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Numera

Core Location: Theory and Mapping

Also included in the Nucleus.

Numera is the top row. Root equals zero.

Numera is the term I use (created) for the tone numbering system which calls the root of the system, zero. I used to call this zero-based system "numerical chromatics", but that is a lot to say and continually distanced students from taking a look at it.

So, with Numera, we label the base tone zero. When we do this, basic math works. The root for any key center is called zero and the remaining tones are then numbered 1-11. See naming equivalents below.

There are two core ways to use and view the structural naming with Numera:

  • Use zero only for the root of the system, and other chord roots are based on their respective number. Subsequent roots for chords or modes are based on their numerical starting point. Example: If C is zero [C Major triad = 0-4-7], the ii chord, Dm, will be 2-5-9, Em will be 4-7-11, and so on.
  • Keep moving the zero to a new root for any given chord [as we do with traditional theory naming when the root is called the 1].

I typically stick with the first [0-4-7, 2-5-9, 4-7-11, etc. - especially for open/alt tuning mapping], yet both are useful. It's worth considering each. Push a pencil.

One other interesting idea is a fixed zero, such as the tone A. A would always be zero. And, B would always be 2 and so on. I'll continue to explore this idea.

If you have an alternative name for "Numera", or know of others using the system and call it something else, let me know. I learned this system from Stanley Jordan while driving him around on a "mini-tourlet" in the Guitar Institute of Indianapolis days. I drove him to Carbondale and then Milwaukee.

Numera!