Talk:Power chord

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The first hit song built around power chords was The Kinks's "You Really Got Me" released in 1964 (Walser 1993, p.9):

"Rumble", Link Wray, 1957. Skyraider 20:07, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Interesting article in today's (12/20/2005) paper, "Fredericksburg Offered up Fertile Spot for Rock's Roots". Who would've thunk that humble little Fredericksburg, VA was the site were Link Wray originally came up with "Rumble" and the power chord! That article stated it was 1958 that he wrote and recorded the song. I'll fix it in the main article. Also to add - I added a link to that news article in the source, as it contains some very interesting information on the history of the Power Chord and Link Wray himself. If somebody else does not think it is appropriate, I will not shed any tears if it was taken back out. --SkiBumMSP 20:50, 20 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Listen to "Rumble", guys. There are some chords that are just root/fifth but there are also a lot of thirds (and sevenths). To me it sounds like he was fingering full, open chords and it just so happens that on some beats his pick only hit the root/fifth strings. So any power chords Ray might have invented while playing Rumble were purely by accident. He deserves credit for pushing the limits of volume, distortion, and overall raunchiness in rock guitar but when it comes to power chords, I just don't hear it. Meanwhile, the Boogie pattern, commonplace by 1958, was already just a power chord with just some variations. It was forced to be, because the fingers that would otherwise have been playing the other notes of the chord were busy doing the "woogie". All anybody had to do in order to "invent" power chords, was to quit playing the 6th note every other beat, and add some distortion. --Jeff robertson 16:01, 31 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Power chords are not suspended chords[edit]

This article contained an unsourced statement that claimed power chords are suspended chords. This is an incorrect statement. A suspended chord contains a second or a fourth and this note resolves to the third hence the "suspended" note resolves to the third. They usually don't resolve that way in folk music and a lot of contemporary note where they function as an individual chord. But this is the basis of the name. The power chord is r 5 8 nothing that resolves. I've took two years of music theory at Alabama and have played classical, jazz, rock so I know a little bit about this. Burnedfaceless (talk) 21:42, 6 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Thank you for an informative article. I'm curious if anyone knows the specific reason a power chord is called a power chord (that is, the reason for the power part, not the chord part). -- (00:23, 13 August 2005)

The latest re-write should answer your question adequately. (October 10 2005) --

Yes, you answered my question. Thanks. -- (15:59, 28 November 2005)


Who says that a bare fifth played without dist isn't a power chord? According to this definition, the first 7 seconds of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" aren't powerchords, despite the fact that they're identical to the rest of the song. Sounds strange to me... --Army1987 14:09, 28 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

But that's the point. They're not really identical. After 7 seconds those bare fifths are transformed into true power chords by adding power and distortion. The contrast is stunning as Nirvana clearly intended. Hearing those power chords directly after the 'musically identical' opening sequence of bare fifths is the perfect demonstration of what the 'power' in power chord means.
But those opening Nirvana chords could very well be classed as power chords too, if you feel that they convey enough sense of power to justify the name. It's all subjective - unlike the meaning of 'bare fifth' which, being a true musical term, is purely objective and has a strict definition.
The point is that all power chords are essentially bare fifths (or fourths) and are notated as such (e.g. C5, etc.) - but not all bare fifths (or fourths) deserve to be called power chords. (30 october 2005)
I'll have to change the bare fifth article, then. --Army1987 20:11, 30 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(However, by my own taste I would consider any bare fifth with octave doubling of the bass note "powerful" enough to be called this way...)
seconded. i, as a guitarist, never thought of a power chord as anything more than a fifth played on a guitar. if someone referred a to clean fifth as such, i can't think of some pedantic guitar purist (and i know a few) who would correct him. pete townshend, for example, used no distortion in his early career with the who, but used power chords, as per the article. anyway, "distortion" is highly subjective itself. is there an outside reference anyone can give me defining a power chord as such? Joeyramoney 21:01, 11 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think you'll find any definitive outside reference on this because the term 'power chord' is not a musical term, it's a cultural term. There is a link on the article's page that gives some good background on the 'birth' of the power chord in Friedericksburg in 1958.
Power chords date back to that time but guitarists have been playing bare fifths for hundreds of years. Were they playing power chords? Of course not. I can't imagine any review of a concert by the classical guitarist Julian Bream praising his deft use of power chords.
Apart from that link, I can maybe offer some further insights from personal experience. While I'm not old enough to remember the birth of bare fifths, I was around for the birth of power chords. And I can tell you that their arrival was greatly welcomed by thousands of electric guitarists. Suddenly we had a means of producing amazingly powerful sounds with nothing extra but an amp and bare fifths and fourths. They were certainly a badge of 'power' amongst we electric guitarists who were embracing the new technology of (reasonably priced) overdriven amplification. We felt that power chords belonged exclusively to us and we guarded the term jealously. No classical or folk guitarists would ever dare call their bare fifths, power chords. They'd have been laughed off the stage.
And you're right - nobody would be pedantic enough to say that a clean fifth wouldn't be a power chord in certain contexts. We often practised power chord sequences with the amp unplugged or on acoustics - and nobody would be stupid enough to maintain that our practice was invalid as the power chords without distortion were technically bare fifths. The question simply never arose.
As for Pete Townshend's early use of them, they may sound clean and undistorted to your modern ears - but at the time they were distorted enough to be called power chords. Yes - the perception of distortion is subjective. That's why 'power chord' is a cultural term, not a musical definition. Pete Townshend, incidentally, cites Link Wray and his discovery of power chords as a major influence on his career. (Tom > June 13th 2006)
i don't want to ruin this article, but i think that defining a power chord as being distorted per se is very original research-y, even by your own admission. i think that we should reword a few sentences to reflect what most people would define a "power chord" as- a very subjective term referring to fifths played on an electric guitar, preferrably with distortion, and reflect usage and playing style etc. hm, come to think of it, this is awfully sticky. i'm not sure what exectly this article should contain. well, i'll just keep out of this until i can get a better idea of what it should read. Joeyramoney 04:35, 28 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have found a reference that states that power chords are distorted per se - I also accept that a similar technique can be used without distortion, but I think the fact that 'open 5th + distortion = special' should be much more prominent. If no-one minds, I may reword with this reference in mind in the next few days.Happypoems (talk) 10:32, 24 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Done. please note that I did say that a power chord on the guitar is still commonly called a power chord, whether distorted or not.Happypoems (talk) 13:12, 27 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What about outside of metal and hard rock? Hyacinth (talk) 18:43, 28 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think of power chords as being just a hard rock thing... but I guess that the further away you move from rock, the less people talk about power chords. Also, in styles other than rock and rock-influenced pop, open 5th chords are not actually used so much... and again, in those styles where they are common (chinese music, european folk, C17th choral music) they're not really called power chords. Happypoems (talk) 22:34, 31 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Definition - Pitch classes or notes[edit]

