Metal is a humongous genre, but just like any type of music, it does have its go to things. Aside from palm muting, syncopation, tremolo or ‘trill’ picking, and certain scales, even heavy metal has its fall back chords.
Today we are going to discuss some of the common chords in metal guitar.
Before we get into the meat of the lesson, you should take an honest look at your knowledge of musical theory.
While you don’t need to be a theory genius and know every aspect of the rules inside and out, it is important that you have some basic knowledge so that you can understand the chords being created. While there aren’t many fall back chords in metal, the ones there are require some basic knowledge.
First off, you should understand that every real chord consists of three things; a root, a third, and a fifth. To construct a real chord, all three parts must be accounted for, which means all real chords contain a triad. Although most of metal’s fall back chords aren’t technically real chords, it is best you understand the principals behind them just the same.
This will not only allow you to use them properly, but also allow you to alter them in an intelligent and meaningful matter. What sounds good to your ear may not sound god to your ear once it makes sense.
You need to learn to recognize the differences between augmented and diminished properties, as chords rely heavily upon proper usage when implemented. If you want dissonance, you must understand dissonance. Likewise, if you want pleasantness, you must understand pleasantness.
The Power Chords
The first and most heavily used common guitar chords in metal guitar are the power chords. These chords, believe it or not, are not actually chords, as they lack a third, consisting of only a root and a fifth. While this may seem crazy, they are simply a harmony; two notes ringing our in unison to create one single voice.
Let’s say we are playing a G. To create a power chord from our G, we would simply add a D. On our guitar, this would simply mean we put our forefinger on the third fret of our low E string and our ring finger on the fifth fret of our A string. This is a simplified power chord. To create a full power chord we would simply add the G octave by putting our pinky on the fifth fret of our D string.
The next most common metal guitar chord is the triad. Triads are the most common chords in all of music, yet metal guitarists tend to use them in arpeggiated styles. Using our simplified power chord notes G and D, we would simply need to add a B note to complete our triad.
This would mean we would need to move our chord positioning. Our ring finger would now take the third fret of our low E string as our root, G. Our middle finger would move to the second fret of our A string, creating the note B. Then we would simply play the D string as an open note. There is our basic G triad.
Now that you know the most common metal guitar chords, the next step is to use them to write your own music. Remember what goes into each chord, and have fun!