Chord Construction Part 1: The Power Chord - The Two Note Chord

 

In the Intervals Series we learned a basic term named: Triad.

If you remember the Triad was a group of three notes played together to make a "chord". The Triad is the most basic Chord Formula.

Basic Major and Minor chords are really Triads, but we commonly call them chords.

The Triad can actually be striped down to only two notes. In theory this does not necessarily make a "chord" anymore, and it definitely isn't a "Triad" anymore. Instead, this leaves us with just two Intervals, or two notes a certain distance from each other...which is an Interval, right?

One of the common uses of striping a chord down to just two notes is what we commonly call a "Power Chord".

Again, in Theory the "Power Chord' is not really a chord but only two intervals. In reality, or the way people think about these two Intervals, it's a chord. But, in Theory you need to have at least three notes to make a chord...Ok, enough of that, I think you get the picture...It's not a chord but it is.

Let's look at the Formula for a Power Chord in comparison to the Triad it might've come from.

Formulas:

Major Triad: R M3 5
Power Chord: R 5

Minor Triad: R b3 5
Power Chord: R 5


Can you see that a Power Chord is nothing more than the R and the 5 Interval? And, you should also notice that regardless whether you look at it from the Major or the Minor Triad, the Power Chord could be considered as being an "offspring" from either one. Hope that makes sense.

In chord charts a Power Chord is sometimes written like this: for a G Power Chord = G5, for an A Power Chord = A5, etc...

This is essentially telling us to play the Root and the 5...and nothing more.

Let's look at a few Power Chords you might be familiar with, or maybe you didn't realize were Power Chords (use the Interval Names listed above in relation to the Root of the chord):

C Power Chord:

--x--
--x--
--x--
--10- = R = C
--10- = 5 = G
--8-- = R = C

or like this:

--x--
--x--
--5-- = R = C
--5-- = 5 = G
--3-- = R = C
--x--

A Power Chord:

--x--
--x--
--x--
--x--
--7-- = 5 = E
--5-- = R = A

or like this:

--x--
--x--
--x--
--7-- = R = A
--7-- = 5 = E
--5-- = R = A

G Power Chord:

--3-- = R = G
--3-- = 5 = D
--0-- = R = G
--0-- = 5 = D
--x--
--3-- = R = G

or like this:

--x--
--x--
--x--
--5-- = R = C
--5-- = 5 = G
--3-- = R = C

Regardless of what chord combination we use in these chords, they only contain a R and a 5, and are considered Power Chords.