I agree that describing a power chord as comprising 'two notes' sounds more 'reader friendly' than the previous edit of 'two pitch classes' but it could give the false impression that the chord can only have two notes at most. Strictly speaking, with octave doubling the chord can contain more than two notes (as the examples show) but it can't have more than two pitch classes. As a description, I would go with 'two notes' but as a definition 'two pitch classes' is more accurate and definite. (27 Nov 2005 Thailand)

Agree with who? The beauty of internal links is that if you don't know a term you can just read about it. Hyacinth 10:42, 27 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually it was a polite way of disagreeing with the person who changed 'pitch classes' to 'notes' while implying in his edit summary that the term sounded too 'Schoenbergian' for humble guitar chords. I only agreed insofar as the term 'notes' sounds more reader friendly than 'pitch classes'. But the terms are NOT synonymous and I believe 'pitch classes' (which had a link to the relevant article) was the correct term and shouldn't have been changed. (27 November 2005)


I'm not into guitars or the science of music but i was interested in what a power chord is. i found this article really confusing. it would be great if it could be written with simpler words and definitions. or maybe just an added segment with a brief definition for people who are new to this. 15:25, 2 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I second that. What would be even better is if a list of examples was included.

-- 10:55, 12 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Without relying on music theory or the science of amplification, it is very difficult to explain what a power chord is. To be overly simplistic, a power chord occurs when an electric guitarist plays two different notes at the same time and it sounds "good" despite being heavily distorted. It is much easier to give examples. Consider some popular rock songs that begin with electric guitar: Foreigner's "Hot Blooded", Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water", INXS' "Need You Tonight", and Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under The Bridge". "Hot Blooded" and "Smoke on the Water" begin with power chords. "Need You Tonight" and "Under The Bridge" do not. A power chord is formed by playing a note on one of the three lower-pitched strings of a guitar and at least one other note. The other note must be on the next higher pitched string at the same fret, or, more commonly, two frets higher. In addition, the electric guitar's signal must be overdriven, either by a preamp or by some sort of signal processor designed for this purpose. A distortion pedal would be an example of such a signal processor. Playing power chords is not very challenging, even for a beginning guitarist. The sound, however, seems to overflow with energy. There you have it. I'm not sure how this could be reworded to be encyclopedic, though. --Trweiss 06:47, 19 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Part of the problem may be the incorrect definition given. Are power chords euphonious (defined at Euphony as "flowing and aesthetically pleasing speech")? Hyacinth 11:02, 25 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I looked up 'euphony', and 'euphonious' at - which searches about 20 online dictionaries simultaneously, and those that I checked agree that 'euphony' and its adjective 'euphonic' mean as you quoted. 'Euphonious', however, has acquired a much wider usage, and it's most common meaning is "pleasing or agreeable sound". I'm still not sure I like it though, as it reminds me of brass bands rather than rock guitarists. Trweiss's phrase, on the other hand, is superb: "overflows with energy" - I wish we could fit that in somehow. (Mark 14-April-06)
As for "the signal must be overdriven", read the discussion above. I agree that I would not call a bare fifth in classical music a powerchord, but the chords I was playing last Tuesday when covering "Heroes" by David Bowie (I was playing the rhythm guitar part) were definitively power chords, even if I couldn't have any dist because we had not enough many amps and had to plug my jack directly into the mixer. IMO we better say something like "In rock music, a powerchord is [...]; they are usually played with some distortion or overdrive." --Army1987 20:06, 13 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I really think the signal does need to be clipped before you've got a power chord. It can be subtle, but it needs to be there. On an electric guitar, there are many opportunities to clip the signal: the pickup, the preamp, the amp, and anyplace else where gain staging occurs (as in signal processors, wireless units, pedals, mixers, etc.). A truly "clean" electric guitar is fairly rare. Regardless of the character of the clipping (overdrive, distortion, fuzz, ultra extreme death metal distortion or however the pedal manufacturers are marketing it now), it all comes down to a clipped signal. I was a bit amused at the example of "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Even the first few seconds of the song are not clean and I would certainly consider them power chords... because there's distortion there. Perhaps whoever said power chords are subjective had it right, but, for my part, I've never heard anything I would consider to be a "clean" power chord. And, while there's no doubt you could play a true power chord on a ukulele or a harpsichord (those instruments can be distorted, too) we don't normally consider bare fifths on these instruments to be power chords precisely because we aren't accustomed to hearing them with distortion. --Trweiss 01:48, 12 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If this song is played on MTV unplugged with acoustic guitars and no over driven signals, then would those chords still be powerchords? Or do technical matters trump musical intention? 19:04, 24 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jmckaskle (talkcontribs)


