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Old 02-06-2013, 05:49 PM   #1
sweetdude3000
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Power chords: with or without octave note

I know technically a power chord is really not a chord, but a fifth and sometimes an octave.

I see some tabs and hear sometimes 2 or 3 note power chords.

Maybe I shouldn't sweat over it, but I'd like to know if anyone had thoughts on when bands usually use a two note powerchord vs a three note powerchord. Like Iron maiden or Black Sabbath for instance.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:53 PM   #2
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That is entirely situational, to the point that they might even play it differently during the course of the same song. You just have to use your ears and try to hear the difference, basically the octave makes the sound a tad more full. But don't use too much energy on it, there are more useful things to focus on.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:57 PM   #3
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Not having the octave sometimes alters the chord completely and the higher note becomes dominant. If you're playing a chord on the D string and just use two notes you will notice this.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:59 PM   #4
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Older bands, many play the full barre chords, because that is what was taught. I think, technically, a chord is simply more than one note, so a 5th chord, the so called "power chord" is a real chord. When a violin plays chords, it is usually only two notes. The octave, you get this with two strings anyway since you get the octave note from the (first) harmonic of the root.

BUT you are correct, don't sweat over it, play what you think sounds best.
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PSimonR
Older bands, many play the full barre chords, because that is what was taught. I think, technically, a chord is simply more than one note, so a 5th chord, the so called "power chord" is a real chord. When a violin plays chords, it is usually only two notes. The octave, you get this with two strings anyway since you get the octave note from the (first) harmonic of the root.

BUT you are correct, don't sweat over it, play what you think sounds best.



Technically, from a theory standpoint, a chord is a triad - or three, or more, pitches. By this accepted definition, a power chord is, technically, not a chord, however we still refer to them as chords.
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:17 PM   #6
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the third note is simply an octave of the root note. It's the same note so you're still only playing 2 notes.
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetdude3000
I know technically a power chord is really not a chord, but a fifth and sometimes an octave.

I see some tabs and hear sometimes 2 or 3 note power chords.

Maybe I shouldn't sweat over it, but I'd like to know if anyone had thoughts on when bands usually use a two note powerchord vs a three note powerchord. Like Iron maiden or Black Sabbath for instance.

You listen to much Wes Montgomery?
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PSimonR
I think, technically, a chord is simply more than one note, so a 5th chord, the so called "power chord" is a real chord.


They're not technically chords, just an interval played harmonically. But for simplicity's sake, they're called chords.
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:58 PM   #9
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They are musically the same with or without the octave. Play what you think sounds best in the current situation.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:00 PM   #10
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I'm no theory guy but with heavy distortion I tend to skip the octave as do most metal bands for the most part simply because it can muddy the chord and make it sound uneven. skipping it also makes playing fast power chords riffs much easier and less tensing to play. full powerchords tend to be used for slower sustained riffs at-least from all the tabs I've seen this is pretty typical of guys like hetfield. Maiden and Sabbath are no exception though, they also tend to use 2 note powerchords
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:03 PM   #11
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Get used to the sound of both versions, and the subtle variations between the two (sometimes you don't hit the fourth string as hard as the fifth and sixth), and make your choices based on your recognition of the differences between those sounds.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PSimonR
Older bands, many play the full barre chords, because that is what was taught. I think, technically, a chord is simply more than one note, so a 5th chord, the so called "power chord" is a real chord.
No, it isn't. You need a root (1st), 3rd, & 5th, to make a triad, the most basic "chord". (Or a root, a 5th, and a 4th, or stacked 3rds or 4ths, in case anybody want's to nitpick).

Power chord" is a name of convenience or a colloquialism.

In any event, to your observation about older bands "playing barre chords", I'd like to add something.

When you play an "A open" voice barre, you don't hit a 3rd interval until you play the B-2, @ the 2nd fret (C#). So basically, the bottom four strings are stacked 5ths (A5), bottom to top in this order, 5th, 1st, 5th, 1st.

With the "E open barre" you only get to G-3, before you hit a 3rd.

This includes both minor variations as well.

Anyhow, that's what I was taught as well, with the added insight to "lighten up and miss the top two strings" while strumming. It's perhaps fudging the concept a little, but the "power chord" is the underlying philosophy.

Last edited by Captaincranky : 02-06-2013 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:10 PM   #13
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what about bands that add a fifth below when they play power chords on the A string

*MIND IS BLOWN*
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:18 PM   #14
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chronowarp
what about bands that add a fifth below when they play power chords on the A string

*MIND IS BLOWN*
As I pointed out above, all that is required to play "the 5th below" is to not bother missing the E-6(*), when playing the A open barre voice.

I just wanted to mention that erstwhile someone's mind may be, "blown", it really doesn't pertain to me.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:47 PM   #16
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:52 PM   #17
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Oh sorry, condolences...
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:02 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by chronowarp
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Technically, we call that learning.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chronowarp
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Originally Posted by KG6_Steven
Technically, we call that learning.
My how terminology has changed over the "eons". 'Cause in the olden days, we used to call that "being stoned", either with or without extemporaneous sensory overload...
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:05 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Captaincranky
My how terminology has changed over the "eons". 'Cause in the olden days, we used to call that "being stoned", either with or without extemporaneous sensory overload...


In the olden days, we called it the same thing. However, today, with the politically correct crowd, it's now referred to as "learning."

I'll bet my "olden days" are older than yours.

Anyway... bringing it back on topic. Glad we solved the mystery of power chords and other things that are improperly named. Reminds me of the "whammy bar" on the guitar. How many people insist on calling it a tremolo bar?

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