Quora: How do I choose chords or scales to make people feel specific emotions ?

clef-799259_960_720There is no mathematic formula for this part of the art of composing music. But it’s also so subjective because different people feel different things. What are some songs that make you feel moved? Study those songs. Which chord changes in those songs felt the most powerful to you? It’s not a crime to write songs with those changes. Nobody has a copyright on any chord structure.

You are asking us to tell you which chord changes make you feel emotion, but we don’t know which changes do that for you. Only you do. Study good songwriting, but also study the songs that move you. Learn them inside and out. Which chord inversions are your favorite songs using? Moving from a Bm to a C might not be powerful to you if both are in root position. But if the Bm is in 2nd inversion and it moves to a C major in 1st inversion, you may feel a burst of emotion. There’s no telling what chords will move which people.

I’m glad you’re searching for an answer. Remember that any art is just a series of corrections. So if you are having a hard time finding the notes or chords, then you are getting closer to an answer, because each time you try something you are eliminating things that don’t work.

You have my best wishes in your journey – find what moves you.

Traveling West – day 17 and 18, the end game

She's too young for a mirror selfie, so I did it for her.
She’s too young for a mirror selfie, so I did it for her.

Day 17 (June 17) – Cheyenne, WY to Des Moines, IA (652 Miles). Finally out of the mountains and into the flatlands. As nervous as the mountains made me, I’d rather have the scenery and excitement than the boredom that hit me driving through Nebraska and Iowa. There was some amazingly safe driving going on in these states, but myself and others, but the boredom was incredible.

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Janelle, letting me sleep.
Janelle, letting me sleep.

Day 18 – Des Moines, IA to Erie, PA (765 Miles) HOME! It was a great trip and we saw some friends, and I’m no longer scared of another trip west, because I have been indoctrinated into mountain driving.

So there it is.

Our trip there:Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 1.15.21 PM

Our trip home:

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5504 miles plus just over 300 miles of driving around towns and such, 5800 mile journey total.

It is hard to drive home after an experience like that. Somewhere in Idaho, I started getting sad our trip was coming to a close. But it’s nice to get home.

Off to the Rodeo!!!

IMG_1497-ANIMATIONOn July 3rd (2015), my country music band played after the rodeo that took place Hickory Creek Wilderness Ranch & Campground in Tidioute, Pennsylvania. I haven’t played music at a Rodeo since the late 90’s, and back then I didn’t pay attention to things the way I do now.

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Chris_LeDoux_promo_photoThere is one story that stays with me from the 90’s, though, and it involves Chris LeDoux. Broncos, a bar in Alliance, OH hosted a rodeo every year. We had an in because we played Broncos bar several times a year.

So we were the opening act for LeDoux after the rodeo, and our bass player got word to us that his wife went into labor and he wouldn’t be coming (pre-cell phone days for all of us!). This was a huge show for us, and we were contemplating what to do. The bar was closed, and the crowd was outside, so the only people inside were my band (Coyote Joe) and Chris LeDoux and his crew. His bass player heard us talking, and came over and said he’d be glad to help us out. It was a pretty fun time, and I’ll always remember how cool it felt at that time of my life to be playing with this musician. When I was young I didn’t really pay attention to detail, so I never got his name. Sad.

Moving forward to the July 3rd rodeo:

I was able to learn a lot at this rodeo, much of it was interesting: (All of these names are made up for my benefit. I don’t think they rodeo clowns “clowns” anymore, but who has time to do accurate research?)

The Riders: The riders are crazy insane. They have to ride a bull for as long as they can. 8 seconds is the goal, and not too many of them made it. But even if they scored big, they were still going to get thrown. Nobody can ride a bucking bull. 

The Clowns:  The clowns are crazy insane. Their job is to make the bull chase after them after the rider falls, so the rider can get away, off the field. If your job is to make a bull chase you, you are crazy insane. Life is hard enough without getting a job like that. 

The Horseman: The man on the horse is crazy insane. If the clowns can’t get the bull, or the bull runs off in another direction, the horseman chases the bull and ropes him, and pulls him back to where he’s supposed to be. But on Friday night I saw this guy get in some pretty hairy situations being chased by a bull as well. 

