• Here’s a method that’ll make your chords more powerful

    in Chords & Progressions

    powerchord.jpgThis post won’t be long. In fact, it’ll be real simple.

    If you’ve always wondered how to make your chords sound full, here’s a strategy you can start implementing right away.

    If you already do this, then you’ll enjoy this as a review.

    Power chords

    It’s basically made up of a perfect fifth interval. Some refer to it as a dyad since it’s really only two notes (the more commonly used big sister, “triad,” is a three-note chord).

    Yup, it’s pretty much that simple.

    And if you know your intervals, you’ll understand that a fifth is simply the distance between the root and fifth tone of a scale.

    C major
    C D E F G A B C
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7

    So, to play a power chord, just play the “1 + 5.”

    But to make it even better, double up on your root by playing octaves.

    1 + 5 + 8 (a.k.a. – “1,” but the octave)

    Where do you use power chords?

    Typically, you can use them on your left hand to “power” up your chord.

    Since they make use of the perfect fifth interval, which is found in major, minor, and dominant chords, they are pretty flexible.

    C major
    C + E + G on right /// C + G + C on left

    C minor
    C + Eb + G on right /// C + G + C on left

    C dominant 7
    C + E + G + Bb on right /// C + G + C on left

    But keep in mind that since you’re already playing C and G with your left hand, you can get more creative with your right hand:

    C major 7

    E + B + E on right /// C + G + C on left

    *Remember this chord from yesterday’s lesson?

    Taking power chords even further

    You don’t have to stick with the “1 + 5 + 1” all the time.

    I recommend being flexible with the third tone of the power chord (the “octave 1”).

    For example, if you’re playing a C major 7 chord on the right hand (C + E + G + B), instead of playing “C + G + C” on the left, you can play “C + G + B” on the left, which emphasizes the major 7th interval.

    Or if you’re playing a C minor 7 or C dominant 7 chord, you can play “C + G + Bb” on the left to emphasize the flat 7th interval.

    However you choose, power chords can be a wonderful addition to your playing, especially if you’re just doing one fingered bass notes right now.

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    Until next time —

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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

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