#1
Hi im a intermidiate guitar player i know a bit of theory but this one question bugs me. Wen i use power chords do they need to even be in a key at all? Or do i adapt my knowlege to accomadate it. Ie say my key was G5 must i only use theory to determine other chords or can i play justvwat sounds good? I Have a progtession that starts on G#5 if you will would i use G as a key reference or just not even worry? Kinda confusing. Sorry if its a nooby question.
#2
Nothing needs to be in a key, but assuming you grew up with western music the chances are playing "what sounds good" to you will result in something that's in a key anyway. What key that's in doesn't depend on the first chord but on the chord to which things resolve, which is often, but not always, the last one. It's probably a good idea to try to know what key you're working with or things can get quite aimless and boring quite fast.
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#3
I play slide and lap steel, and make a lot of use of power chords in passing to imply sounds that are difficult to achieve in an open tuning. These power chords aren't always in the same key as the melody, but they still have to sound right, and it is very context specific. - A particular chord might sound OK in a particular sequence, but not in another, and I never hang onto them for more than one or two notes.
#4
Thanks for the replys guys, what i mean is lets say my progression starts on g# if it resoves on g# then i assume its key of g#? But wen i learnt theory it says g# isnt even a proper key and i know any power chords are not minor nor major so i dont really get power chords as progressions
#5
jagstanguser
If it resolves to G#, then yes, it's in G#. Whether that's major or minor depends entirely on what other chords you play.

G# major "doesn't exist" as a key, because expressing it as a key signature requires a double sharp, since otherwise a note would occur twice which is generally avoided in conventional theory. It is generally preferred to express it, therefore, as Ab major, which as far as guitar and other equal temperament instruments are concerned is the same thing. Ab major has four flats instead of six sharps and a double sharp, which is a mess.
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#6
So for example lets say im in normal key of g i know what chords i can use ect and i know relative minor ect so i can determine wat scale or solo to use. With power chords i cant make the theory apply so my re phrased question is do i apply theory to power chords? And doez it even matter wen using them? Look at nirvana for example i cant disringuish wat from what.
#9
Quote by jagstanguser
So for example lets say im in normal key of g i know what chords i can use ect and i know relative minor ect so i can determine wat scale or solo to use. With power chords i cant make the theory apply so my re phrased question is do i apply theory to power chords? And doez it even matter wen using them? Look at nirvana for example i cant disringuish wat from what.
Theory does apply to power chords, you just get less information from them individually since they're not identified as major or minor. The does also mean you can have simple progressions that aren't definitively major or minor, but most progressions will imply one or the other. As far as rock is concerned, because the roots of it are in blues music there are tendencies that are counter-intuitive in the context of basic conventional theory, which doesn't mean that theory doesn't apply, it just means that some of the conventions used for very basic composition are no longer relevant. In the context of rock music, nine times out of ten you figure out what chord you resolve to and then play the minor pentatonic scale of that, or sometimes the natural minor or minor blues depending on whether the additional notes clash with the chords involved.

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K33nbl4d3 right so basicly just use g instead?

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K33nbl4d3 and btw i understand enharmonics thats not wat im asking
I'm not really sure what you are asking, to be honest
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#10
K33nbl4d3 lol thanks for your patience. Ok so you pretty much cleared up what i wanted to know rbh which was my re phrased question. Basicly ill be using basic theory but apply it over power cords....reason i ask is iv seen some rock songs that blatantly arnt even in a key ans the progression makes no musical theory sense at all i guess im jyst asking what are the general "rules" in relation to power chords and like some grunge stuff literally makes no sense so yh im confused lol.
#12
Scales, they've got tonics

Chords, they've got roots

Progressions, they've got keys

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#14
There are no rules. A power chord can function as either a major or a minor chord (or it doesn't necessarily even have a harmonic function - but most of the time you are just replacing a major or a minor chord). So for example if your progression is C5-F5-G5, it's most likely C major - F major - G major, but it could also be all minor chords or some minor chords and some major chords.

Here are all of the possibilities:

C-F-G
C-F-Gm
C-Fm-G
C-Fm-Gm
Cm-F-G
Cm-F-Gm
Cm-Fm-G
Cm-Fm-Gm

Some of them are way more common than others but all of them would be possible in theory.

How to determine the quality of the power chords? Look at the melody/what the other instruments are playing at the time. Also, look at other chords in the progression. C5-A5-F5-G5 is going to sound like C major. Why? Because C sounds like home, so that's the key of the progression. All of the other chords could be either in C major or C minor but the A5 chord has A and E in it which suggests C major (especially the E which is the major third in the key of C and defines the major sound). So if nothing strange happens in the melody or in other parts, it is going to sound like C-Am-F-G. On the other hand, if we use an Ab5 instead of the A5, it is going to sound like C minor (because Ab5 has Ab and Eb in it, and especially the Eb is going to give it a C minor sound because it is the minor third in the key of C), and you would most likely hear the progression as Cm-Ab-Fm-G. (And yes, that's supposed to be G major, not G minor, because our tonal ears expect to hear the V chord as a major chord both in major and minor keys. It has a clear dominant function, and unless the melody suggests something else, we are more likely going to hear it as G major than as G minor.)

reason i ask is iv seen some rock songs that blatantly arnt even in a key ans the progression makes no musical theory sense at all

The vast majority of rock songs are in a key. A lot of songs use chords outside of one scale, but that's common in all music and that doesn't mean that they are not in a key or that they make no theoretical sense (otherwise the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. wouldn't have been in a key or made any theoretical sense). It just means that you don't know enough theory. Remember that music theory is not the "rule book" of music. Actually, music was there first and only after that people started trying to figure out what's happening in music and coming up with explanations for different sounds. That's really what music theory is - the whole point of it is to find common patterns in music and give names to them. Music theory changes as people come up with new sounds. Nothing is "against music theory" and anything can be theorized about. But most likely something that doesn't make theoretical sense to you isn't really a new concept. You just don't know enough theory to understand what's happening.

Non-diatonic chords (chords that use notes outside of the key signature) are a thing and they are actually quite common. And there most definitely is a theoretical explanation for them. You mentioned grunge music, and I would say a big part of the "grunge sound" is heavy usage of non-diatonic chords. But again, that doesn't mean they don't make any theoretical sense. Staying in one scale is not a rule, and a lot of songs use notes outside of one scale.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Apr 11, 2017,