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Is a power chord major or minor?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Lowend4s, Dec 17, 2003.


  1. Lowend4s

    Lowend4s

    Jan 2, 2001
    Which one is it?
     
  2. Is none of 'em.. mainly a power chord is made of root and 5th and can have an 8th also.. but is not defined as a major or minor chord.. Even if the harmony dictates that in a certain time a chord is minor or major or whatever, the power chord is not supposed to have a 3rd or whatever to define the chord as either m or M.

    But personally, I call minors and majors power chords when they are played with intensity and with a steadiness.. don't know if I'm making myself clear..
     
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Absolutely right. A power chord is a type of chord. Because it doesnt contain a 3rd or 7th it has neither major nor minor tonality.

    I think this is slightly confusing. It's not that it "is not supposed to contain a 3rd", it is a type of chord that does not contain a 3rd.

    I think this might be a misleading way to think of it.
    A power chord is a type of chiord, not a chord played certain way. A major chord can never be a power chord.

    Lowend4s, regarding tonality - try playing a major scale over a power chord - it sounds cack right?! Now try playing a minor scale (dorian or pentatonic minor) over a power chord, it sounds ROCK!!!! So while a power chord isnt strictly minor or major, minor scales work much better with them.
     
  4. Max.Power

    Max.Power

    Oct 14, 2003
    Disagreed. I'd rather say "chords with tension" ; suses and altered chords could be dramaticly strong, just the wide range octaves (5'ths are present anyway, beeing played or not) have all the power.
     
  5. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I agree with Howard. A power chord is a chord composed of root and 5th, it has no third. Regardless of how 'powerfully' you a play a chord, if it has a third, it ain't a power chord. Not in this sense.
     
  6. Lovebown

    Lovebown

    Jan 6, 2001
    Sweden
    On the other hand, a "power chord" is not really a chord at all by itself, but rather a double stop.

    /lovebown
     
  7. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Argh, don't start that debate up again! :D

    Can two notes constitute a chord? Who knows, no-one seems to agree. Anyhow, one thing I will say, IMHO, to call it a double stop is a bit of a nonsense from a theory perspective. If I play a power chord on the piano, it's not a double stop.

    The term double stop specifically applies to stringed instruments like those of the guitar family and the orchestral strings, and refers to a technique, really, doesn't it? It doesn't say anything about whether what you're playing is a chord or not.

    I don't really see how 'chord' and 'double stop' can be mutually exclusive - one is a musical construct, the other is a technique.
     
  8. Lovebown

    Lovebown

    Jan 6, 2001
    Sweden
    Well, a power chord is two notes played in harmony, but not a chord.

    Thus to me, a "power chord" is more properly reffered to as an intervallic structure rather than a chord, which it is not.

    Since the whole concept of chords as we know it in Western musical harmony is based on major/minor tonality a "power chord" that implies only a root and 5th, cannot be called a true chord.

    So perhaps, instead to call it a double stop (which is what it is if played on any string instrument), we can call it an intervallic structure or two-note harmony or whatever... but not a chord! ;)

    /lovebown
     
  9. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Whether two notes constitutes a chord or not is a debated topic, and it's been debated here many times.
     
  10. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks!

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    Must we endure this again?

    I agree that the term "power chord" is a misnomer, but isn't it really a guitarist's mistake? :D


    Chris A.:rolleyes: :bassist:
     
  11. Lovebown

    Lovebown

    Jan 6, 2001
    Sweden
    Power chords are actually more like an enhanced bass (read melodic) line rather than harmony, to my ears.

    And to say that two-note harmony qualifies as chordal harmony is to me invalid. The only reason it works is because our (western) ears are used to certain diatonic resolutions. And taken out of context, two notes are very harmonically ambigious.

    Anyway, we don't have to take this discussion again if it has already has been beaten to death here.

    /lovebown
     
  12. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I believe the term that came up in the last discussion was "dyad." (As opposed to "triad.")And maybe things can rest there for now.
     
  13. sunburstbasser

    sunburstbasser

    Oct 18, 2003
    On guitar, some players use power chords that have the root and 5th, and sometimes a 6th or added 9th. Would these still constitute power chords if applied to other instruments?
     
  14. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I wouldn't call them power chords on guitar, or any other instrument, really. To me a power chord is just root and 5th.
     
  15. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Good point. Also, when I play a 1,5,8 power chord on my bass I find it necessary to stop three strings. Why would I refer to that as a double stop?

    I think this debate usually ends with the majority agreeing on dyad - although I must say; I like the term "intervallic structure"
     
  16. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    Look, if Blink 182 can make the greatest sounding music I've ever heard out of them, who cares what is?
     
  17. Lovebown

    Lovebown

    Jan 6, 2001
    Sweden
    You wouldn't refer to it as a doublestop , but a triplestop...

    /lovebown
     
  18. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    I'd go as far as to say a power chord is specifically on electric guitar.. and tha you must have long, lank, dyed hair to play one.

    I hope to God that's sarcasm. Everyone knows that Black Sabbath made the best ever use of power chords.
     
  19. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    IMO, a power chord (consisting of roots and fifths only - no matter what instrument its played on) is harmonically ambigous. Add more notes that start to define it and it's not a power chord any more.

    However, it can imply either major or minor tonality depending on the context it's used in. For example, if I picked up a guitar and played power chords built on the following root notes - G, D, E and C, it might well be reasonable to think about the progression as G, D, Em and C. If, as bassist, you choose to play G F# E C against, that's a further clue (F# being the MAJOR 3rd of D).

    The point is that the instrument playing the power chords isn't supplying enough information for you to say very much about whether you should approach it as major or minor. You have to listen to what the other instruments are playing and the context of what comes before and after. Above all, you have to listen for what would sound right to play on the bass - sometimes that will be playing the root note of each power chord and sometimes the ambiguity gives you the room to play a harmonically defining role.

    Wulf
     
  20. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    While that's absolutley correct in theory, I find that power chords - being played on distorted electric guitar 99.999% of the time - just sound cack when the bass plays major tonality. Whereas minor just works a treat.

    It might also be true to say that a power chord is specifially on the lower two strings of the guitar? I mean you wouldnt call it a power chord if played on the B and high E, or would you? :meh: