May 13, 2008

Power Chords

Power Chords

Might as well keep up with this chord structure thing, and the last two articles were about the construction of triads. What comes to my mind now, are power chords.

If you already know how to play power chords, and a lot of you do, you might as well read this article to find out a little bit more about them.

Also, if you haven't yet, make sure to check out the two part article on triadic chord structures, because I'm connecting these chord segments in such a fashion that it really sinks in. This type of studying is called metacognition, and it is a really affective way to learn anything. The next article will deal with the structures of Major and Minor 7th chords.

First of all, power chords are thought to be used primarily in heavier styles of music. It is true that it is present in metal, rock and punk genres of music, but traces of it can also be found in Andalusian style Flamenco. Dave Mathews was also quite fond of the chord structure and his musical influence were the sounds of South Africa, which makes you wonder.

It is not called a power chord because it is used in powerful forms of music, instead it gets its name from the fact that it uses the power to the 5th.

A power chord is either a Major or Minor triad, except that the 3rd that is found in a triad, is left out.

The formula for creating a power chord is different than the formula for creating a triad. The formula for a Major triad are the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the Major scale.

The power chord formula are the 1st, 5th and 8th notes of a major or minor scale.

What gives the power chord such a full sound is the fact that the 1st and 8th notes are the same note, so it doubles the sound. The 8th note is optional and is not always used, however, the 8th note is also an octave of the root (1st). To add the 8th note gives it an even fuller sound. Take a look at the below illustrations. They are structured out of A.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

You will notice that it does not matter whether or not you construct a power chord from a major or minor scale. The 1st, 5th and 8th notes don't change between the scales.

The chords are simple yet unique in that sense. They are unique because the aspect of major or minor depends on the modulation of the chords. Simply put, it all depends on the melodic structure of a song. A way of looking at would be that the chords are chained together as notes in the progression of a particular scale.

Stay tuned. Next time its major and minor 7th chords.

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