Fate Line Friday for October 24th
FATE LINE FRIDAY.
Here is our good Dr John’s second installation:
A few of you may be aware that I am a Who fanatic and have spent many years honing various Pete Townshend guitar techniques. Although his acoustic guitar playing is fantastic, he is probably best known for his slashing power chords on radio staples like Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again.
A standard chord involves playing the first, third and fifth notes in a given scale (with additional notes added for more complex chords). These kinds of chords sound great on acoustic guitars and non-distorted electric guitars. However when played through distortion, these chords usually sound very messy. The reason for this is that when two notes are played with distortion, a whole host of additional notes are generated. By limiting the notes in the chord to just the first and fifth, you also limit the number of extra notes generated and thus the chord sounds cleaner and more “power”ful. (You can sneak in a third note without making it too messy, but only if it is up high.)
In a Hand or a Face is far from my favourite Who song. But it does prominently feature power chords at the beginning, including the technique of cutting them off suddenly to make them more percussive.
Pure and Easy is a much better song, but the power chords only really come in at the end, starting at 4:03. Also at 4:07, you’ll hear Pete hit the power chord by hitting the strings open (no chord) initially and then hammering on the chord a split second later. This sounds like striking the strings twice but he is only doing it once at the start with the left hand hitting the strings completing what sounds like the second strike.
I use all of the above power chord techniques in Audience – the quick cutoffs, hitting the open strings and then hammering on the chord. I also do a lot of power chords in 17 Years, both in the refrain and particularly in the bridge.
I’ll admit it is very tempting to windmill these power chords in performance, but I am not sure such stage histrionics would fit the Shiners vibe.