Advanced Rock Rhythms 1: Inverting Powerchords

    In this lesson we’ll be applying the principles of chord inversion to a rock situation. As you should know already, it’s unlikely that you’ll be playing open chords or anything much bigger than powerchords when using a heavily distorted guitar sound. This doesn’t mean that we have to forget about notes other than Roots and 5ths, it just means that we have to be a little more creative in their application.

    If you’re not familiar with the concept of a powerchord you’ll want to do something about that pretty quickly… Be warned, if you can’t remember what a powerchord is, you probably shouldn’t be here just yet.

Now, we know that powerchords are prevalent in pop, rock, blues and metal, but what happens when you flip those chords around? We’ll look at this idea in 2 different ways. First off, let’s take our basic power chord rhythm.
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Now were going to take the root note and stick it above the 5th. Because you’ll now be using your first and second fingers to play these notes, you should find it easier to apply a little vibrato to them as well. Remember, the notes you are using haven’t changed it’s just their order.

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These kind of inverted powerchord double-stop things can be pretty nifty in-between the regular powerchords to add a little variation, or they could be played by a lead guitar to add a bit more depth and character to what the rhythm guitar is doing. Try playing some of your own riffs using these double-stops instead of powerchords.

The last thing I’m going to leave you with in this lesson is a personal favourite of mine. It can have a pretty massive effect on the sound of a chord, but the theory behind it is nothing revolutionary, (and doesn’t get much more complex than what you’ve already learnt today). We’re only able to apply this to powerchords rooted on the A string, (or higher, but you’ll have to work those out for yourselves). We’ll go back to the first bar of today’s exercises but this time we’re adding an additional 5th below the root. The bar after that is what happens if you want to play an additional 8ve of the root note. They would be played like this:
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Have fun with those, I’m especially fond of them because they can make anything sound instantly really heavy, (in my opinion much heavier than down-tuning alone will allow).

Example Song #4: Power Chords & Palm Mutes

             This song is a demonstration of two very common techniques within rock, pop and blues music. Power Chords, as you should already know, are used in place of full Open or Barre chords, in genres where guitars are usually distorted. Palm muting allows you to control the tone and volume of your guitar. If you’re a bit shaky on either concept, you may want to go back and refresh your memory.
Palm mutes are usually indicated by dots under the notes, as you can see below every open E string note.

In the first three bars we have an alternating un-muted / muted pattern. We start off playing the E5 twice un-muted, followed by two muted open E notes, (these are all quaver notes by the way, and should all be played evenly). We then play two un-muted D5’s, followed by the open E string twice again.
We continue to alternate like this until the end of the third bar where we leave off the final pair of open E mutes.
In the fourth bar we hit a pair of C5’s followed by a pair of D5’s. These powerchords are of the larger variety, which include the octave and give it a bigger sound.
Remember the repeat markings at the end. In the video we repeat this once before ending on the E5.

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         Aim to build up to around 110bpm. In the video I start at 100bpm, but there’s no shame in starting at 90 or 80 instead if you need to.