More Useful Metal Power-Chords

Yesterday, someone posted a bunch of atypical "power chords" for use in metal music. Unfortunately, they left out my three favorites!

7
I tend to find the regular root-fifth-root power chords to be pretty boring. While they sound good, we've all heard them a million times, and sometimes it's nice to change things up. Here are a few that I use a lot while writing music, and can really add some dissonance/interest to a piece: The "add9" power chord: 7 5 3 It sounds pretty spacious and dissonant when distorted (I personally think of the word "angular" when I hear one), and retains a remarkable amount of clarity. Add9 chords sound really pretty when played clean, too. ----------------------------------------------------- Another one I've been screwing around with lately is a "P4" power chord. You just drop the 5th down two frets, like: 5 3 3 It sounds a little strange, kind of hollow like an octave because it has no fifth to support it, but has more body than an octave. I use them sparingly, but they can really add some interest to a progression. ----------------------------------------------------- Lastly, it's incredibly fun when playing in Dropped-D, C, or Bb, to add another 5th on top of the power chord that can be made by barring the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings. Looks like this: 5 3 3 3 You can also drop that 5th on the 4th string down three or four frets to make what is pretty much the bottom end of a major or minor (respectively) regular barre chord. This can be useful if you're planning on doing things that are a little more colorful harmonically than straight-up power-chord progressions.
Maj      Min
2          1
3          3
3          3
3          3
----------------------------------------------------- There's one more thing that I've been trying to find a use for lately: minor seconds. While these aren't power chords, I thought I'd mention them because they're sound pretty cool and disgustingly dissonant. I'm pretty sure they're widely considered to be the most dissonant interval that exists, and if you fret the following notes on your guitar, you'll see why:
e|
B|   2
G|   5
D|
A|
E|
You might notice that the notes actually phase a little bit - that's because the wavelengths of the two tones are similar enough that they actually cancel each-other out at a minute intervals. I'm still not entirely sure how to use this one in any way other than disgusting-sounding accents, but if you'd like a strong example of their usage as such, listen to "Toxic Garbage Island" by Gojira. That band loves their minor seconds. ----------------------------------------------------- This article was a response to "Metal Chords" by Dragozan.

19 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    dragozan
    aaah, i remember you from my lesson article, you said you'd make this I have to say, this is a far more interesting article then mine, and you explain it a lot better than i do. well done sir, i tip my hat to you 5 stars
    Kear Bear
    add9 chords are alot easier in drop D (or any other drop tuning) or you could use them at higher frets which are alot easier. i also like root-minor7ths too, they add some color, especially when you change to the power chord inversion, which gives a lil melody between the 5th and min7th notes =]
    thePTOD
    bojack04 wrote: i've been playing for 4 years and know absolutely no theory would do you guys mean by 4th's , 5th's , 9th's etc?
    the 4th is named so because it is 4 notes up from the root. Say you're playing a C root, the 4th of that is F, because F is the 4th note in the C Major or minor scale. The 5th in C would be G, and the 9th is D. The 9th is also the second note in the scale, but it's up an octave, so it is called the 9th.
    Kear Bear
    on a song i also played a D# power chord on the G and B strings with the added open D, which sounds very dissonant. then i slide down to the D power chord to add that sweet release. sounds pretty bitchin; and one thing you gotta remember when playing with dissonance, you must have that consonant release after it and you'll get people to eargasm
    Kear Bear
    add9 chords are alot easier in drop D (or any other drop tuning) or you could use them at higher frets which are alot easier. i also like root-minor7ths too, they add some color, especially when you change to the power chord inversion, which gives a lil melody between the 5th and min7th notes =]
    felixius4
    Yeah what 'krypticguitar' said although his explanation wasn't too clear to me so I'll try and make it clear: D--5 A--3 E--3 The author has taken the G note on the E-string to be the 1st of the major scale (root note), therefore making the C note on the A-string the 4th and the D-string note the octave of the G note. But what this chord actually is, is a C5/G powerchord. You have to take the C note on the A-string as the 1st, this makes the note on the D-string the 5th (standard powerchord shape) but also the G note on the E-string the 5th as well, meaning you have TWO 5ths which gives it a really huge sound. [Work through your major scale and prove to yourself that the note on the string above the 1st is the 5th] I guess you could call it a P4 because it isn't 'wrong' but that's not the real reason why the chord sounds like it does.
    Dionysius8421
    The add9 is a bitch to fret, but it does sound awesome. Also, the actual "minor second" would be 0 4 (say, on the bottom two strings) It is the most dissonant, though.
    ProjectileQuiet
    I'm glad you guys approve - It's really encouraging to get positive feedback. I'll post a few of my riffs, and possibly elaborate on this lesson some time soon.
    rockgodman
    This is actually kind of an interesting article cause not all chords sound good with a bunch of gain but all of these will. I wish there were more chords though, but maybe do a second article?
    Dionysius8421
    EDIT: I didn't realize you did the G and B strings. That's an augmented second you have there, which is only ever so slightly less dissonant.
    ProjectileQuiet
    Dionysius, there's no such thing as an augmented second, if you'll take a minute to check your theory notes. I think you meant to say that what you posted is a major second, which is definitely pretty cool too. I love bending major seconds up into octaves - you get so much phase cancellation that way. And my hands are really big - they were incredibly unhelpful when learning to play (I can't actually fret the Amaj barre chord shape, because the first joint of my ring finger is simply too big to allow any note on the E string to sound) so I have absolutely no problem fretting the add9's, even if it begins on the first fret, which is incredibly useful.
    bojack04
    i've been playing for 4 years and know absolutely no theory would do you guys mean by 4th's , 5th's , 9th's etc?
    ProjectileQuiet
    Yeah, funny, my room-mate who's a bit more of a theory whiz than me mentioned those two same things - how it's a C5 instead of G4, and how I could also add another root. And yes, I use the 9th power chords frequently but with taste, and it really makes things sound interesting. Thanks for commenting.
    krypticguitar87
    Another one I've been screwing around with lately is a "P4" power chord. You just drop the 5th down two frets, like: It sounds a little strange, kind of hollow like an octave because it has no fifth to support it, but has more body than an octave. I use them sparingly, but they can really add some interest to a progression.
    Hey man i hate to be the corrector here but what we have here is not a "G4" power chord but a "C5". The only difference is there is only one root note and two fifths instead of the other way around. I understand the idea but when you take a "P5" chord and drop the five one whole step, you're just changing to another five chord. For example, a G5 consists of the notes G and D. When you drop the 5 to the 4 it changes the notes to G and C. If you look into the combinations of other power chords you will find that C5 is made up of C and G. Thus changing your G5 to a C5 with the bass of G. I do love to use these but i usually add the root note a second time which looks like this: e - B - G -5 D -5 A -3 E -3 instead you will notice that it sounds strikingly similar to a "C5" the onle thing is that it has more oomf. Other than that this is a pretty cool article, i never really thought of substituting the 5 for the nine, it sounds really cool.
    HellFury
    Very interesting! Could you maybe show a song you've written with these chords? Aways useful to see how other people perceive a good chord progression.