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Whats a power chord?

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AudioBoy
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Someone help me out.
Whats the difference between a refular chord and a power chord?


   
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greybeard
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A chord is defined as being three or more notes played simultaneously. A power chord, therefore, doesn't classify as a "real" chord, but as an "interval".
A major chord is made up of a triad (3 notes), consisting of the root (or tonic), the third note in the scale and the fifth note, so, in C, you'd have C (root), E (3rd note in the scale) and G (5th note).
A "powerchord" or 5 chord (another way that powerchords are described) is similar to a major chord, but only the root and 5th (this is why "5 chord") are played. The thing that determines whether a chord is major or minor is the 3rd note in the scale, which is not present in a powerchord - so it can be used with either major or minor scales.
You may often see a powerchord with 3 notes, but if you look carefully, the root is played twice - once (generally) as the lowest note and, again, as the highest note:
|-x
|-x
|-x
|-7
|-7
|-5
is an "A5" or A powerchord, consisting of A (6/5), E (5/7) and A (4/7 - which is one octave higher than the A on 6/5)

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Anonymous
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Google power chords and you may find a plethora of information on power chords !

Mostly a powerchord is played on electric guitar with distortion.What guitar/style of playing you are into ?

Is their any specific song you want help on ?


   
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dogbite
(@dogbite)
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powerchord = two notes played together.

regular chord=triad=minmum of three notes.

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nolongerme
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difference: easier than regular chords


   
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Anonymous
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The main reason to play a power chord is it doesn't sound messy when used with high amounts of distortion.


   
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undercat
(@undercat)
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It's what you plug into the wall to make your amp work, silly!

...

Oh Chord got it!

A power chord is a commonly used dyad that consists of the root of the chord and it's 5th. Guitarists often include the octave of the root note to add fullness to a chord.

Typical power chord:

e------
B------
G------
D------
A---5--
E---3--

With the octave:

e------
B------
G------
D---5--
A---5--
E---3--

Because this chord contains no open strings, it can be moved to any position, and because the shape of your hand doesn't change, it makes it possible for even beginners to play the chords quickly in sequence.

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Wes Inman
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Here is one of the best articles I've ever seen on the famous POWERCHORD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_chord

Myself (just my own personal opinion that really means nothing), I believe you can only play a powerchord on an electric guitar turned up LOUD.

An acoustic guitarist can easily play a octave/fifth chord. But is that really a powerchord?

I don't think so. No, you got to have some "power" behind this chord. And the power is a loud amplifier.

Pete Townshend of The Who is probably the person who made powerchords famous. But Pete did not always play a simple 5 chord. No, at times he played full major or minor chords (or others) on all 6 strings. What made them powerchords was the huge volume, sustain, and attack.

An excellent example of this style is Teenage Wasteland by The Who, or the intro to Can't Get Enough of Your Love by Bad Company.

Most Punk is played with 5 chords. But these chords are usually played quickly, without sustain. These are not true power chords either. A powerchord needs long..............SUSTAIN.

The definition has changed over the years. But to me, you can only play a powerchord on an electric guitar. It's got to be loud, and it must have long sustain.

Just my 2 cents.

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GoodVicHunting
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A related question, the third determines whether a chord sounds bright (maj Third) or gloomy (min Third) ya?
So does that mean power chords are moodless?
If so, how do you give them a mood. For example, "Smells like teen spirit" is all power chords but it sounds dark?
I am wondering how is that accomplished.

Thanks
Vic

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AudioBoy
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Topic starter  

Here is one of the best articles I've ever seen on the famous POWERCHORD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_chord

i did search there before I made this post, but it confused me so badly, I almost fell over. But so far, you guys have pretty much simplified it :)


   
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David Hodge
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A related question, the third determines whether a chord sounds bright (maj Third) or gloomy (min Third) ya?
So does that mean power chords are moodless?
If so, how do you give them a mood. For example, "Smells like teen spirit" is all power chords but it sounds dark?
I am wondering how is that accomplished.

Thanks
Vic
It's usually done by taking a chord progression as a context. The chord progression of Smells Like Teen Spirit, to use the example you cited, is:

F5 Bb5 Ab5 Db5

If you heard just the first two chords of this progression, you still wouldn't know if it were major or minor. It could very well be "moodless" (great word, by the way :wink: ) as you say.

But the following chords are what give the song its minor quality. Ab5 consists of Ab (the minor third of F) and Eb (the dominant seventh of F), which, when combined in your ears, make an Fm7 chord. Likewise, Db5 consists of Db (the minor third of Bb) and Ab (the dominant seventh of Bb) and this creates the sound of Bbm7. Basically Cobain took a typical I - IV progression (F to Bb or Fm to Bbm) and transposed it up a minor third (Ab to Db or Abm to Dbm). He was very fond of this and you'll find the use of power chords spaced in this interval of a minor third all throughout his songwriting. It's his footprint, if you will.

Tom Serb (Noteboat) recently wrote a much better (and more detailed) explanation of how the ear holds onto previously heard notes and it's around this forum someplace! I'll try to hunt it down. In the meantime, though, I hope this helps.

Peace


   
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forrok_star
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I think everyone has explained it in music cents.

In my world it's when your standing stage in front of a row of Marshalls set at 10...lol

Joe


   
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