The Number System

The number system

Having known a lot about scales, it is important to know that every member (note) of these scales have a number starting from the first note (root) as number one which and the next note as number two and it increments till the notes of the scale is exhausted.

Let’s start from with the major scale. The major scale has 7 unique notes added to the last note β€œ8” which is just a mere repetition of the 1st note hence we still call it the β€œ1” instead of β€œ8”.

This is true for all 12 Major scales we learnt earlier. Below the F Major scale represented with the numbers

For major scales, the first note is β€œ1” as well and it follows similar numbering till we get to the end.

Below is the A minor scale numbered

This is also true all minor scales.

Finally, on the chromatic scale we have 12 unique notes hence we will number it in this manner


Benefits of the numbering system

The number system enables us take any concept easily from one key to another without bothering about the Letters or note names of whatever key you are transferring from or to.

Normally, if you played E,F,G,A sequentially in the key of C Major and you want to play same pattern or concept in key D Major. You will have to pass through the stress of picking each note one by one raising them each 2 steps away from C while paying attention to the note names (letters) in both key C and D.

But with the number system it’s very easy, simply do this:

  1. Write down both the C and D major scales and put their numbers beneath


  1. Look for the numbers that tallies with EFGA you played in key C. They are the number 345 and 6 as shown below.

  2. Similarly, find 345 and 6 in the new key D.


Now play the notes F#,G,A and B sequentially.

You have successfully played the 3456 which you did in key C, in the key of D.

It is very simple, this works for a whole lot more than playing notes in another key. It also works whenever we try to play some chord type in another key and it will come in handy especially with larger chords that we want to move to other keys.

For now, just keep practicing with the number system and thank me later.

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