Book Review: Power Chords

A New School of American Music Workshop: POWER CHORDS (Booklet Only)

This little booklet is power packed an organized by the following chapters:

A. Where Chords Come From
B. Variations on the three Chord Types
      1. Major Chord Variations
      2. Minor Chord Variations
      3. Seventh Chord Variations
C. Voicing
D. Special Cases
     Slash Chords
     Augmented and Diminished Chords
E. Inversions
F. Jazz Voicings

So, in the beginning the three basic chord types are discussed.

Major = 1 3 5 (C E G)
Minor = 1 b3 5 ( C Eb G)
Seventh = 1 3 5 b7 (C E G Bb)

The most common variations on the three chord types:

Cmaj7 = C E G B
C6 = C E G A
Cmaj9 = C E G B D
C6/9 = C E G A D

All chords contain 1 3 5, the basic major chord and five note chords can be
handled by spreading the notes between both hands. Usually the left hand gets
the root (1) with an optional addition of the 5 or the 7. You can eliminate non-
essential notes in the chord (usually 5, perhaps 1).

The most common variations on the minor chord:

Cm7 = C Eb G Bb

Cm9 = C Eb G Bb D

Cm6 = C Eb G A

Cm maj7 = C Eb G B

All the above chords contain 1 b3 5, the basic minor chord.

The latter two examples (Cm6 and Cm maj7) would work best in songs in minor
keys where the chord is tonic. In other words Cm6 works best as a substitution for the Cm chord in the key of C minor. The minor major seventh could be used in the same situation. However, it is very dissonant and should be used with care.

The most common variations on the seventh chord:

C9 = C E G Bb D

Caug7 = C E G# Bb

C7-9 = C E G Bb Db

C7+9 = C E G Bb D#

Csus4 (7) = C F G Bb

C11 = C E G Bb D F

All these chords are possible substitutions for the plain sounding seventh chord, although not every alternative works in all situations. Experiment with this. Note that all the chords in this group contain the flat seven (b). An understanding of these C7 chord types will lead to mastery of the corresponding chords in other keys. Figure them out, write them down, practice them and memorize them.

Exercises on C Am Dm G7

This simple four-chord progression contains major, minor, and seventh chords. It makes a wonderful basis for an exercise with the chord substitutions. Practice using all the substitutions we have learned in this pattern until your hands are familiar with the chords and your ears are familiar with how they sound.

C = C E G

Am = A C E

Dm = D F A

G7 = G B D F

For more information on chords study, visit Chords 101 & 102

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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