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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Polly wants a cracker... » » Creativity in dove magic and music questions (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

tjkmagicman
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I have been struggling to create truly original material for my dove act and wondered if anyone had any tips for coming up with unique material. And what is considered "original"? There are so many different opinions on this. Some people think its ok to modify things and others do not. What is your guys opinion for this? Where do you think the line is? Because nobody wants to be considered a hack or a carbon copy. I know I don't. And any info on good music downloading programs/groups/ search names for good magic music would be appreciated. Thanks I look forward to hearing what everyone things.
Bob Sanders
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TJK,

Welcome to the Magic Café. Was this your first post? You've been onboard since October.

Dove magic is my addiction. I've been doing it a while. Noah borrowed my doves for the Ark! Actually I'm much younger than that.

You have a lot of questions and I think you will find many of them already treated here on The Magic Café. Get familiar with the Search function and you can learn a lot fast.

I'm only going to deal with one of your questions: "Where do you think the line is?"

The line is a moving target. However, certainly you should never copy another's patter and/or music without specific permission. This is not limited to doves. After your first twenty years in magic you will realize that there really are very few honestly new trick techniques. But stealing another's presentation without specific permission is certainly a No, No. Exposure is also one of those lines you never want to be guilty of crossing. Definitely own your own presentation. Leave others’ presentations alone. Expect the same.

I like to think of it like music. (I came from the commercial music background too.) The notes are available to anyone willing to learn to find them. However, note order and presentation often has private ownership. Respect that ownership. The same is true of magic. Don’t write checks on someone else’s account without their specific permission. Professional magic is a strange inventory of total honesty about trickery. That is weird isn’t it? We are entertainers, not thieves. There is a very important difference.

Enjoy your magic and The Magic Café.

Bob
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Dave Scribner
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TJ, originality is always a problem. For example, magician A waves a silk in the air, and produces a dove from it. Magician B waves some ribbons in the air and produces a dove. Is magician B's effect original? The actual method is the same. See the dilemna?

To present a truly original act, I would first think of what you would like to have the audience see. Think "outside the box", gee I sound so commercial. Next work on how to get it done. Remember, nothing is impossible with magic. Not every effect in the act has to be 100% original either. If you have some really strong original effects, the rest of the act can rely on "standard" effects but even those can be modified so they don't look like everyone else's presentation.
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zaubern
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When it comes to dove magic, it is so hard to be original. I can think of only one routine (not dove magic) I have that is "mine." I took a standard routine and made it completely different from what it was and came up with something completely original. The structure is something recognizable to magicians but the presentation is completely original. Yeah I have a lot of material that I have original patter for, but this is something I feel I made from the ground up. My thought with dove magic is that a lot of guys are looking to impress/fool magicians. I don’t work for magicians so my dove act is not super original but is certainly not a copy...I came up with a routine that is simple, flows nicely and fits my character. Its not something I think would make magicians do a double take but my audiences sure seem to like it. My dove act is something I am always working on to make it better and more original but anyone will tell you with all aspects of magic, it can be tough to come up with new and original material. But when you do, it is yours and your hard work has paid off. Try watching performers other than magicians to see if anything inspires you...I always love seeing other performance artists to get ideas for new things.
Zaubern Smile
Dave Scribner
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Good point, zaubern. You're right that we tend to make up our acts amaze other magicians and it isn't going to happen in most cases. It isn't always the originality of the effect but how it is performed that makes a differnce. Almost every dove act I've seen at some point the magician wads up a silk and produces a dove. It's not the trick but how well he does it or what little variation he comes up with.

A few years back I did an effect where I came on stage with a video tape and inserted it into a machine. Nothing happened so I removed the cassette to find a trail of tape sticky out. Gathering the tape and pulling more out of the cassette, gave me a bundle of it and I produced the dove from there. Still the dove from silk effect but by substituting the tape for the silk, it appeared different and surprised a few people.

Unless you're performing for the same group of laymen over and over, it's not the originality of the dove work that will impress but the smoothness of your moves and the actual appearance of the birds themselves.
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Bob Sanders
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Gentlemen,

I agree. Doing magic for other magicians is different from doing magic for most paying audiences (or even free admission audiences). It's like doing surgery for other doctors to see! What about the patient?

For years as a marketing professor I also taught advertising and advertising production. Since many media students (College of Journalism) crossed over for advertising, we had a major dose of reality on advanced advertising production problems. Media students tended to emphasize tools of media. Marketing students were into targeted, persuasive messages. The conflict was often devastating.

The focus problem was the same in both cases. When we are media (magic) tools oriented we are selling “look what I (the presenter) can do”. When we are audience (target customer) oriented, we are selling “here are the results for you”. It is almost impossible to do both very effectively. Doing even one is no easy task.

