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Eternal Order
Look mom! I've got
14062 Posts

Profile of daffydoug
I have several CD's I've purchased in the past of music written just  for magic performances.

Most of it is great stuff.

But for the most part I've let them gather dust because I just wasn't sure of how to easily enhance my show with (and this is the key) AS LITTLE TROUBLE AND HASSLE AS POSSIBLE.

So that is why I'm enquiring in this post. I'm hoping to get a brief "mini-education" on the most hassle-free system or systems out there for a one man show, such as I.
As I stated in my previous posts, I've completed putting together my "commando act", or as some would call it, my club act. I'm now working on my birthday party show. Putting it together and making good progress. 

Thinking about it, 
music would be an excellent enhancement. But it would have to be as trouble- free and hassle-free as possible. It would have to be compact, light to carry, and of course, running it would have to be something that I could do without losing focus on the actual mechanics of performing my effects. 

I think maybe you're getting the idea. 

Any suggestions?
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
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Inner circle
Tucson, AZ
1903 Posts

Profile of chmara
First - hassle free usually adds cost and possibly outside people to do the sound work. But, Garageband (MAC) can help speed things up. And, unlike a free-form commando acts, when you add music, you add the discipline of timing and linearity to your work unless you want to fiddle with fast forwards, and skipping tracks etc. DURING your act.

I remember purchasing the late John Calverty's Casper some years ago -- and it contained his soundtrack on about 9 different tapes for switching on and off (by an assistant) at various cue points. It took two cassette decks to pull off the complete sequence...and that offstage assistant.

I think (and I have been known to be wrong) that it was originally Kerry Polak who came up with the system of pre-recording tracks and sound effects (still linear) and eliminating the off stage assistant by using a system of radio controlled playback cued by pocket and ankle switches on the performer. Assembling the sound was reduced in hassle -- and in performance however -- it added one mnore responsibility to the performer's list of things to remember and cue without looking awkward. I finally had mine modified to not only cure sound -- but control my lights with the system.

BUT -- if you had a memory lapse -- missed a cue -- and sometimes positioned the base away from the range of the switches (as with every system) you can have potential trouble during your show.

So, as little trouble and hassle as possible, to me, boiled down to the real work of creating a show that always ran the same -- (SEVERAL SHOWS ACTUALLY) rehearsing, rehearsing and rehearsing so I not only set off the cues correctly -- but also did not prematurely set off a cue if my ankles came together at the wrong time -- or I bumped my pocket which contained a switch.

Breaking it down further --

1. Write your act & script in the order you will perform it.
2. Choose apprp[riate (licensed) music and musical segments that you wish to use.
3. Record everything in order, fades, cross fades, ta-da's and all and check the performing the act.
4. Commit them to the media required to your current sound and cueing system, the one driven by the switches on your body or table.
5. Practice the whole thing and video you use of the switches and change how you set stuff off so it is not obvious you are pouching a switch.
6. If anything glitches, mistimes of does not work -- go back to steps 2 & 3 before you continue.
7. If you use a portable computer or tablet program for your shows make sure you have a system of remotely triggering it (often blue tooth with limited range) and the cueing/music/lights program you have installed. These programs are often not cheap...but are hassle reducing.
8. Rehearse, practice - make mistakes and correct the tracks, change music (steps 2-3) if something is not working.

I would strongly suggest, if you are a working magician (regular) you get a dedicated tablet and use it for nothing else except for the shows you have put together and can reliably perform, knowing your obstacles for blue tooth or RF connections. I do not recommend IR connections as I found their line of sight switching to be problematic.

PM me here if you want to know more about the travails, hassle and stuff needed to putting this together.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ

C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
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Eternal Order
Look mom! I've got
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Profile of daffydoug
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
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Stockholm, Sweden
187 Posts

Profile of aheads
Sage advice from chmara but maybe a little overwhelming for a musical beginner. The steps you mention are common sense and an excellent guide to adding music to a show but I think maybe daffydoug was looking for the nuts and bolts more than the process (unless I misread everything).

Adding hassle-free music to a show. For this you will need only 4 things:

1. The music you want to add
2. A system to play it on
3. A way of making it play/pause/skip forward when you want it to
4. Speakers so people can hear it.

