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Hi, I’m Vi Wickam, and this is a myTalentForge Quick Tip of the Week!
What is a 1-4-5? What is it with all these numbers in music anyway?
I mean, this is supposed to be music. It’s supposed to be fun- we’re playing music, we’re not playing numbers, this isn’t math! Or is it?!
We have to have a way to communicate in music.
And one of the ways we can do that is by numbering our chords. So numbering our chords makes the song portable.
If I have […], that’s great in the key of A. I can say: A-B-E-A. If I want to play it in G though, it’s: G-C-E-G.
If I’m just saying the names of the notes: A-B-C-D-E-F-G, that doesn’t necessarily make it that portable, because if I want to play this song in the key of A and the song goes […], that would be: A-D-A-E-A-D-B-A.
And I’m saying, “Well we’re going to play that same song, but we’re going to do that in Eb.”
And I’m going to say, “Well, how do I transpose that? How does that work when I move from the key of A to Eb?”
Well, here come the numbers to the rescue! The numbers make it portable.
So I can say this is 1- because we’re in the key of A. In the key of A, 1 is A. But we’re moving to Eb. So Eb is now 1. Sounds a lot different, but we’ve now moved our center.
We’ve moved our 1 […]. If we move that to Eb, we have […]. And it’s the same relationship, and the numbers make the relationships portable.
So I can say: 1-4-1-5-1-4-5-1. If I write out those numbers, now I can play that in any key. I can say: 1-4-1-5-1-4-5-1… etc. […]. And I can play it in whatever key I want to, anything from A to Bb to C- you name it.
So giving those numbers 1-4-5, gives us the reference to make our keys portable.
Now the great thing is, is if we know 1, 4, and 5, we know the chords that occur maybe 90% of the time. So if we know our 1s, our 4s, and our 5s in each of the keys, then we’ve got a great foundation.
I’m going to cover this in great detail in my series in my Practical Music Theory on myTalentForge.com.
But 1, 4, and 5 are the foundation. So you’ve got a great start here.
If you want to learn more, go to myTalentForge.com and look up my series of Practical Music Theory. The Circle of Fifths will really give you a great framework to understand how really 1, 4, and 5 fit in.
But when you learn your 1, 4, and 5 you are in good shape!
I’ll see you next time. Have a great week!
PS. If you want to learn more about music theory from a practical perspective, check out my Practical Music Theory Series.