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How to make magic on stage

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by pklima, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    I'm not normally the kind of person to quote sci-fi novels, but this bit from Heinlein's "Stranger In A Strange Land" seems very relevant to making good live shows. The deal here is - the only person on Earth who has powers like levitation, telekinesis, making objects disappear etc. gets fired for being a lousy stage magician. The guy running the carnival gives him some parting advice about how to get better.

    Reading it I thought that I know some musicians who definitely have the same problem and could use the same advice, though obviously without the massive disdain for the audience.

  2. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    I've worked with magicians. Comedians, too. I have the utmost respect for both crafts.

    Magic isn't all about the tricks. Everybody knows they're tricks & there is no such thing as "magic".

    Comedy isn't about the jokes. If you don't believe that, try standing up in front of an audience & tell your best joke. See what reaction you get. Besides, everybody has heard them all before.

    Yet, somehow a live musical performance is supposed to be "All about the music." Just stand there in the dark, look bored (or look like that I-V quarter-note repetition is the most challenging task ever attempted), shut up & play.

    If it were true that live music is "All about the music", then why should anybody bother to leave the comfort of home? The sound system is probably better matched to the room, the quality of performance is much better (i.e. the original, pro musicians having crafted it in a studio with multiple tries to get it right), the drinks are a lot cheaper, no obnoxious strangers at the next table, etc.

    Something needs to be better than staying home, to motivate people to spend their precious leisure time & money. If it really is "All about the music", then why not just go see a DJ play the "real" tunes, instead of a group of guys doing a pale imitation? Don't blame the DJs for filling a hole. Blame the musicians for creating that whole to begin with.

    It's not about us. It's not even about the music. It's all about them.
  3. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Yeah, really getting inside the audience's heads - knowing what people like, why they like it, and what they like about it - is very valuable.

    I know bands that can't do it at all. They try to play things people will like, but they can somehow end up playing the song all wrong in spite of not making any mistakes. They will play popular dance songs and totally get rid of the dance rhythm.

    I used to be terrible at understanding this in my early 20s, though. I somehow got better, so there is hope.
  4. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    I wonder if this is something that can be learned. I'm sure people get better at performing but I think it's just them getting more confident to put themselves out there.

    IDK - watch this till the vocals come in. Friggin' brilliant!

  5. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Confidence is also a big part of making a stage show of any kind succeed, but I think this is something separate.

    I'm not sure if it's really the ability to understand and imagine what others want from music, though. Maybe in reality it's really just the ability to enjoy popular music yourself, or what most TBers would call "lack of taste".

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