The tablature examples need to be formatted "so that they can comfortably be displayed on 800x600 monitors" as required of images (Wikipedia:Image_use_policy#Size). Hyacinth 11:12, 25 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Done. --Army1987 13:09, 25 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks. Hyacinth 13:39, 25 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yikes, wake up to the 21st century and get yourself a new monitor pal. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 19:23, 11 March 2007 (UTC).Reply[reply]


according to guitar tabs i've seen, "rumble" by link wray doesn't feature a single power chord- just major chords and a 7th or two. it's such a common conception, though, can anyone give me a link for this? Joeyramoney 04:37, 28 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't hear any true power chords in it either... --Msgohan 21:03, 8 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah, no power chords as far as I can tell. --LifeEnemy 03:32, 29 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
according to [1] and every other tab in the universe, it has none. i have no clue why this is in the article. 01:11, 12 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hey, I just agreed with ya'll further up the page, before I saw this discussion down here. I think a lot of people (possibly including Pete Townsend!) tend to use the phrase "power chord" to mean any guitar chord that is played with some amount of distortion and is very prominent in the song. This obviously clashes with the more common definition of root/fifth. --Jeff robertson 16:09, 31 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Power Chord History[edit]

the power chord history in this artical is inacurate, glaringly so.The power chord technique of omitting the third in a major or minor chord, was in use as early as the 1600's. In music theory of the Common Practice period this technique is refered to as an Empty fifth and as I said before has been used on piano at least since the 1700's. This also refers to the stament that the power chord has been a more recent addition to the technique of keyboard players.If anyone has time to fix this error please feel free. Other wise I will fix it when I get some time, thank you.--Anthraxrulz 06:17, 29 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, you've misunderstood. Of course bare fifths or 'empty fifths' have been around for centuries. In fact, even before the 16th century they were an essential component of the first attempts at harmonised part singing, known as organum.
But these were NOT power chords. If you read the article, you'll see that the term "Power Chord" is very much a twentieth century cultural term introduced by electric guitarists on their discovery that ancient 'empty fifths' + modern overdriven amplification produced a hitherto unheard of phenomenon, aptly described by the term 'power chord'.
As for keyboards, the article clearly states that the term 'power chord' has recently spilled over into keyboard usage. That's the term, not the technique. Of course, keyboard players have played bare fifths since the 17th century and earlier, but don't you think it would sound ridiculous to talk about the dainty opening power chord sequence of a Handel harpsichord minuet? The words "dainty" and "power chord" just don't belong in the same sentence. There are plenty of bare fifths in Handel's music - there are no power chords.
So please don't change anything unless it's to add new and accurate information. Mark (29 July 2006)

