As some of you may have noticed, I’m now writing a weekly newsletter. If you’re interested in subscribing, you can learn more here, or just scroll down on the main blog page and find the form in the right-hand column. I hope you’ll check it out. I’m really psyched about it.
When I think that the content of the newsletter might inspire some discussion, I’ll post it in my blog so that people can leave comments. Here’s the first issue—hair combed, backpack on, lunchbox in hand:
I love power chords. They’re so easy to play, yet so useful, that some guitarists spend a lifetime playing little else (not that I would recommend this). If a jazz chord is a Shakespearian love sonnet, then a power chord is a big, wet kiss.
Here are more reasons to love power chords:
1. Beginners can play them using just one fingering. To change chords, just scoot up and down the neck. Stick to power chords with a root note (the lowest note) on the 6th string at first—they’re easier. And if you lower your 6th string to a D (called drop-D tuning), you can play power chords with one FINGER by barring the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings.
2. Power chords sound great with lots of distortion. “Normal” major and minor chords have three kinds of notes: A 1st, a 3rd, and a 5th (they’re called triads for this reason). These notes normally sound lovely together, but when you crank up distortion, the 3rd creates all this muddy dissonance. Power chords have no 3rd—they’re made of just 1sts and 5ths, which is why they’re notated with a 5 (as in A5 or G5).
3. Power chords are neither major nor minor. If the keyboard player is playing Am, you can play A5. Now she’s switching to an A major chord? Keep chugging on A5—you need to save energy for that 10-minute solo coming up…
4. Power chords aren’t just for long-tressed hessians. They were the first kind of harmony, after the octave, to be accepted by composers of Gregorian chants.
Don’t know a power chord from a Power Ranger? Here’s some tablature. The notes in parentheses are optional.
Here’s more information on power chords.