitarist, focus on the most common keys:

C, G, E and A

Learn those 4 backwards and forwards, then go apply the Harmonized Major scale formulae to them. This will only get you into the basics. I teach and equip worship members, and so I know firsthand there are some pretty sophisticated progressions out there, and you're likely to find yourself in over your head for a while. Being self taught is the slowest road to go, if you're in a specific playing situation.

If you do need more specific help, I do mentor for free, and I also teach this stuff to people around the world, and you're more than welcome to IM me here for mentoring, and if you are interested in specific training for your situation, a catalog of what we teach etc.

Best,

Sean
Quote by Sean0913
Hi John,

Most likely he's talking about the Nashville Numbering system, or the Roman numeric system. These are always based around the major scale in a given key.

The best way to know them immediately is to know the scales in a given key. And to know what the "Harmonized Major Scale" is in that given key.

Without some sort of progressive training from an outside source, these are probably not things that you will be able to easily or quickly do.

If you are being self-taught, I'd start by learning every single Major scale there is where you can identify them quickly. Try and write out every single Common use key. If you're a guitarist, focus on the most common keys:

C, G, E and A

Learn those 4 backwards and forwards, then go apply the Harmonized Major scale formulae to them. This will only get you into the basics. I teach and equip worship members, and so I know firsthand there are some pretty sophisticated progressions out there, and you're likely to find yourself in over your head for a while. Being self taught is the slowest road to go, if you're in a specific playing situation.

If you do need more specific help, I do mentor for free, and I also teach this stuff to people around the world, and you're more than welcome to IM me here for mentoring, and if you are interested in specific training for your situation, a catalog of what we teach etc.

Best,

Sean

Thanks a lot, I'll let you know if I need any help. I think I have it down though; I know most of my scales already, but just wasn't sure on how this all applied.
2010 Fender American Standard Stratocaster
2011 PRS SE Santana limited edition of 25
2007 Ibanez SZ520QM-VCB