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Chord Type:

- 4

Name: 4

The Power of 4 - power chords

"Power Chords" are chords chords without thirds. As said in the relative minor lesson, the difference between major and minor is that major has a major third and minor has a minor third. When power chords have no thirds, it means that they are neither major nor minor. Strictly speaking, they are not really chords, only intervals.

Usually the power chords are labeled 5-chords. The 4-chords are inverted 5-chords. I have included inverted chords. As the 5chord really is an interval and not a chord, you should look at inverted intervals rather than inverted chords. I suggest that you go to The Perfect Fifth and The Perfect Fourth for this. The inverted 5-chords could also be called 4-chord if you choose the 5th of the 5-chord as root.

If we turn it upside-down, and have G – C, then the interval is a perfect fourth. The notes are the same, a C and a G, and it is not always easy to hear the difference.

The typical power chord is a three-note voicing. A C5 will be C-G-c (c one octave above). For these chord is it really true that "less is more". If you double more of the notes, the chord changes character. It looses power, and get more of the airy, open folk-music style sound – a sound that I like. I you change the chord, and play G-C-g, it is still only Gs and Cs, and you might say that it is the same chord. But I would think of this a some kind of a G-chord rather than a C-chord, and that is why I call it G4 and not C5. If we have a four-note voicing, with two Cs and two Gs, I cannot really say what to choose.

A warning about the label "4": I have made up the term. I am not saying that I have "invented" it – I hope that others are using it for the same type of chord. But I am not aware that it is a common term. If it is not well known, that is not a problem. But there is a risk that it is used in a very different meaning. So if you should come across the label G4, it might have another meaning.


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