I haven't misunderstood anything I simply feel that it is worth noteing the fact that historically the power chord was created by, as you said applying the empty fifth(this is the correct term in music theory and not just some term I made up as you implied)and adding overdrive to it. I was in no way implying that simply playing an empty fifth on say a piano was the same as playing a power chord. But when you look at the basic structure of a power chord(root/fifth)it is an empty fifth regardless of how you alter the electronic signal with overdrive. Also I'm aware that the root/fifth sounded simultaneously as a vocal harmonization(it is widely considred the first harmonization) was used in chants of the medieval church. I also sugest that you read up on Counterpoint, Organum and Polyphonic contrapuntal part writing as these are important developments in not just music theory and music of the common practice period, but also any almost type of modern music in the western world. I sugest that you also look into not just the composers of the baroque period but the classical and romantic as well, as Handel was not the only composer to use the empty fifth cadence to powerful effect. As for the section of the artical on keyboards you are correct the artical does say the term power chords. My only point is that we need to include some historical imformation about the relationship between the empty fifth and the power chord,however in the artical about fifths this is explained very well and I feel now that to do the same in this artical would be redundent so if there were some kind of link between the two then I think that would actually be better.--Anthraxrulz 08:12, 31 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can I take it that you are no longer asking anyone to correct what you at first perceived as a 'glaring' error regarding the history of power chords? Now it seems that you are simply asking for a link to the 'fifth' article so that anyone can further research the harmonic structure of power chords. But that link is already there, at the top of the article - where it should be. That article (perfect fifth), also contains historical reference to the use of bare fifths, as well as a reference and a link to 'power chord' accurately and informatively supplied by user 'Army 1987'. And that's exactly where you would expect to find reference to the historical use of bare fifths. The power chord article should discuss the history of power chords. It is not the place to discuss the historical use of bare fifths - that's why a link was provided.
I'm not sure why you suggest I should read about counterpoint, organum, etc. Do you feel my knowledge in those areas is lacking? That's surprising, as it was I who brought to your attention that the practice of organum employed bare fifths long before the 17th century that you quoted.
As to why you feel I should study the works of composers other than from the baroque period, you seem to think I was suggesting that Handel was the only composer whose music contains bare fifths. I'm sure anyone else reading my previous comments will understand that Handel was chosen purely as a familiar example of any of a huge number of composers who have used bare fifths.
Finally - your contention that the term 'empty fifth' is more correct than 'bare fifth' or 'open fifth' in music theory is simply wrong. In fact, there's no single definitive term for this note combination. The term 'empty fifth' does exist and is valid, however the terms 'bare fifth' and 'open fifth' are generally preferred and certainly more commonly used. (A Google search on 'music theory "open fifth" will confirm it is the most popular term). That's why the 'fifth' article used the terms open fifth and bare fifth - with no mention of 'empty fifth'. - Mark 01 August 2006

I'm changing the article so that it more or less read "A power chord is how a bare fifth is called in rock music" or something like that. --Army1987 22:21, 31 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Those changes are pretty good Army - just a few adjustments needed such as saying that bare fifths can be found in classical music. That goes without saying - as they are found in ALL music. Also the ukulele isn't a good example of a 'classical instrument' - That instrument was chosen in the first place to show the absurdity of talking about power chords in the context of ukulele playing. All in all - good changes. Mark 01/Aug/06
In fact, "classical" was too broad a term for what I really meant, and it was changed to "European classical" which is even stricter. Saying "traditional and classical music" now can include music played on ukuleles without sounding strange. --Army1987 09:34, 1 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

First I would like to truly thank you for your mature behavior in this discussion of this artical and would also like to say I am very satisfide with the artical now. However I feel some clarifcation is in order, First I was only sugesting that to make any informed anlysis of music you must look at where it fits in the history of music, clearly you have a firm grasp on this concept. Second nothing new was brought to my attention regarding the history of chants and the use of bare or empty fifth in them, my reason for not including this was because it was a devise used in vocal harmonization and not was not widely used in instrumentation until around the 17th century. Third I see now why you choose Handle and in understanding that see it as a valid example. Fourth I understand that bare,open and empty fifth are all exepted terms, I simply misunderstood what you were saying and felt the need to validate the use of the term empty fifth as it is the term I have most commonly heard in my years of college level study of music. I also aplogize for any personal attack you may have felt and again thank you for your maturity.--Anthraxrulz 04:52, 1 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for that - and no apologies necessary. We've all got the same aim of constantly improving the quality of articles, and healthy debate and discussion are essential to achieving that. Keep up the good work. (Mark - 01 Aug 06)

"The avoidance of the consecutive-fifth texture by composers of music for aristocratic, religious, and middle class audiences was at least in part a matter of differentiating "serious" music from that of the peasantry and uneducated lower classes."

Dude, it's just a chord, not a life choice. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:32, 2 May 2007

The examples of power chords should extend to include almost all 12 bar blues, listen to 90% of Status quos or Chuck Berrys back catalogue for eg. The basic guitar rhythm is 1-5 (Eg E5) alternating with 1-6 (Eg E6), bottom 2 strings, sometimes with an octave root note (eg 1-5-1) bottom three strings. (talk) 07:11, 19 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is this a power chord?[edit]

As shapes like these considered power chords?


