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March 2, 2011
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Some musings for tonight...

Music is something that a lot of people including myself enjoy listening to while they work. And for some, it's fun to play and compose new works--no doubt it's an artform! Nevertheless, being a former trombonist and now a drummer, I can attest that jazz is one of the toughest music genres to master. Appreciating it isn't too difficult unless you ventures into realms a là free jazz and the avant-garde movements of the 1950s, but playing it well is something else entirely. Whether it's slow vocal waltzes or Mach-3-velocity bop, a dose of funk or on-the-feet swing, the phrasing and structure of jazz is often extremely technical. For starters, the 4/4 time signature is sometimes discarded in favor of 3/4, 2/4, 7/8, 12/8, or some other combination of fraction that composers and conductors love to mix between songs and even individual measures. Mastery of key signature changes and phrasing, playing within standard chords and out, and providing an unpredictable--yet often structured appeal underneath--separates jazz (and orchestral :p) players from a lot of what we hear on the radio nowadays.

To me, one aspect that stands out the most in jazz is the improvisation. Instrumental and vocal solos are commonplace for other types of music like progressive rock, metal, pop, and country, but not many place emphasis on off-the-cuff playing. And this is what draws my connection and love between jazz and mechanical design. Because what makes good mecha what it is, is just like what makes good jazz what it is. Though the following list is nowhere near complete, here are a few connections I've felt:

1. They require a solid technical and foundational understanding within that genre. "Chops" are not only defined by the parts of your body that plays the instrument, but also the knowledge of the theories and techniques that go into using the tools and media available. Playing in tune and in rhythm, listening to one another, reading and memorizing sheet music (if required), and proper posture, just to name a few. And in mechanical design, knowing the styles, the components required, perspective, line/color/lighting theory, layout and composition methods, and anatomy all help form a solid base to build...

2. ...a desire to improvise, and to improvise well. When I played in a jazz combo, understanding core scales, dynamics, phrasing, and the sheet music were just a few of the elements key to a successful solo. Yet creativity ultimately drove the solo at performance time, with the band's background playing as support and inspiration. Designing mecha feels much the same, with the "performance" in showing your best effort, being inspired from what exists, drawing from the imagination, and simultaneously pursuing improvement for future works.

3. When required, the ability to form a cohesive voice within your band. In the chorus sections, unintentionally sticking out like a sore thumb is hardly desirable (hearing myself playing far too loud in a post-concert recording is not pleasing!), but playing too quietly can draw attention to the lack of an assigned role too. Though most mecha designers I've met prefer to work solo, this is akin to having parts merge into the design and ultimately the entire composition (background, foreground, focal points, etc.), without having one element unbalance the entirety.

4. A drive to learn from one another. This affects all three of the above aspects, and quite a lot more! A closed-up mind is one of the least-desirable traits you and I could hang onto if we wish to better ourselves. And an open mind that is willing to accept help and constructive criticism not only helps the student, but often benefits the instructor, too. Doing research and brushing up on current techniques with regular practice wouldn't hurt either!

Whoever says that playing jazz isn't ever fun is probably doing it wrong, and whoever says that mecha design isn't ever fun is probably doing it wrong too. Because one of the greatest rewards is knowing that once you've attempted and honed a new ability within your genre, it suddenly opens up new branches to explore and develop a personalized "voice" within. And though the practice sessions and client requests might drag on far too long, testing your patience and your mettle's limits, there is an underlying knowledge that it's ultimately worth it.
  • Mood: Helpful
  • Listening to: "Black Paws" by Alain Caron.
  • Reading: Wikipedia.
  • Drinking: Hot cocoa.
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:icondlredscorpion:
dlredscorpion Featured By Owner Edited Sep 12, 2014  Professional Artist
A great read to see that you found that zone that we mecha artist discover after countless days and hours of hair ripping thinking of ideas and  designs. :D

Music wise i tend to use epic scores for my works, sound big, dramatic, power building up every second the scores paces to the next second. 
Just like your point no 3. they help me to paint a picture of how my machine will look like in the end.

Just want to add one more point -
I for one who enjoy design battlemachines, the mech is a representation of our hidden desire for power, the ego of 'God is force' brought to life on the medium. The image of a towering god looks like, engines of mass destruction and a force to be reckon with that will take more than a mountain to stop it. You have to put yourselves in that veiw when you design a battlemech. In some ways, you have to put yourself into a state of  awe of your own design, before you can even convince others.

Thats  is why i can relate my design with epic scores, thats how i find my connection there. Oh and a little Warmongering mindset does help to make a excellent design out, cause it will constantly teach to think out new ideas and weapons design to out perform other mechs capabilities and weaponary. Pushing the boundry on what you can equip on a mech to give you an edge but yet sounds logical and plausible.
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:iconrhuuka:
Rhuuka Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
What a very interesting way to connect two things you love to do, and you use them to make each other stronger. :D
To play sweet jazz music with mecha robots. I like to connect my music with smooth, cool trance music, because it is progressive, getting better over time. I start from simple lines (start the song) and end with a mecha robot in the end (final seconds with emotional emphasis). This journal will always stick to my mind. ;)
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:iconplasmafire3000:
PlasmaFire3000 Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011
Thanks! Trance and house are also some of my favorite genres of music, especially if they have lead improvisational (or jazz-like) sections. In any case, the long, often-graceful buildups to the pounding climaxes are each unique, and in the hands of a seasoned composer, it's almost euphoric. It's efinitely something I return to when designing machinery.
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:iconrhuuka:
Rhuuka Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
In that case, you would really enjoy Hybrid. The song Symphony and Finished Symphony have saxophone and piano in it.
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:iconel-bronco:
El-Bronco Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No body said this before. Good journal. :)
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:iconshinypants:
shinypants Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
nice entry that one :D well thought out
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:iconnewtman001:
newtman001 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Professional General Artist
Very well said! I'm impressed with your analogy and agree completely. Thanks for sharing your insight and experience (and I'd like to hear some of your jazz work, too)!
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:iconmecha-zone:
Mecha-Zone Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2011  Professional General Artist
Awesome journal entry. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts ;)
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