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.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.02.06 PM

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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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.

 

Learning by DOING!

As I look back on all the ways that I have learned, all of the things that I now know, that I have learned it all by doing. When I wanted to paint, I just painted, When I wanted to learn how to play a song, I just listened to it, and attempted to eke it out on the piano or guitar. When I wanted to build something, I just started sawing and nailing.

My stuff is CRAP! Well, it started out crap. The stuff I liked to do, the stuff I stuck with, ended up getting more and more refined. And the more I learned how to do that stuff, I got better at other stuff, stuff I didn’t even know related. The more I learned about music, the better I got at painting. The more I learned about martial arts, the better I got at building, The more I learned about building, the better I got at music. Life is amazing.

—-THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPH WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE WORD “STUFF”—–

I had a friend who had a teacher that told him “There is one art, the Continue reading “Learning by DOING!”

Like a wagon wheel – in Luckenback, TX

We had a pretty musical vacation this year. We started by following the course of the song Wagon Wheel (which is currently the only song in iTunes on my phone) – passing through Johnson City and Cumberland Gap. We stopped in Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans before we landed on a beach in Corpus Christie, TX. On the way from the Gulf to Dallas, I specifically wanted to visit Luckenbach, mostly because of the song that I have known since childhood.

We had a drink at the bar, and heard some live music outside – which turned out to be a “guitar circle”, so anyone could play. Since nobody was playing except for the guys running it, we decided it would be really cool to play there. We stayed a couple hours and had a lot of fun, but I’m mostly excited about having that experience under my belt. I just wish they had a piano!

(not quite) Midnight in Montgomery

By Matthew Bennett IMG_6711

Growing up, I heard more Johnny Cash and Gaither Trio songs than Hank Williams songs, but Hank was a part of my music listening experience from an early age, and I often consider Hank’s life, amazing story, and tragic ending. Perhaps this is why I ended up a country musician even though I it is not my favorite type of music. I will say that it is definitely my favorite type of music to play live.

Neither Hank WIlliams nor The Oakwood Annex Cemetery were running through my mind at all as we drove Interstate 85 into Montgomery, Alabama on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Also absent were any thoughts of Civil Rights, the Civil War, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., segregation, the Confederacy, or any other aspects and events that are part of the eye-opening history of Montgomery. I knew about these events, and even where they took place, but there was a disconnect in my mind between the history and the actual place.

Fortunately, what was running through my mind was Alan Jackson’s song “Midnight in Montgomery”. I was singing the song, and I remembered what it was about. Alan Jackson, in his bus, the Silver Eagle, visiting Hank’s gravesite in Montgomery. I’m not commonly prone to the middle school reaction of OMG!, but that is the moment, on I85, that my mind made the connect. OMG – Hank Williams is buried here! We decided to go visit the site the next day, hopefully get some good pictures, and then figure out what else we could learn about Montgomery as a whole.

I learned how little I knew about what happened with Rosa Parks, and even watched a re-enactment in the Rosa Parks Museum. Now when I hear about the incident, I feel like I was there – understanding the event itself much better, as well as the events leading up to, and where history turned immediately after the incident. All of this was only a tiny portion of the things we did and saw walking the streets of this historic city.

I learned so much, all because of one little spark of history that came to me as a song running through my head. So for these random thoughts that come to me that change my life forever in surprising ways, I have to thank my parents for playing the music, Alan Jackson for writing about the MAN, and last but never least, Hank Williams, for writing the songs that made me want to visit you when I was close.

Another Bullseye

I’m now even more famous!

For those of you who don’t know, I am the spectator in the video. And I am not, as the reviewers claimed, dodging the dart. I am selecting the card, signing it, and getting the hell out of the way of the camera. 

Also, I am impressed that the reviewers mentioned the amazing soundtrack by Shane Ellis. That was awesome. Sadly for me, they didn’t mention my acoustic version that plays with the credits. 

I’m not bitter, dammit!

Kudos to Brent Braun for getting Bullseye reviewed, with an actual bonus quick review of Torched and Restored. No publicity is bad publicity. And kudos to Shane for the glowing review of his music. 

BullsEye Trailer with bonus history and credits

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmRU1OBJwiU