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#1
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.
#2
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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#3
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.
#4
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.
#5
Quote 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.
#6
the third note is simply an octave of the root note. It's the same note so you're still only playing 2 notes.
#7
Quote 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?
#8
Quote 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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She insists to wear this lights.

I don't think so.

How can I persuade her?
#9
They are musically the same with or without the octave. Play what you think sounds best in the current situation.
On playing the Paul Gilbert signature at the guitar store extensively, my missus sighed:
"Put it down now, It's like you love that guitar more than me!"
In Which I replied.
"Well it has got two F-Holes!"
#10
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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Last edited by arabmetallion at Feb 6, 2013,
#11
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.
#12
Quote 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 at Feb 6, 2013,
#15
Quote 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.
#19
Quote by chronowarp
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Is
Blown
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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...
#20
Quote 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?
Last edited by KG6_Steven at Feb 6, 2013,
#21
A power chord technically is not a chord. However, it is beneficial to think of them as segments of chords. For example, an E5 in the key of E major is really an implied E major chord, or I in roman numeral notation.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
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#23
Depends on the scenario, generally without the doubled octave for me, but for huge sounding riffs it can be cool to add the octave, and even the 5th below the root. In fact you can create a sus4 type of chord right across all 6 strings which sounds intense as a powerchord replacement
#24
what if i told you

the bass adds another octave below the power chord
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#25
I think it's interesting that some bands have one guitar play the power chord with octave and the other plays the 5th with octave. It sounds damn good sometimes.

I am still puzzled why fuller chords generally don't sound good and usually aren't played with distortion. Often it seems if full chords are used they are divided among several tracks which play 2-max 4 notes each. Is it more to get the higher notes on thicker strings?
#26
Quote by fanapathy
I think it's interesting that some bands have one guitar play the power chord with octave and the other plays the 5th with octave. It sounds damn good sometimes.

I am still puzzled why fuller chords generally don't sound good and usually aren't played with distortion. Often it seems if full chords are used they are divided among several tracks which play 2-max 4 notes each. Is it more to get the higher notes on thicker strings?


no, people with shit tone just don't know how to play with lower distortion. almost every big modern metal band utilizes large chords these days
Quote by theogonia777
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#27
Quote by fanapathy
I think it's interesting that some bands have one guitar play the power chord with octave and the other plays the 5th with octave. It sounds damn good sometimes.

I am still puzzled why fuller chords generally don't sound good and usually aren't played with distortion. Often it seems if full chords are used they are divided among several tracks which play 2-max 4 notes each. Is it more to get the higher notes on thicker strings?

Because distortion makes the overtones louder, and you get mud city with the more shit you cram into that space.
#28
Quote by arabmetallion
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


The octave shouldn't "muddy" a the power chord or make it uneven unless your guitar is out of tune, it's the same note as the root.
#29
Thanks for all. I was wondering why I saw some tab with Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath with the octave in the power chord, but it's probably wrong. I think the three notes has it's place, but the root and fifth only helps bring out the power of the perfect fifth sound and lengthy an edgy character, while the octave doesn't really muddy it, per se, I think rounds it out more. Muddy would probably be like adding the 3rd with distortion.

ETA: Guess it's semantics though. Yea I think that octave does give more overtones so then it gives a muddy character. A major chord with an octave note is probably even more muddy.
Last edited by sweetdude3000 at Feb 8, 2013,
#30
Quote by sweetdude3000
Thanks for all. I was wondering why I saw some tab with Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath with the octave in the power chord, but it's probably wrong. I think the three notes has it's place, but the root and fifth only helps bring out the power of the perfect fifth sound and lengthy an edgy character, while the octave doesn't really muddy it, per se, I think rounds it out more. Muddy would probably be like adding the 3rd with distortion.

ETA: Guess it's semantics though. Yea I think that octave does give more overtones so then it gives a muddy character. A major chord with an octave note is probably even more muddy.

I think power chords with octave are more used than power chords without octave. If you want to emphasize the fifth more, you don't play the octave.

I almost always play power chords with an octave.
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#31
Quote by food1010
A power chord technically is not a chord. However, it is beneficial to think of them as segments of chords. For example, an E5 in the key of E major is really an implied E major chord, or I in roman numeral notation.


Not so fast, my fine foody friend.

A chord is any time more than one note sounds in unison.

I know, I know we tend to think of chords as triads, but still ...
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
#32
Quote by sweetdude3000
Thanks for all. I was wondering why I saw some tab with Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath with the octave in the power chord, but it's probably wrong. I think the three notes has it's place, but the root and fifth only helps bring out the power of the perfect fifth sound and lengthy an edgy character, while the octave doesn't really muddy it, per se, I think rounds it out more. Muddy would probably be like adding the 3rd with distortion.

ETA: Guess it's semantics though. Yea I think that octave does give more overtones so then it gives a muddy character. A major chord with an octave note is probably even more muddy.


All notes have overtones, but the overtones for the octaves are more likely to agree with each other than an octave plus a fifth, and a third is even less likely to agree.

Octave displacement of the root will just thicken the sound, while the fifth will round it out a bit more.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
#33
Quote by Sleepy__Head
Not so fast, my fine foody friend.

A chord is any time more than one note sounds in unison.

I know, I know we tend to think of chords as triads, but still ...

If it's less than three, then it's a harmonic interval.
#36
to everyone who says a chord needs to be three or more notes:

you're absolutely right, carry on.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#37
Quote by chronowarp
If it's less than three, then it's a harmonic interval.


And also a chord.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
#39
Quote by Nameless742
They are musically the same with or without the octave. Play what you think sounds best in the current situation.

What he said.
Si
#40
Quote by chronowarp
Nah bro, a chord is three or more pitches.


Oh yeah?!!

My teacher says two.

And my teacher is bigger than your teacher and will whup his ass.
Quote by Hail
oh shut up with that /mu/ bullshit. fidget house shouldn't even be a genre, why in the world would it deserve its own subgenres you twat
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