If so, they should probably be mentioned in their own right, since, in my experience, they are among the top three most used power chords for metal, along with the perfect fifth and the perfect fourth. I think one of the tabs in the article has this shape in it, also. --LifeEnemy 03:54, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I put it in the article. --LifeEnemy 03:22, 28 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To my opinion the are power chords. But it is the way how you play these chords on your guitar. If you swipe over the strings with one finger, then these chords are a strummed chords or plain chords. If you use the top of your index-finger, middle-finger and ring-finger and pull and release the 3 strings at the same time, then these chords are power chords. In that case, the chords are E5, D5, C5, G5 and C#5 or Db5 Bengud (talk) 16:50, 5 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]


It might be noted that ( on guitar ) if one plays forths on the b and e strings we get oriental sounds. I might ask for a rewrite of:

The consecutive fifths criticism The criticism sometimes levelled at the use of consecutive power chords is that that they violate an important rule of harmony. This rule prohibits the use of consecutive fifths or octaves in certain situations. It applies to the common practice period of classical music, in which chords, originally, were formed as the result of individual parts, such as voices, combining. Following the principle known as voice leading, the individual parts maintain their identities throughout, but if the interval of a fifth or octave is sounded consecutively between any two parts, their individuality may be momentarily lost. This was considered to result in a weakness of harmonic texture and was studiously avoided, especially in the earlier part of this period.

Power chords are not composed of independent parts that happen to coincide. The component parts depend on each other to produce the required sonority and the presence of consecutive octaves and fifths when the chords are heard in succession is seen merely as doubling - a technique often applied in classical music as a way of strengthening or 'colouring' parts that are not being contrasted against each other in harmony.

but I can't quite explain why right now. Perhaps it's like you are explaining two or more things at once,... trying to say too much at once.. a mouthful? and in the next paragraph

three frets higher than the bass note.

surely you mean two???? the first of three frets would not be higher, it would be the same fret... as D string 0th fret is D and G string 0th fret is G, D string first fret is D#, G string first fret is G#, D string Second fret is E and G string secnd is A.
or have I had one too many. Thanks for the article- Wblakesx 07:29, 30 September 2006 (UTC)wblakesxReply[reply]

aDDENDUM-tHE PHENOMEN "POWER CHORD' IS [OPPS CAPS LOCK;)] vis a vis mere fiths is easily understood but you have to take a step back into tonal theory. I got from Helmholtz, " On the Sensation of Tone", that when two ( or more) notes are played together there are at Least 4 combination tones ( it was awhile back, I don't remember if this included the origional two ) and difference tones. at a low volume they might be inaudible BUT AT HIGH VOLUME PALIN TO HEAR AND AS THE VOLUME RISES EVEN MORE TONES BECOME AUDIBLE. And if one perhaps bends one or both strings?

glad to be of help —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wblakesx (talkcontribs)

This comment is hard to follow. --LifeEnemy 18:54, 30 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, but this I understand what you mean here:
three frets higher than the bass note.
The article says that's for on the fourth or third string. That's becaue the B string isn't tuned five semitones (frets) higher than the G string, but only four, so you have to play 3 frets above the bass note to get the proper interval when playing both of those strings. --LifeEnemy 19:01, 30 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
no, we don't. and no one has any clue what the hell you mean by "oriental sounds". 01:12, 12 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Fourths can sound oriental, but not when played as power chords. If you feel the oriental sound of fourths is worth mentioning, it would be more appropriate to do so in the article perfect fourth. (Mark 30 September 2006)
I think Walser covers this: essentially, what happens when a bare fifth is amplified is that the difference in frequencies between the two tones of the power chord causes the *difference* between the two pitches to become more audible. If the frequency of the root note is 110 (the guitar's A string), the interval of the fifth is 1.5 times higher than that (165); the difference between those is 55 - which is half of the root tone; i.e., an octave lower. Basically, a power chord implies its own bass. At low volumes, and therefore without the added prominence of overtones, this phenomenon isn't as audible. 2fs 20:46, 11 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

File:Chords This is a bunch of crap. You can just say that you dont bother to use more than the base note and the sevens half note "academically the perfect fifth". Hey babe its Rock'n'roll. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:28, 13 July 2007

Well, it is not always 3 frets higher, sometimes it is two frets higher then the bass tone. See for details below in article "Simple ways to use power chords in practice", where I wrote examples and where you find chords with 2 and 3 frets differences between highest and lowest of the 3 tones. Bengud (talk) 16:37, 5 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Smoke on the Water[edit]

The tab for smoke on the water under the inverted power chords is wrong. Blackmore plays it, 0-3-5-0-3-6-5-0-3-5-3-0 (as an inverted power chord on strings G and D). I will go ahead and fix it. -Okashira — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:21, 9 October 2007

I think some chord names in the Smoke on the water tab are shifted to the left so they're not in top of the corresponding fingering. Is this OK or should it be modified? Wikispaghetti (talk) 11:44, 17 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Definition of Power Chord[edit]

