What’s the Deal with Power Chords? If you have ever heard any rock music, punk, heavy metal or any other form of music that features over driven, distorted guitar sounds, then you have definitely heard power chords in action, they have been the backbone of rock music for the last 50 years.

Interestingly enough, in musical terms, the power chord is not actually a chord, as the chord shape only consist of a dyad (pair of notes) instead of a triad (three notes). A power chord is made up of the root note and its 5th. Quite often these two notes will be fingered several times in one chord shape, although the simplest form of power chord can be played on two strings.

In recent years the term power chord has been adopted by other types of musician to indicate any chord which contains only two notes, repeated within the chord shape, although primarily the name power chord pertains to simple, distorted chords played by rock musicians.

So why are power chords so attractive?

Why do people (myself included) love to crank up their amplifier and bash out a thundering rhythm using nothing but guitar power chords? I think the answer to this has to be that they are simple to play, and leave the guitar player free to express rhythmic ideas through additional techniques such as left hand dampening, right hand dampening and effects units.

In modern guitar tablature, you will often see a chord named as a 5 chord, whenever you see something like G5 in a piece of tab, don’t be scared, this is just the way a power chord has come to be interpreted as a notation formula, it represents the fact that the chord is constructed from the root G and it’s 5th.

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