Friday, May 13, 2011

Power Chords

In my last post I listed some of the elements that make music heavy, particularly music in the metal genre. In this post I will address one of these elements and try to reach a greater understanding of the music I love.

Question: What is power chord?
*Power chords typically contains only two different notes, the root note, and another note called the "fifth". For this reason, power chords are referred to as "fifth chords" (written C5 or E5, etc). 

*The power chord does NOT contain the note which traditionally tells us whether the chord is major or minor. Thus, a power chord is neither major nor minor. It can be used in a situation where either a major or a minor chord is called for.

*Power chords work well in certain circumstances (in rock music on electric guitars for example), but don't work well in others, particularly folk-style songs played on acoustic guitar. 

*A power chord is also often referred to as a "fifth" or "5" chord. If, for example, you see a chord written as C5, this is a C power chord. 

Take this chord progression for example: Cmajor - Aminor - Dminor - Gmajor
You could play this progression with power chords as follows:
C5 - A5 - D5 - G5

*You can optionally omit the pinky finger, and play a power chord simply as a 2-note chord. Most guitarists stick with the 3-note version, as it sounds more full.

*Another common fingering for a power chord is to play the root note with the first finger, while the third finger barres the other two notes. 

*Power chords are generally used in pop, rock, and blues music. Because they are rather small chords, they are not commonly used in acoustic strumming situations. 

*Many guitarists prefer to use all downstrokes when strumming power chords. This results in a more "chunky" sound.   

*Here Are Some Common Power Chords*

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