Central to the idea of power chording is that a melody is played as a sequence of chords (as opposed to the chords being an accompaniment to a melody). The idea that an individual, isolated chord is a "power chord" due to its structure, intonation and/or distortion, seems completely incorrect to me. Does this definition come from one of the sources cited in the article? 04:17, 25 July 2007 (UTC)Steve P.Reply[reply]

tent the who==Parallelism and Voice-Leading==

"Given the fact that rock, blues and other music in which power chords are likely to occur tends to ally itself unabashedly with the music of such marginalized groups, the stylistic argument against consecutive fifths becomes irrelevant." I find this statement, defiant in the utmost to the prohibition of parallel 5ths, needless rebellious in nature, because the reality is that parallelism played a huge role in classical music from the late 18th century onward, and was incredibly important in defining jazz big band composition in the 30's and 40's. Beginning with the Impressionists, composers like Debussy, Satie and Ravel wrote pieces which essentially consisted nothing but parallel intervals, creating pieces based upon the sounds of parent scales (whole tone was a favorite) with no interest in interactivity of the voices. Big band writing in the 30's and 40's consisted nothing but parallel chords when writing soli, since the entire idea behind writing a soli was to eliminate any notion of independent voices, and create a harmony under a single, very defined melody. If one voice ascended, all of them did, same with descending. By the time rock came around, parallelism in "serious" music and all the popular styles was old hat, and perfectly acceptable. It would be ridiculous to analyze a power chord progression in terms of a dated stylistic practice which had absolutely no relavence to the current times. That would be critiquing a Bach chorale negatively because it didn't have any blue notes and didn't sound like a blues. Different era, different sounds, different norms. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Havic5 (talkcontribs) 01:39, 3 October 2007

I know it's probably silly to comment on a a 15-year-old comment, but this is a subject that's near and dear to my heart and I want to chime in for posterity: Yeah, but it's also ridiculous to compare those Muswell Hill kids (much as I love them) to anything from the classical world, even what was happening in classical at that time, and even if they both happen to have coincidentally converged on arrangements of notes that didn't conform to harmonic restrictions that had died 150 years earlier. Pick up a copy of Kostka & Payne's 'Tonal Harmony' and read how painstakingly and logically Debussy arrived at his harmonic choices. When he used antiparallel fifths and octaves it wasn't because he didn't know the "rules" of music theory or thought they weren't important. On the contrary, it was because he knew them better than anyone and pushed them further forward, into areas nobody else had figured out valid ways for them to go. He was a tricky dude. He also composed using the whole tone scale for much more complex reasons than just "hey, if I stack 6 tones on top of each other it will sound cool" (although I admit it's been long enough since I read K&P to recall the exact development.) Whereas when the rock guys did those same things, they weren't thinking about harmony, they were thinking "Hey, that sounds fucking cool." And they were right! But any similarity between power chords is incidental convergent evolution. They may be the same thing to some listeners, but they're definitely not the same thing to the composer. They don't come from the same place and they don't fulfill the same function. The unstructured noise of Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz is a different thing from the unstructured noise of '60s psych and '70s avant/prog rock band noise jams, too. It's all kind of like fish and dolphins. Seems like maybe the same thing, but actually not even distantly related. (Interesting to note, BTW, around the same time, George Martin was doing things like the tape effects in the Beatles's "Tomorrow Never Knows", which *was* in fact a knowing, direct reference to modern classical composition ideas, and the classical world noticed it at the time. I just don't think they took the same notice of "You Really Got Me".) SteubenGlass (talk) 00:17, 1 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Consecutive Fifths Criticism[edit]

This debate concerning whether parallel fifths is bad voice leading and shouldn't be used ought to be either cited or eliminated. In my experience (played rock guitar for years, studied classical guitar and music theory at a Universirty, etc...) no one has ever made this complaint to me, nor have I read of this debate in any book or articles. If this was based on an argument the author had with someone else once or twice, then this section should be removed from the article altogether. Jmckaskle (talk) 22:54, 17 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree and have removed the section. (Mark 17 December 2007) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:25, 17 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Pete Townsend's windmill motion[edit]

The article currently states: "Oddly, Townshend believed for many years that he had stolen his "windmill" technique from another artist."

Pete has said before he thought he 'nicked' it from Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards. He was backstage at a show and saw Keith doing the windmill motion. It turns out Keith was just doing the motion before a show to stretch out. --anon —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:37, 24 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Requested audio[edit]

I have added two audio examples to the article. Hyacinth (talk) 20:27, 27 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Would it be possible to add an ogg sample complete with amplifier distortion? I don't have a codec for the mid sample but am guessing it's undistorted, which sort of misses the point. Thanks. (talk) 04:48, 2 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, Wikipedia:Be bold. Hyacinth (talk) 18:38, 2 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
See Wikipedia:Media help (MIDI) for information regarding playing midi files, and thus confirming your guess. Hyacinth (talk) 18:45, 2 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Power chords are not just fifth chords[edit]

