Power chords (or fifth’s as they are sometimes known) are a staple of rock and metal music as played by guitarists, but are not largely documented for ukulele’s. They go widely unnoticed in chord books and charts because ‘the man’ does not want you to rock out on your uke. Well, we got two fingers for him. If you a bit too much of a mummy’s boy, you should stop reading now. The rest of the article is for the hardcore only. 🙂
So, what is a power chord? They are 2 note chords consisting of a root note and a fifth interval. When these notes become amplified, the resonate against each other in a way that screams ROCK! This happens because the relative frequencies between the 2 notes are close to being 3:2 and as such, they drive each other along, creating more power. Obviously this works best if you add a touch of distortion which has the additional benefit of making the 2 resonating notes gain a further dynamic that sounds 1 octave lower.
On a uke, these power chords are very simple and can open up a whole new level of fun when you are playing. If you have ever seen the console game ‘Guitar Hero’, a handful of these uke chords can replace the coloured buttons on that dedicated controller for simple rock fun. The trick is to only play 2 out of the 4 strings. You can mute the other 2 strings however you like, or simply don’t play them. A little practice will help you find your way with this method.
You might want to try using power chords to replace other chords when you are playing just to see how it feels. Try replacing, say, an F with an F5 and listen to the difference it makes. There are 2 positions for each power chord. Typical rock music is empowered by the low version of the chord, but you can still use the higher version as an alternative chord.