In advertising we often referred to videos produced by the budding “media inspired” producer as an MTV technicians’ skills tape. The message was clearly “I have these tools mastered” and the unwritten message was “but they are used here to destroy any meaningful communication”. The “media inspired” group in turn looked at the videos produced by the “suits” (business types) as “well it might sell hamburgers, but who would watch that tired old ad?” Role clarification was a major challenge. For many students it was five years after graduation before the lesson soaked in. The only purpose of any of the techniques is to affect some predetermined behavior from the audience. (Remember that the same lure will catch fish year after year. It’s the aspiring fisherman who needs a new lure every season. The fish aren’t unhappy.)

It is a case of fit. Who is the audience? Unsophisticated audiences can tell how things are alike. Sophisticated audiences can tell you how they differ. Neither necessarily relates to audience satisfaction. But both types are in an audience of magicians or young doctors. It’s a tough audience to work for! The observations about originality will run the gambit. What about the patient? Was the audience entertained? Do we really and truly mean “original” or do we mean “new” to this audience? How homogeneous is this audience? Among magicians, I doubt that it is very homogeneous in knowledge, experience, or capacities for sophistication.

Bob
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DaveWomach
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In the January 2005 issue of MAGIC, on page 26, in the lower left hand corner is a "Quick Poll Results" from a poll in Vegas, targeting Vegas Magicians. It says the following...

Las Vegas Magicians are:
Semi-amusing 50%
Elite Entertainers 22.7%
Useless and Washed-Up Dopes 18.2%
Generally a bore 9.1%

This pole was generated from 72,000 people on December 2nd.

It just brings up a point to me. Why are magicians settling from poor quality in our performance? I was recently in Orlando where I watched a Cirque du Soleil production called La Nouba. As I sat there and watched the show, I couldn't picture ONE magician who would be qualified enough to be on stage with those artists.

Rather than focusing on originality, focus on entertainment value. If you are good, the audience isn't going to say, "He was amazing... but I've seen that before!" Most of what the Cirque du Soleil performers perform is NOT original. They are choreographed, energetic, and focus on ENTERTAINMENT... not fooling anyone. For the most part, they are performing the same things that have been performed in any circus for as long as we can remember. Magicians are leaving Vegas, and being replaced by Circue du Soleil. In the next few months they will have gone from 3 productions in Vegas, to 6. They have just added their 4th one in the MGM. Meanwhile, Steve Wyrick is buying his way from theatre to theatre.

There is a reason these shows are becoming so popular, and it isn't because people have never seen someone do a backflip from a trapeze before. When will an act be good enough to be on stage with Cirque du Soleil?

Just something to think about.

Dave
ckaleto
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You 're right DAVE ...
A dove is not a gimmick ...
Bryan Gilles
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Excellent point Dave!

I love magic. I love to see a great performance. Unfortunately, there are few original performances in magic. It seems like everyone is performing the same stuff no matter the theater or tour. How many times can we see the same effects and get the same response of wonder and mystery? One mans signature routine is anothers weakest effect. It is sad to see Stienmeyer's "Oragami" redone over and over with the same or similar patter of Copperfield. The origianlity of ones performance really draws the line in the sand. There is nothing worse than paying the prices for these big-venued shows such as Vegas or Branson only to see the same illusion once again. It seems that magic is taking a back seat to many of entertainments up and coming trends.
Tim Ellis recently wrote something to me in a PM that made me rethink my own routines. He said... "If you take the magic out of the routine you perform, is it still entertaining?" If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
Dave you mentioned that... yes, people have seen performers do backflip from a trapeze before but it is the entertainment these spectators have come to see. There are numerous second rate David Copperfields or second rate David Blaines out there doing the same performances... when will we see more unique acts?
(I hope this isn't redundant... Dave made a pretty clear point!)
With that said, taking it back to Tjkmagicmans post... Be original in whatever you perform weither it be doves or even Oragami... Entertain, mystify... afterall why are we magicians?
Regards,
Bryan Gilles
Magic Blinds
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An original dove act does not exist. The first dove worker was a mexican magician named Cantu, Channing Pollack put a twist to the dove magic and wore a tux.

What you have to find is your own style. It depends on your age, what music you like, personality.

My advice if your under 40 years DO NOT wear a tux with tails. Tails are the appropriate attire back in the 1930's, over 70 years ago.

Find an outfit, NO tails, that no one is doing a dove act with and that will be "original".
Bob Sanders
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Magic Blinds,

I think your magic history of dove magic has some rather important gaps. Doves with silks is at least 600 to 900 years old, if not thousands of years old. Mexico is hardly a place of origin (It's too young!) for any magic that I can name and Pollack was schooled for a part in a movie by five professionals.

Some dove magicians dress formally in white tie and some do not. That doesn't make dove magic, dove magic any more than including a guitar makes music rock or country. Professionals dress appropriately for the audience.

Costumes are important. They should match and complement your act. When I am Bubba Whodini, there is no tux. But I am new, I started in the sixties. (I was also a professional musician first.)

Concentrate your energy on what you are, not on what you aren't. There is too much not to be. There is a lot of room for opportunity. Find yours.

Good Luck!

Bob
Magic By Sander

PS --- Congratulations on reaching your 50th post. Now you can get to some of the more private stuff. Enjoy The Magic Café.
Bob Sanders

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Magic Blinds
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Bob,

I been working with doves for almost 20 years, and I am in my late 20's. I started when I was very young with a dove pan.

