Power Chords & Distortion

By: Allen Newsom

Power chords are probably the most commonly used chords in modern commercial music.  Power chords are easy to play chords that only require the use of 2 or 3 fingers to play.  Power chords are just like regular chords however they sound very powerful and thick.  For new guitarists, power chords are often the quickest route to playing popular music on the guitar without a lot of training or practicing.  Power chords are "movable chords", meaning we can move their position up or down the neck, to create different power chords.
 
Chords consist of 3 notes or more, whereas power chords only have 2 different notes.  Power chords are easy to play just about anywhere on the neck.  Some musicians think power chords lend very little harmonic texture to a song.  However, many musicians have successfully compiled millions of famous notes using power chords as the means of producing the music. 

Power chords have been popular since the birth of blues music, but when grunge music started to rise in popularity, many bands chose to use power chords almost exclusively, instead of more traditional chords.  You can hear them in all types of music, but most people associate them with rock.  This is because power chords are generally used more often in pop, rock, blues and heavy metal music.   

One of the most popular ways of learning guitar is to use guitar lessons online.  Back in the old days, people didn’t have the option of learning guitar online, so the only way to learn was to listen to records and try to emulate the sound or to take lessons.  This is a good option if you’re trying to teach yourself, and it can also go well with having lessons from a teacher if you choose to utilize it.

There are plenty of free guitar lessons online, but the trouble with many of them is that there is no structure to the learning.  Some of them seem to be vague in their presentations while others objectives can be seriously questioned.  Nevertheless, it is an inexpensive way to familiarize your self with learning to play.  You can still learn to play without paying the price as if you were having private guitar lessons.

Power chords are often best understood and read easiest when written in the form of tablature.  Many people have learned to play the guitar using only a basic knowledge of tablature.  This is proof of the value of this for of music reading and note playing.  To many it is the written choice of understanding and reading of guitar power chords.  Easy tablature guitar books have the chords to the songs included in them and are extremely basic.  There are plenty of tab websites online now where you can download any tab to a variety of songs.   

Tablature takes the six strings of the guitar and transfers them horizontally onto paper allowing the user to easily emulate and comprehend the fingering of the exact tone desired for the chosen song.  Take a look at the guitar tab from a particular solo in a song that interests you.  Then, play the song while looking at the tablature and following along with the song.  This will indeed assist your experience while using tablature and help you to learn the licks to your favorite song.

Rock guitarists use the power chord because it allows for much greater levels of distortion without causing the dissonance associated with other chords.  If you're playing a song with a lot of distortion, strumming a full chord might create too much dissonance.  On the other hand, power chords sound great with lots of distortion.

Similarly, when minor or major chords are used with distortion, the relative intensities of each note's overtones form an unpredictable difference in frequencies, which results in dissonance.  Or, you might say the notes fall outside the prevailing harmony of the selected piece being performed.  This often happens through inadequate amplification or other electronic processing.  To the point, the rationale behind a power chord is that when playing distorted electric guitar, the rich palette of overtones are brought out by the distortion.

Power Chords are movable chord shapes that can be played in any position on the fret board.  Power chords are common in heavy music, as well as many other musical styles.  Power chords are the first weapon in the arsenal of many guitar players especially those into rock, pop, blues, and heavy metal.  A good way to practice with power chords is to download and learn to read tablature which can found online.  Power chords allow for greater distortion while still maintaining sound integrity.

 

Music Articles & Information.
About the Author:

Allen Newsom articles can be viewed at his websites http://www.guitar-domain.com and http://www.emusicguides.com.  For discounted guitar and music instrument accessories visit his online store at http://www.topshelfaccessoriesonline.com.  Published by permission.  All reproductions must contain all links.

 


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