Power Chord Coloring

Tells about how to give color, tension, or whatever you want to power chord and some basic chord generation theory.

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This article assume you are already familiar with moveable power chord and how to name them, and familiar about intervals. We will only discuss 2/3 strings chords. In my humble opinion, a 6 notes chord used with even slight distortion is completely destroyed and sounds very shitty... the name of the lesson is power chord coloration so I assume you want to use theses chord with distortion, so let's stick with 3 notes chord. First, let me remind you some little stuffs about power chord. e-- b-- g-- d-r+2 <- this is the octave, 12 semitones after the root a-r+2 <- this is the fifth, 7 semitones after the root E-r <- this is the root If you want to add color to a power chord, you just move either the fifth or the octave to give the wanted effects. Example: this turns E5 to Esus9, E5 Esus9 e------------ b------------ g-9-------11 d-9--------9 a-7--------7 E------------- The second chord is Esus9 because we moved the 8th to the 9th, and since there is no third and no 7th. Another effects, that need some finger stretching however, it's Em, but this one sounds much better than the traditionnal em with distortion. E5 Em e------------ b------------ g-9-------12 d-9--------9 a-7--------7 E------------- The second one is Em because we took the octave interval and stretched it so it become a minor 10th interval (note that the 10th is the same note as the minor 3rd but one octave higher). Another color, we'll turn E5 to EsusM7: E5 EsusM7 e------------ b------------ g-9--------8 d-9--------9 a-7--------7 E------------- Again, we took the octave and brang it a semitone lower so it become a M7 interval instead of an octave interval. Another thing you can do is move the fifth: E5 E6? without 3rd without 5fifth (not shure about the name) e------------ b------------ g----------- d-9--------11 a-7--------7 E------------- This give a nice bluesy effects. You can also transform your chord so it become like that: E5 E Em e-------------------- b-------------------- g-9---------4---4- d-9---------6---5- a-7---------7---7- E------------------- You can do whatever you want, thoses were a few examples, note that don't really need to name them juste move your fingers a few fret after of before, experiment with new sounds, you'll discover plenty of possible chord progression that will sounds good with heavy distortion.