There are other power chords like minor 3rd power chords and perfect fourth power chords and so on. Just listen to Metallica. Basically the way I look at it is a power chord is a chord with only scale degrees with root-fifth power chords being the most common. I think the whole page needs to be rewritten. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:20, 10 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If we say "a power chord is a chord with only scale degrees", then how is that different to just a 'chord'? Incidentally, a fourth is indeed a common power chord, because it is an inversion of a fifth, and so the 'maths' of the overtones works out in a similar way.Happypoems (talk) 15:50, 23 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Somebody help me[edit]

I have a acoustic guitar,I am a begginer,I am trying to learn powerchords,however I feel its not correct to learn power chords with acoustic guitar,any suggessions? user:Aj. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ajay.k.king (talkcontribs) 14:04, 18 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikipedia:What wikipedia is not#Wikipedia is not a manual.2C guidebook.2C textbook.2C or scientific journal. Seems simple enough: relax and stick with your acoustic guitar or get an electric guitar. Hyacinth (talk) 04:34, 19 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
See: Pick up (music technology)#Piezoelectric pickups. Hyacinth (talk) 00:18, 20 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nothing saying you can't play power chords on an acoustic. They just happen to have a distinct effect when used with distortion. If anything, it could be seen as 'simple' to those who expect acoustics to be played with more finesse. — Nahum Reduta [talk|contribs] 04:13, 8 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I know that this is not the environment to help beginners in guitar playing. On the internet are a lot of websites especially for people like you. How I loved to show you around on the websites where I'm active, but this is really not the place for this and I won't advertise my websites here. Just look on the good spots and you'll find what you're looking for. Bengud (talk) 16:59, 5 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Parallel motion[edit]

Seems that use of power chords would imply parallel motion—a melodic line moving in sync with its fifth and octave. Does this appear anywhere notable? — Nahum Reduta [talk|contribs] 04:10, 8 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

When distortion is used, the fifth and the octave become (mathematically and audibly) less distinct from each other, so motions up and down may not be always considered to be 'parallel'. Of course most guitar playing with the common chord shapes ends up having a few parallel motions here and there, and in most music parallel fifths aren't considered 'wrong' (unlike in some classical styles where they are a no-no), so no-one makes a big deal about it^^Happypoems (talk) 16:00, 23 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Power chords are not chords![edit]

They don't consist of three different tones to be chords which is a requirement. Example : The most famous power chord is E-B-E - played 6 string free 5th and 4th strings on th second fret. What he get here are two separate tones but the root note (E) is played also on the next octave group. Three tones with different pitches but two of them with same value. So this is just interval of a fifth but not chord. A chord would be E-B-F with two fifths and three notes with different value. I fixed this misleading claim in the article so please don't change it.--Leonardo Da Vinci (talk) 15:21, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

According to this page a chord can have two notes. Deadlyops (talk) 22:12, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wikipedia can not cite itself. Hyacinth (talk) 03:18, 26 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is a whole Terminology section early on in the article addressing exactly this point.Happypoems (talk) 09:37, 5 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is an incorrect statement. A chord is defined as three or more notes played at once. A power chord is neither major nor minor because it lacks the third which defines the quality of the chord. However it is most certainly a chord.

On a side note most humans (lay listeners) hear a power chord as minor even though its not. But its a chord. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Burnedfaceless (talkcontribs) 21:34, 6 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yeah, a lot of talk what powerchords are not. But what are they? Don't try to put them in the range of chords, but see it completely different. You have strumming (slice with fingers or plectrum over the strings up or down or up and down), fingerpicking (have one chord and pull-release strings you like, till the next chord) and plugging (mostly solo and mostly with a plectrum). I see power chords as an extra in this range. It's just great to use different techniques of guitar playing and using power chords is a fantastic way to combine in a song. To me it is not important if I use electric guitars or acoustic, I play it anyway. Be aware that this is my opinion, not a fact Bengud (talk) 17:15, 5 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please do not comment on this topic without a citation or citation and quotation, or, at the very, very least, an actual suggestion. Empty criticisms and blank assertions are not verifiable or useful. This article doesn't care what you think, it cares what you can verify. You're not a dictionary, and neither is Wikipedia. Hyacinth (talk) 17:04, 28 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Amateurish, original research[edit]

There is something so amateurish and unencyclopedic about the following paragraph. Besides being uncited, it reads like original research written for a (poorly constructed) high school term paper. At the very least, it's lacking in technical rigor. The bolded phrases strike me as particularly problematic. Also, the superfluous commas impede comprehension.

Not having a firm foundation in music theory myself, I'm not sure how to make it more precise and rigorous from a musical standpoint, but surely there is someone who can rewrite this to make it more technically correct, using musical terms of art to clarify the points being made. If nothing else, some citations to clarify the points being made would be helpful. Nonstopdrivel (talk) 21:38, 17 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Most guitars are tuned based on equal temperament. This has some advantages, but the disadvantage is that some intervals are not all that good. Specifically, minor thirds are too narrow, and major thirds are too wide. This is noticeable in an acoustic instrument, but most people are used to it, and there is not much that can be done about it anyway, besides using an open tuning, and only one chord shape.