The Timer: This guy is just a little bit crazy, because he stands on the field with a timer to time the riders – how long they stay on the bull. He’s not crazy insane – he’s close the fence, he can get away pretty quickly. But his job is still inside the ring with an angry bull. 

All jesting aside, this seems to be difficult job, and these guys were the hardest workers I’ve ever seen in my life. They had to constantly move, they were good at their jobs, and they fearlessly took on dangerous animals.

(My pics were all taken with an iPhone, at night, against bright lights – it was the only place I could see, or I would have looked for better shooting conditions.)

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Traveling west Day 16, aka “Smells like butter”

Day 16 (June 16th) – Boise, ID to Cheyenne, WY (736 Miles) – If I had to pick one day where we were all cranky, travel-weary, and frustrated, this (Day 16) would be the day I pick. IMG_1340

It was 98 degrees (F) for most of the drive. About every 20 minutes, we thought we smelled baby poop, and we kept pulling off the highway at rest areas and checking Amelia, and she was always clean. A couple of wet diapers, but no poop.  We’d get back in the car and be on our way, and we’d smell it again, strongly. We’d pull over, check her again, look through the car to see if we had left a dirty diaper in the car – all negative. We’d drive, we’d stop. It was a long process.

IMG_1324We stopped at a big rest area/motel “oasis” in Wyoming called Little America. This is where we found the source of the problem. But there are two things that you should know before I tell you what I’ve learned.

1. Our daughters poop smells like butter, or buttered popcorn, about half the time.

2. While we were in Victoria, we went grocery shopping for the week, and I bought butter. While packing up to continue our trip, I saw that we didn’t use all the butter so I put it in a Glad plastic container (poor man’s Tupperware?) and put it in a bag with the food.

You can probably guess that the butter melted and leaked out all over the food bag.


Don’t keep butter in the car on a very hot drive through Wyoming, especially if your baby’s poop smells like butter.


It’s pretty specific, but it’s good advice.

We booked the hotel in Cheyenne while we were a couple hours away. Our GPS told us to take the I25 exit to get to our hotel, and when we got to the exit Continue reading “Traveling west Day 16, aka “Smells like butter””

Traveling west – the digital humanities tour day 14 and 15

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 1.56.40 AMDay 14 – Boise, ID – This was another two nights of rest without driving at all. Anywhere. Just hanging out at a really nice house with a really awesome family. On day 14 we had a spectacular salmon and rice dinner with salmon caught by a friend in Alaska. There was so much that it was all-you-can-eat with no shame involved. I performed a few card tricks just for fun, and was then excluded from the card game that happened afterwards. I did not consider this a problem.

Day 15  – More of the same, but Mexican for dinner. I worked on a writing job both these nights. I had been conducting interviews for a book that needs to go to press by the end of the month.  Janelle was an invaluable help, because she saw that I was stressed out, and told me to relax a little, and she would transcribe the interviews while I was driving us the rest of the way home.

[All of the pictures I took involved this family – and the children. They do their best to keep pics of their kids off the internet, so, not many pictures here.]

I did get to work outside a little bit
I did get to work outside a little bit.

In the studio with Amelia!

Getting it ready
Getting it ready

Sometimes Amelia is not happy in her Pack ‘n Play. I usually just try to hold her in my lap for a little while, but when I’m busy in the studio, it’s difficult to do because when I’m working on the computer, she wants to play with the computer – and when I’m working on the keyboards, she wants to play the keyboards. I decided to set up a near-identical setup to mine – for her to play with. It worked!!! I set up a non-working computer on her tray, and a working (and active) Korg Microstation keyboard.

She played with this setup for an hour with no complaints. I spent the whole hour taking pictures of her instead of working.

Starting up Logic Pro
Starting up Logic Pro
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Playing and singing. Take 23.
Some serious editing going on here.
Some serious editing going on here.
Whew! This is hard work!
Whew! This is hard work!
Taking a break.
Taking a break.
Re-recording a few bad notes. Love the little keys on this Korg Microstation.
Re-recording a few bad notes. Love the little keys on this Korg Microstation.