1. Use music you are legally allowed to use. Just because you own a CD does not mean you can play it to other people. As chmara said, use music you have purchased a licence for or have the rights to play publicly. You can keep it simple in the beginning and only add effects, fades and bells and whistles when you know what you're doing.

2. In the old days a tape deck or CD player was all you needed but now you'll probably need to copy those CD's onto a digital device (tablet, ipod, iphone, laptop, mp3 player etc). I use my own telephone (iphone 5) which is pocket sized. The songs can then be placed into whichever order you want for your show.

3. An RF (Radio Frequency) remote or Bluetooth remote is preferable but an Infra-red remote could work as long as you have line of sight with your system. I and many others use the iJet RF remote for Ipod or Iphone. It can be kept in the pocket and the buttons pressed discreetly when needed. This is harder to do with an Infra-red remote (unless you hide it on stage as I used to). You can use a RF remote in conjunction with some sort of software or app on your system which can play songs/tracks one at a time so you don't have to worry about pausing the music after you have finished a routine. It will do it for you and get the next song ready to play. It can automatically add fades to the songs/tracks as well.

4. The speakers are the expensive bit but it depends also on what size crowds/rooms you're playing in. I use a small compact sound-bar speaker which isn't very powerful but is OK for rooms of up to 40-50 people. It cost me $150. This I connect to my iphone via a simple audio cable. It can be battery driven also.

My entire music system fits into a shoe box and works great for up to 40-50 people in a closed environment. If you want to add microphones then the system will also need to incorporate a way of mixing multiple signals (music and microphone) before sending it out to the speakers. That will cost you a lot more.
All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream
arthur stead
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Inner circle
When I played soccer, I hit
1823 Posts

Profile of arthur stead
Great advice from chmara above. (Especially the part about practice, practice, practice). Music can be such a wonderful asset in a magic performance ... IF you know how to use it correctly. Unfortunately, far too many people don't don't put much thought into it. They tend to just slap on any old piece of music ... or use their own favorite songs. But if you pick the "wrong" music for a routine, it can be very distracting for the audience.

A really good resource on how to implement music into your act is our "Give Your Act A Music Makeover" PDF book, available on our website.

As regards sound systems, I use a Happie Amp for smaller shows (daycares, small birthday parties). It's quite hassle-free because it operates on batteries and comes with a wireless headset mic system built in. For larger shows, it's more complicated, because then I lug my large self-powered Mackie speaker along with a small Mackie mixer, plus a Sennheuser wireless mic system and a custom-modified Countryman E6 mic.

For controlling the music, I use Brian Foshee's Ultimate Control, which has never let me down. It takes a bit of patience to get your songs in the right sequence for each playlist, but one it's done, you can elect to pre-set the volume for each track. That's very useful! Another great feature is that when you fade out a music track (at the touch of a button), the device will silently skip to the beginning of the next track, waiting in pause mode, ready for you to hit the play button.

A less hassle-free approach would be put your playlists on an iPod, and control the music with an iJet remote control. But then you have to put silence tracks in-between each piece of music, and you can't fade the music out.

Feel free to PM me, too, if you need more info about using music.
Arthur Stead
royalty-free music and interactive routines
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Eternal Order
Look mom! I've got
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Profile of daffydoug
I'm going to sort through all posts in this thread (very informative, and everybidy has my thanks) and see if I can ferret out the answers I seek.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
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Loyal user
266 Posts

Profile of CesaralM
I advice you to have a look at the Cesaral Soundmaster:

And here is the last remote added to the large amount of different remotes that can control the Soundmaster:

I also have special remotes specially designed for ventriloquists .

There are many customers really satisfied with it!

I hope it helps

Cesar Alonso (Cesaral Magic)
Carl Andrews
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Maui, Hawaii
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Profile of mrmetropolis
I have a pop up table with a sound system built into it. I run all my music with an Ipod and an RF remote. The remote is attached to my Mic. After each music trick I have backing track play that isn't as loud. When I'm done with the talking segment with the backing track I queue to the next song. I don't worry about licensing of music as it is a live performance. I spoke with a representative at APM music and he said he didn't care about live performances. It would be different for youtube or television.
"For those who believe, no explanation is necessary, for those who do not, none will suffice".-Joseph Dunninger
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