- The entire paragraph is not necessary, except to say that guitars are usually tuned in equal temperament. It is possible that it can be deleted, especially since the lack of a third in the power chord is not primarily due to the fact that it is out of tune in equal temperament. The 'power chord' has been used for centuries in ensembles which do not use equal temperament, or in those which would adjust the third scale degree to correct the inconsistency. Historically, it can be found whenever an instrument is playing in lower registers and needs to provide a clear and simple underpinning for more elaborate material in higher registers. No matter how in tune the third is, at this register it will be difficult to distinguish clearly from the tonic and the fifth. This would have been solved by placing the chord in a higher register or voicing the chord differently, but since electric guitars that use power chords frequently also use distortion, there is no register or voicing in which in the inclusion of a third sounds clear.

Perhaps the strongest reason for its use in guitar technique is already stated on the page: 1) 'Even when played without distortion, the simple ratios between the harmonics in the notes of a power chord can give a stark and powerful sound, owing to the resultant tone effect.' 2) 'Power chords also have the added advantage of being relatively easy to play, allowing fast chord changes and easy incorporation into melodies and riffs.'

It would take a bit of a rewrite, but I believe it would make the article more concise and factually accurate. (talk) 08:40, 25 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've squashed this a bit, removing the bits that seem less relevant. It may well be true that a just major 3rd through distortion sounds nice than 12TET major 3rd - but I'll let someone else do the maths / find the reference.Happypoems (talk) 17:41, 3 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

drop-d four to six note power chords[edit]

Could the open 'stacked' power chords of the last paragraph be named, as those above (D5 through C5)? (talk) 21:35, 12 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See: #Is there a term for two power chords stacked together?. Hyacinth (talk) 06:29, 6 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Chord symbols should use superscript “5” for consistency w/ other Wikipedia pages.[edit]

Check out the example of a chord symbol of a fifth chord given on . That page includes the sentence: “Most commonly, power chords (e.g., C–G–C) are expressed using a "5" (e.g., C5).” The “5” in the “C5” in that sentence is superscripted, consistent with the superscripting used in other chord symbols throughout Wikipedia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:646:C401:1210:1C28:D74:7AB5:F451 (talk) 18:20, 10 November 2018 (UTC) Yes, many sheet music for guitarists we see a lot of superscripting, like Am, A7, Amaj7 and Asus4. To my opinion these little work does not always improve the readability of what is written. Bengud (talk) 16:14, 5 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is there a term for two power chords stacked together?[edit]

For example notes C4, G4 and D5. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:58, 12 April 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I do not think so. There is not really any sort of name for that. Xdude gamer (talk) 17:56, 22 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, chords based on stacking fourths or fifths instead of thirds are referred to as quartal and quintal harmony, respectively. You'll see quartal harmony mentioned all the time in articles about Andy Summers from The Police. I don't know how rigorous these terms are, though, whether they're considered valid musicological terms by formalists and pedants, or are just made-up slang like "power chord". SteubenGlass (talk) 23:52, 30 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Very much so: quartal and quintal harmony. Hyacinth (talk) 06:22, 6 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Should Be Joined With Open Fifths Article[edit]

After all, they're the same thing. Orse, a line should be added at the start, along the lines of 'Power chords are what some guitarists call open fifths, because they like to speak like a ponce.' — Preceding unsigned comment added by SquidSix (talkcontribs) 15:45, July 16, 2021 (UTC)

There's a difference between a category and the implementation of items in that category. Hyacinth (talk) 06:20, 6 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Simple ways to use Power Chords in practice[edit]

The common way of guitar playing is strumming (usual on a non-amplified or acoustic guitar) or fingerpicking (plugging one string at the time, usual done with solo's). Using power chords means plugging 3 or more strings at the same time. Here you'll find some examples in standard guitar tuning (eADGBE):

A5 = x022xx or 577xxx

B5 = x244xx or 799xxx

C5 = x355xx or 8-10-10-x-x-x

D5 = xx023x or x577xx

E5 = xx245x or x799xx or 022xxx

F5 = xx356x or 133xxx

G5 = xx578x or 355xxx

Knowing this it is easy to make you own power chord. Like a plain G chord is 320003. A self made G5 chord could be 320xxx or xxx003. As long as the first and the last of the 3 digits has the tone (in this case the G tone). Even thought that rule (the first and last of 3 digits) is sometimes thrown in the bin, it gives you space to try whatever you like and whatever sounds good. All of my examples the first and third has the tone, exept one (G5 320xxx). This is the only one where the difference between third and first digit is not two or three, but minus 3. The tones of this power chord are G-B#-D. Bengud (talk) 16:05, 5 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Are you proposing a change to the article? Wikipedia is not a forum. OhNoitsJamie Talk 16:08, 5 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Definition of power chords[edit]

Definition of powerpoints (talk) 06:10, 8 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]