I never said Cantu worked in Mexico, he was just Mexican or from Mexican origin. A little history about him is in the Chavez Dove Book. He is credited for starting the dove act. If memory recalls, He produced doves from his serape. I just find it sad that history has lost him. Pollack got a lot of the glory when it was Cantu who started the dove act. Maybe it was because he didn't wear a tux and rather a charro outfit and did the act to the song "La Paloma".

My whole post about costumes comes from my experience and a recent lecture of Dale Hindman, the President of the Magic Castle. Promoter of "It's Magic". He basically said a tux with tails is an outfit from the 30's and it does not fit a 13 year old. Then he said he challenges magicians to find something new, clothes wise.

It was a call to change magic before we all become dinosaurs.
Dave Scribner
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Magic Blinds, As Bob stated, Cantu did not invent the dove act. Dove magic has been around in one form or another for hundreds and hundreds of years. Channing Pollock, while one of the most polished performers, was coached by other magicians.

Dale Hindman's advice concerning a 13 year old wearing a tux is sound but it does not mean that a tux should not be worn. A 13 year old in a tux looks exactly like someone playing a part and it does look out of place. At the very least, it telegraphs to the audience that "here come the doves".

Wearing a tux in the right setting can be amazing. Look at James Dimmare. He's worn a tux for years for his dove act and I don't think anyone would say it is out of place. He has designed his act to be very formal.

Now a tux with tails doesn't have to be formal black either. Look at Jason Byrne. His is blue but it is still a tux with tails and he wasn't around in the 30's.

I think the point here is that it really doesn't matter whether you wear a tux, a sports jacket or jeans and a sweat shirt. The important thing is that it fits your style and you develope your act according to that style.
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Magic Blinds
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Here is some info about Cantu:

http://www.magictricks.com/bios/whoswhocd.htm

Cantu (1896-1949)
Mexican illusionist (born Abraham J. Cantu) who created the first commercially successful dove act. Briefly billing himself as "Professor Tucan", he had a long career performing in U.S. theaters and clubs. He performed in an elaborate Mexican cowboy costume, with specially gaffed serapes to hold his dove loads. He was killed in an automobile accident in Atlanta, Georgia.

The point I am saying is to find a modern outfit and modify it for doves, get rid of the tails stop using music everyone is using. I bet if I were to take a show of hands how many magicians were a tux with tails, white shirt, a lot of people would raise their hands. Tux with tails was the look made popular by Robert Houdin over 100 years ago.

I know some of my comments are upsetting some people in this forum but it is my advice and maybe someone will read this and use the information.

In order for magic to survive we have to adapt.

David wrote:
<<<<A 13 year old in a tux looks exactly like someone playing a part and it does look out of place. At the very least, it telegraphs to the audience that "here come the doves". >>>>

A 13 year old in a tux looks awkward and out of place. The only time I see a 13 year old wearing a tux is weddings. But a 13 year old has the right to wear a tux if he likes. The tux will also make him look like every other 13 year old doing magic.
Dave Scribner
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This discussion has gone a little off topic and should really be held in "the clothes we wear" forum. Sufice it to say that everything in magic has it's place including the type of clothing we wear. A tux has it's place and very often looks out of place on the wrong person.
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Bob Sanders
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There is also the reality that socially appropriate formal dress is not a magician's call. The professional magician is a paid employee, not an honored guest!

There are venues where costumes are appropriate that don't have to fit with the dressing of the audience. I even have done shows in western attire with a western hat and boots when appropriate. I try to keep my real costumes (regardless of cut) in grays, silvers and blues because of my white hair. However, I do have a half dozen or more formal tuxedos (both white tie and black tie) in muted blacks, pin stripes and midnight blue for truly formal occasions. I wear them because of the venue and the dignity of my audience.

I don’t recommend white tie or black tie for a child’s birthday party or a Labor Day picnic.

Likewise, gym shoes and a cartoon printed tee shirt or jacket will put you out of business for doing wedding parties, State banquets, upper end fundraisers, and country club functions.

Wearing socially prescribed clothing does not prevent the act from being original. Go to Calcutta, India and see what some of the original dove magicians wear and perform. They were doing that long before Christopher Columbus got lost and discovered America in 1492 AD. (Guess what he was hoping to import? Hint: It is the source of the white Java doves magicians use here and they sold silk to Europe. Even so, he did not get there! But he did mistakenly name the people here Indians! He was wrong again!)

In 1969, I entered the import business. It was loaded with surprises. (There are a few things I still import. Magicians' silks from China are among them. I find them superior to India silks for magicians' purposes.) One of the most disturbing findings for me was how the quest to find a westward sea route to India impacted American history for centuries and it has loaded us with misconceptions and disinformation. In the 80s I was extended an invitation to perform in Calcutta. Everything a dove worker would need is already there. (Don't expect to surprise them. Learn!)

Bob
Magic By Sander
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