Beginners: Have You Experienced The “Power” Of Power Chords?

In today’s lesson, we’re exposing you to the power of power chords.

A vast majority of piano players are yet to figure out why their chords and progressions don’t sound full.

According to Jonathan Powell“what the left hand plays determines the outcome of a given chord; whether it would have a thick or thin texture” and this is so true.

Using power chords on the left hand can enhance the texture of a chord and you’ll be learning step-by-step, how this is done.

Before we go further, let’s give a detailed explanation to the term power chord.

What Is A Power Chord?”

The power chord is actually NOT a chord theoretically speaking, because  it consists of two tones – the first and fifth tones of the major (or minor) scale – which is basically a perfect fifth interval).

It’s considered a chord because it’s derived by playing a triad without the third tone.

Keep in mind that a triad is made up of three notes: the root, the third, and the fifth. The C major triad:

…if played with the third tone (E):

…omitted, this produces a power chord:

…with just the first and fifth tones (C and G):

Likewise, if the third of the C minor triad:

…which is Eb:

…is omitted, we would have the root and the fifth of the chord:

…a power chord.

As you can see clearly, there is no difference between the power chord for a C major triad:

…and that of the C minor triad:

“Take Note…”

The quality of a triad (whether major or minor) is determined by the third tone. Omitting the third tone, produces a power chord, which can neither be classified as major nor minor in chord quality.

Due to the fact that the power chord is neither major nor minor, it can be applied in major and minor scale degrees.

For example, the C power chord:

…can be applied as chord 1 (a major chord):

…in the key of C major:

…or as chord 3 (a minor chord):

…in the key of Ab major:

The power chord is able to fit into both cases because there’s no third tone to determine the chord quality.

“Check Out The Power Chord In All Twelve Keys…”

C power chord:

Db power chord:

D power chord:

Eb power chord:

E power chord:

F power chord:

Gb power chord:

G power chord:

Ab power chord:

A power chord:

Bb power chord:

B power chord:

Application Of The Power Chord

 The power chord is a useful left hand device that pianists of various music styles have in common.

Power chords are played in the lower register of the piano to accompany right hand chords.

For example, we can enhance the texture of the C major seventh chord:

…by adding its power chord on the left hand:

Altogether, we’ll have the C major seventh chord:

…with a thicker texture.

Same thing goes for the C minor seventh chord:

You can make it sound fuller by adding its power chord:

…on the left hand to give the C minor seventh chord a thicker texture:

Enhancing The Power Chord

The texture of the power chord can be enhanced when the first tone is duplicated. This produces the power chord in octave position.

For example, the C power chord:

…can be played in octave position by the duplication of its first tone (which is C):

Consequently, we’ll have first-fifth-octave:

…the power chord in octave position.

“Check Out The Power Chord In Octave Position In All Twelve Keys…”

C power chord (in octave position):

Db power chord (in octave position):

D power chord (in octave position):

Eb power chord (in octave position):

E power chord (in octave position):

F power chord (in octave position):

Gb power chord (in octave position):

G power chord (in octave position):

Ab power chord (in octave position):

A power chord (in octave position):

Bb power chord (in octave position):

B power chord (in octave position):

Final Words

You can always make that chord sound fuller and powerful by adding the power chord in the lower register of the piano, especially if you’re still using single bass notes.

Don’t forget to move it with ease around all the keys and in no time you will become a master of it.

Thank you for reading!

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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.

Leave a Comment:

Youcan says May 8, 2020

It was good to me, “thanks”

daniel bohe says June 25, 2020

Wow am loving this

Miraclin says November 26, 2020

Sir, Thank you for this lesson. I had a doubt of playing this power chords in minor chords but now your lesson cleared my doubt (Sorry for my bad English)

Joseph says May 1, 2021

It was very use.. thanks a lot,
And my question is, some ones play majors in different ways and different finger position..

Can you explain about it?

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