Adam R. Pope


Power Chords

I've been learning how to play guitar, finally, after attempting to learn and failing as a teen. You could say I'm living the dream, in my 30s. Being cheap and also stubborn, I've primarily been self-taught in my learning. For a few years, that has primarily meant that I know the cowboy chords and the minor pentatonic scale. Lately, I've branched out.

A few weeks ago, I started listening to a podcast that I highly recommend: Music Student 101. It has been a revelation for me, as I've been attempting to learn intervals and ear training, and this podcast very quickly connected the two with major and minor scales.

I've been fascinated with the major scale because my knowledge has been previously limited to the minor pentatonic. My playing has a bad habit of falling into that scale, and making me sound like a bad dad rock meme. So, I've been working a lot moving between the various positions of the major scale.

A few days ago, I happened to notice that the first and fifth position sounded quite good together. I then tried playing them together as a mini chord, and I suddenly realized I'd "discovered" power chords.

You see, most of my power chord playing (all of it, if we're honest) has been inverted 4th power chords. Something like playing the 5th fret on two adjacent strings. Basically, Smoke on the Water. I'd never learned the normal style of power chord. And so, thanks to the magic of self-directed learning, I ended up bumping into them while playing around with the major scale.

Now, you might wonder how I've played this long without learning these chords. Fair question. The answer is that most of the music I have learned and wanted to learn has been full chord music or single notes. Never really ventured into power chord territory besides chugging on EA with inverted 4th chords.

Fuzz is always the answer.