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Power Chord Progressions

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(@fretsource)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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I assume an inverted chord would sound horrible when played immediately after its original because you're going from a major interval to a minor one (or vice versa)

I can see why you'd think that, but in fact it doesn't.

Take a simple root position 3-note C chord (C E G) = X320XX
Invert it by putting that low C up an octave (E G C) = XX201X

Changing from one to the other doesn't sound at all bad. Many people wouldn't even notice there was any change at all if they heard it in a song. And it happens all the time in strumming anyway. Unless we're playing close attention, we don't always hit the fifth string, and it's hardly noticeable.

On the other hand it can sound bad if you hear someone trying to strum, for example, a root position D chord, (XX0232) but they constantly hit the open fifth string too, (X00232). That perfect fourth (2nd inversion of the chord) between the 5th and 4th strings can sound unstable and almost dissonant.


   
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(@fretsource)
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There's quite a few songs where changing from a minor to a major chord of the same root note fits well too, but I'm not sure of the theory behind it and of course I can only think of one example now I've mentioned it - Delilah.

Same root minor to major endings used to be quite common in ye olden days. An example is Greensleeves. It's in a minor key throughout but the last chord can be played major giving it a strong final sound, rather than going out with a whimper as can happen with minor endings.

I like major to minor changes too. George Harrison's "While my guitar gently weeps" has it: Am Am7 D Dmin.
Oops - I've just realised we're veering off topic - This thread is about power chords - sorry :oops:


   
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(@nirvgas)
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Thanks C&S and Fretsource, I guess I didn't realize that the root note changed when the chord is inverted. :o That sure opens a lot of doors as far as progressions go! If I only had my guitar in front of me right now... 8) :lol: <-----Those are my inspired faces

Life is my friend
Rake it up to take it in
Wrap me in your cinnamon
Especially in Michigan
...well I could be your friend- RHCP


   
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(@misanthrope)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Thanks C&S and Fretsource, I guess I didn't realize that the root note changed when the chord is inverted. :o That sure opens a lot of doors as far as progressions go! If I only had my guitar in front of me right now... 8) :lol: <-----Those are my inspired faces
Errr, I meant for intervals - as in if you invert G5 you get D4.

I'm not sure that it's the correct way of looking at things when applied to a chord, ie, more than two notes. In the example FretSource gave above for an inversion of C, you'd still call it a C, just with a slash to note the root (ie C/E) rather than refere to it as an E-something.

Many apologies for any confusion, I'm going to go and stand in the corner now :)

ChordsAndScales.co.uk - Guitar Chord/Scale Finder/Viewer


   
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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Actually, a G5 inverted can still be called a G5. Or it could be called a D4 in both positions - the notes are identical.

Chords and intervals have root notes, and they have bass notes; they don't have to be the same. Root notes (at least in tonal music) will follow a logical progression - the 'chord progression' or implied harmony... but the other tones, which create the chords or intervals 'on top of' the root progression, can fall either above or below the root. We learn intervals 'root up' because it's easier to grasp, but wherever the root falls it's the same harmony.

The whole reason for understanding things like 'a major third inverted is a minor sixth' is to grasp the idea that the two sets of notes are the same - that a composer who wants to use a major third feeling in the harmony, but wants to avoid actually using a major third, has another way to get the same result.

Take the example that art&lutherie gave earlier in this thread: G-D-E-C. If you're in the key of C, it's hard to see the root motion... it looks like V-II-III-I, because that's how the bass line moves. As we don't run into progresions like that, is it something new?

Nope. The roots aren't the bass line - they're the ascending scale: G-A-B-C. G5 -> A4 -> B4 -> C5.

Sometimes it's easy to see the harmonic structure, as in a 'straight' I-IV-V progression. Sometimes it's not so obvious, like in this interval progression. But in tonal music, it's always there... if it sounds good, there's a logical reason.

This doesn't just apply to chord progressions, either. Any analytical concept in music, from intervals to chords to forms (like Sonata, Rondo, or 12-bar blues) is just an outer framework that gives a logical structure to the notes inside. Whether it's obvious or obscure depends on the composer.

Composers, especially 'modern' songwriters, aren't always aware of structures as they use them. But music tells a story - in order to be satisfying to the listener, it needs to give you the sense that it's going somewhere. As a result, all tonal music has structure... just as all stories have plots.

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(@Anonymous)
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There's quite a few songs where changing from a minor to a major chord of the same root note fits well too, but I'm not sure of the theory behind it and of course I can only think of one example now I've mentioned it - Delilah

Dead in the Water now by David Gray uses an Am to A in the verses. It's weird but it seems to work (but only if you sing along, by itself it doesn't seem to fit somehow. weird :P)


   
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(@nirvgas)
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:D true...

Life is my friend
Rake it up to take it in
Wrap me in your cinnamon
Especially in Michigan
...well I could be your friend- RHCP


   
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(@nirvgas)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 171
Topic starter  

Hey thanks all! I was actually just working on a song that used this technique and didn't even know it! Cool.

I can't seem to find anything in the GN lessons on power chords or inverted intervals, but http://www.musictheory.net shows a really decent lesson on it. The bass note seems to be the key. It really helps to realize when the root note is the bass note and when it isn't.

Also, inverting the interval seems to give the song more of a resolution, much like open chords in that sense.

Life is my friend
Rake it up to take it in
Wrap me in your cinnamon
Especially in Michigan
...well I could be your friend- RHCP


   
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(@jasonrunguitar)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 273
 

Do you know the major of minor scales? I like to mess around with progressions using powerchords with roots made up of the different notes on those scales. They add a little spice when mixed in with your usual I-IV-V chords (which are in the scale as well, but I'm talking about the other notes too) :smile:

-Jason
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(@saryu)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 49
 

There's quite a few songs where changing from a minor to a major chord of the same root note fits well too, but I'm not sure of the theory behind it and of course I can only think of one example now I've mentioned it - Delilah

Dead in the Water now by David Gray uses an Am to A in the verses. It's weird but it seems to work (but only if you sing along, by itself it doesn't seem to fit somehow. weird :P)

"This ain't a love song" by Bon Jovi uses the following for the verses: E (use the C shape) - B - Bm - A - Am - E. It sounds good, can anyone explain the theory behind it though? The rest of the song (bridge and chorus) just uses chords from the key of E.


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Well, if you love powerchords listen to The Who. Pete Townshend was famous for playing huge powerchords. The early Who (mid 60's) is best.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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