58 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    SilentDeftone
    Some of your chord naming is a bit off. The first error is Esus9 - it should be Esus2. And EsusM7? IMO it should be E5(add7), or something to that effect. You cannot have a sus7 chord! Your E6 isn't really an E6 - in fact, it's not a chord at all. It's simply a perfect 6th interval. The idea of this lesson was decent, but parts of it were rather poorly executed.
    guitar2097
    Going back to the orginal points. There is no reason why more than 3 notes should be used when expressing a cord, and does usually sound fine. Three notes is easier to execute. Navara used up to 5 notes per cord, epecially when using 9ths. Also, a 2 notes is a harmoney, not a cord.
    kjlee2112
    I mean, you mean well, so you have to give credit for that, but alot of your opinionated stuff was all screwy. For example, you said that open chords with distortion sound shitty. But I mean, that's how Angus Young makes his sound. I dunno just a bit contradictory to me. You mean well though, even though power chords are very very easy to get a grasp of. Cheers!
    CryingNut
    We will only discuss 2/3 strings chords. In my humble opinion, a 6 notes chord used with even slight distortion is completely destroyed and sounds very shitty
    ... i agree yes quite true...
    HomeSlice1963
    its sus7 no its 7sus you guys are funny to listen to. its entertaining to listen to you guys argue, ha.
    ror
    its good but get the notes right to confusing otha w ise
    SilentDeftone
    SilentDeftone A suspended chord is one with its 3rd replaced.
    This is wrong information, I am correcting myself. Sus chords CAN have 3rds, they simply must be voiced a maj7th above the 4th in the initial triad. So if you voiced a chord from low to high as 1 4 5 1 3 1, that could be called a sus chord. The reason to do this is to avoid the b9 interval created by the 4th voiced above the 3rd, because the b9 interval is quite dissonant.
    joshua tienzo
    ur great dude! tnxs for the lesson.. i hope u can post more helpful lessons! it really help me..txs!
    knotilus
    That's what I like to see, guitarists using their music theory skills to debate. I need to figure out more of that damn shit. Well, late. ..-knot
    badmemory#4
    would somebody plz tell me why the *** it matters when sombody doesnt name the chord right? i mean i can see that it could get confusing when you dont have a diagram but he gave diagrams and i dont see the need for everyone argueing over what the corect music theory is.(even though it is entertaining)
    warlockmaster21
    (to whoever wrote the article) brang? what the hell? hahaha. thats a funny word. no wait, it isn't a word stuffs? lol. nice article though. it was of good use. ..shitty. haha funny. nice word.
    yan_kong
    Yeah! SilentDeftone is right!! Not bad as article but personally I don't like to use power chords. Firstly becoz the sound of power chords on acoustic guitar is bad. And playing power chords does not shows any great techniques in playing. Tuning a guitar in drop D will greatly help in playing power chords
    Daniel Quinn
    WTF are any of you guys talking about lol! I'm a noob and my pants are full listening to you, u seriously know what your talking about. Might be able to understand this and play guitar in about 40 years at this rate!
    Ead
    All this theory really isn't as hard as it looks, and it isn't much theory anyway. I learned pretty much all of this in a few days with ease. Start with the major scale, and simply understand how chords are made using it.
    acoustic-fish
    i kind of understood the article, but the comments completely lost me. wtf? i need to learn some theory.
    DroptheBomb
    IAMIRONMAN : go emo my ass emo shows no talent, Diceman42 is right, METAL FOREVER! i can say that no emo musician is as talented as most metal muscisians (ex. best emo guitarist < best metal guitarist) and emo is pussy music to get girls, well gene simmons started kiss to get laid so i guess KISS was pussy emo music to wasnt it? i hate emo music just a smuch as the next person, but not all emo guitarists suck, take escape the fate for example, i have heard sweeping in thier playing, which last time i checked was SHREDguitar territory was it not?
    DroptheBomb
    semus wrote: what's a power chord? ()
    y does he^ have a profile on ultimate guitar? lol.
    iforgot539
    the second and ninth are not quite interchangable dude. 2's and 9's may be the same note, but a 2 functions differently than a 9 in a lot of cases. "but its not a suspended, there is no 4th note in that chord" the 4th doesnt have to be in there for the chord to be suspended..... there are sus2's ya know.... 9 times outta ten, you'd find it sus2, not sus9. dont call out deffy on his theory. just visit the forum musician's talk and find out what i mean. he knows his shit.... you dont.
    i read in one or another of those albiet crappy guitar magazines that a sus2 chord should actually be called a 5add9. just putting it up for discussion
    dogsballs
    Thats great dood. i never knew you could change power chords like that soeasy.. good diagrams i wouldn ve understood without em; cheers!!
    psychodelia
    might have been better if you wrote it easier to understand... i can tell all the chord names, but to a new person it might be a bit confusing.
    FenderStrat1337
    wow this was hard to understand. It could have been much better if it was easier to read and shorter, since it is an easy topic.
    Diceman42
    Thank you for knowing what you are talking about. Lets help bring the guitar hero back into RnR! No more emo! No more Nu Metal! GOOD TIME HEAVY METAL FOREVER!
    MrLucky77713
    ^No more stupid narrow minded losers who can't tolerate music that differs from their own tastes! Go emo.
    deapcyfer
    yeah, and learning how to variate power chords is bringing back the guitar hero how? It's a good thing to have in your arsenal, but if you rely on all power chords then you're doomed, play riffs, have people forgot what a riff is? listen to velvet revolver, they have riffs and power chords both, you can easily tell the difference...same with audioslave...now say it all together now "RIFFS, I WANT TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY A NICE RIFF" or just learn lead or something, but for christ's sake, let's not let this emo simplified bullshit take over the world
    radioheadfreak
    Some of your chord naming is a bit off. The first error is Esus9 - it should be Esus2. And EsusM7? IMO it should be E5(add7), or something to that effect. You cannot have a sus7 chord! Your E6 isn't really an E6 - in fact, it's not a chord at all. It's simply a perfect 6th interval. The idea of this lesson was decent, but parts of it were rather poorly executed.
    ok ur an idiot( and so is he ) the 2nd and 9th terms are interchangeable, it doesn't matter what u use, but its not a suspended, there is no 4th note in that chord, and also what makes u think u can't have a 7thsus chord. its just a chord with the 4th note and flat7th note, its not that hard, learn some music theory dumbass. the other stuff u pointed out about him, u were somewhat close so i won't pick those apart
    Spydr
    yeah, and learning how to variate power chords is bringing back the guitar hero how? It's a good thing to have in your arsenal, but if you rely on all power chords then you're doomed, play riffs, have people forgot what a riff is? listen to velvet revolver, they have riffs and power chords both, you can easily tell the difference...same with audioslave...now say it all together now "RIFFS, I WANT TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY A NICE RIFF" or just learn lead or something, but for christ's sake, let's not let this emo simplified bullshit take over the world
    Damn Rights, power cords are fun but if thats all you can do you can't play the guitar.
    redwing_suck
    radioheadfreak: ok ur an idiot( and so is he ) the 2nd and 9th terms are interchangeable, it doesn't matter what u use, but its not a suspended, there is no 4th note in that chord, and also what makes u think u can't have a 7thsus chord. its just a chord with the 4th note and flat7th note, its not that hard, learn some music theory dumbass. the other stuff u pointed out about him, u were somewhat close so i won't pick those apart
    the second and ninth are not quite interchangable dude. 2's and 9's may be the same note, but a 2 functions differently than a 9 in a lot of cases. "but its not a suspended, there is no 4th note in that chord" the 4th doesnt have to be in there for the chord to be suspended..... there are sus2's ya know.... 9 times outta ten, you'd find it sus2, not sus9. dont call out deffy on his theory. just visit the forum musician's talk and find out what i mean. he knows his shit.... you dont.
    casualty01
    silent deftone: It's like Sound of Shade all over again?
    I was thinking more along the lines of scroungemonkey lol.. Cas-
    ONEppl1strgl
    i like those variations. nice sounds. just for noobs tho, powerchords arent all there is to guitar
    RedHotRevolver
    good thing whipping those newbies into shape. (im new at guitar, but ive played piano for 6 years). btw, if someone wants to hear some power chord colors like these, check out everlong by the foo fighters.