What is "classic magic"?

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby smokemist » 05/19/08 01:56 PM

hmmmmm..

That's a label I've been trying to understand when it comes to stage magic.
When I hear," his act is classic magic". I used to think of a magi in black tails, with a dove act or manip balls, cards, etc.. possible done with classical music, such as Lance, Amos, Channing, etc..

Now, starting to re-think what it qualifies as now.. Some do classic style magic with billiard balls, cards, rings, etc
(classical magic objects/ moves) but dressed in a red tee-shirt & suspenders, with some sort of electronic music, or crazy costumes that are trying to shock, or blue suits, etc..

But, basically, many are doing classic magic, only with new or different music / costumes... So do they have a "classic magic" act, or are they "edgie, new and different"?

hmmmm...

What is a "classic magic act"?
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Postby Spellbinder » 05/19/08 09:38 PM

When I hear magicians using this term, it usually means the act is filled with stuff they have all seen before. If a magician appears on the scene and knocks their socks off with something new and different (like Cyril Takayama, for instance) you will never hear them use that term, and yet, if you examine even Cyril's magic, it is based on the exact same foundations as all other magic. It's a tribute to Cyril's imagination and skill that he leaves magicians with their mouths hanging open and not referring to his performances as a "classic magic act."
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Postby smokemist » 05/20/08 02:32 AM

Spellbinder wrote: If a magician appears on the scene and knocks their socks off with something new and different (like Cyril Takayama, for instance) you will never hear them use that term, and yet, if you examine even Cyril's magic."


I have seen his Fism act, which entails fantasio canes, appearing bills, walking knot, mult silks, cig manip...(classic magic, by your definition, no?) classic stage magic
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/20/08 08:50 AM

smokemist wrote:...What is a "classic magic act"?


On the audience's side (they pay for this stuff) - whatever makes them feel they "got it" and were not asked to accept any new ideas or challenge any below surface level preconceptions. Nice facile entertainment and eye candy.

On the artistic side -
Trite, banal, usually set way out of current social context - the good ones get the cliches right to appeal directly to stereotypes without causing the audience to decode the allusions. Lots of room for branding by making minor changes to the props used and character reactions to the magic. Not a bad thing really.

By way of counter example - billed as a performance artist the magician gets a heckler onstage, shoots them, proceeds with the act and then covers the body -> asrah to end clean and reset the stage for the next show. ( Marcel Duchamp meets Servais LeRoy :) )

Positive counter example - the early Penn&Teller shows back when they were a larger group - say their group straitjacket escape where they had to get out and pick up their instruments before the soundtrack for the song left off. :)
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Postby Kurt Lee Flickner » 05/22/08 09:29 PM

Classic Magic is anything, that is as old, as I am.
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Postby smokemist » 05/23/08 04:58 AM

i guess it's not an easy question to answer...
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Postby Disparity1 » 05/23/08 10:31 AM

"Classic magic" is any magic that is proven and has stood the test of time.
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Postby mai-ling » 05/24/08 10:42 AM

Disparity1 wrote:"Classic magic" is any magic that is proven and has stood the test of time.


ditto on that...

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Postby Brent McLeod » 05/31/08 11:44 PM

Classic magic

I base my cabaret,corporate & comedy club shows on classic magic to great success

naturally you adapt all effects to your style but in doing over 150 of these events a year-(I dont perform for kids) with classic magic

it means as mentioned above -Tried & tested in all working conditions for lay audience-(forget magicians)

Most acts have in some format classic magic in them

Cheers guys!!!!!!!!!
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Postby smokemist » 06/01/08 07:16 AM

[quote=Brent McLeod
Most acts have in some format classic magic in them

[/quote]

Exactly!!! Same with current Fism winners...

Maybe I am just annoyed if anyone calls my act, just "classic magic". Like other acts, i strive to add my own inovations and effects that have never been seen before, original music, thereby, accompanying some classic magic done to the best of my abilities.
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Postby Brent McLeod » 06/01/08 09:48 PM

[/quote]
Maybe I am just annoyed if anyone calls my act, just "classic magic". Like other acts, i strive to add my own inovations and effects that have never been seen before, original music, thereby, accompanying some classic magic done to the best of my abilities. [/quote]


Good points!!

Thats what makes us all different & unique when we all add our own styles to any magic effect

However -in doing these changes you must at the end of ther day ensure it is really entertaining to a lay audience if you are doing paid shows & not just fun for magicians in front of a mirror etc!!!

But thats a whole different topic

I did a highly paid show for a corporate lunch last week & used classic effects with my twist on them-I have not used for a while including-Bill in Kiwi, Banknight, Mental Epic & Silk to Egg!-All went over really well with good feedback at the end of the show-It was a gamble on my part but worked really well as these effects being in the classic range or thereabouts & this why I can change considerably from newer material & still have a good entertaining show !!!

Cheers Guys!!!

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Postby gregg » 07/10/09 05:26 PM

I would say that it means effects taught in the classic books-the'classics' such as Greater Magic, Sachs's, Gaultier, etc. Erdnase...I wonder if a date could be stated and anything before that date would be 'classic'?
Another way to look at it would be to say that public audiences like the classics but magicians don't because they know them already, so maybe when combinations are made, or twists or kickers are added, that the effect is no longer 'classic' but derivative. I'm trying to help. Maybe this clarifies things a tiny bit. Gregg Webb
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Postby Ian Keable » 08/02/09 06:35 PM

Charles Harrison, at The Magic Circle in April 1954, did a lecture titled The Qualities of a Classical Feat of Magic: and in it he attempted a definition of a classic trick. This lecture was written up in full and given away as an insert in The Magic Circular, the magazine of The Magic Circle.

Harrison came up with a list of eight criteria for what a classic trick is, the first five being, in my opinion, most relevant.

1) They have a lasting appeal which makes them popular through the ages.

2) The plot is plain and straightforward, not complicated and is easily understood.

3) The preliminary introduction to a classic feat can be brief and interesting.

4) Classical feats of magic suit the style of many types of performer.

5) The classics can be routined in many original ways.

Not sure if it answers the question "what is a classic magic act?"; but it provides fuel for thought.
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Postby David Alexander » 08/04/09 12:44 AM

Ian,

Thank you for posting those criteria. Very interesting.

I would be happy for someone to call what I do "Classic Magic" because I have worked hard to make it so. As I've written before, it takes a very long time to work up a successful presentation for something "new" but a lot less work to adapt a classic plot to one's own performing persona. If the goal is to entertain a lay audience then adapting classic plots is the way to go, Harrison's criteria being the key.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 08/04/09 01:20 AM

Ian,
Out of respect for the originator, it would be nice if you would post all of his thesis, not just the parts you agree with.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 08/04/09 02:09 AM

I don't know 6 or 7, but number 8 is Never get in a car with Vernon driving.
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Postby Ian Keable » 08/04/09 01:11 PM

Bill Duncan wrote:Ian,
Out of respect for the originator, it would be nice if you would post all of his thesis, not just the parts you agree with.


To be fair to myself, I only quoted the first five because that was all I had taken notes of (they were intended to be referenced in my book on Stand-Up; but I decided not to use them in the end).

Anyway I've gone back to the original supplement and these are the eight qualities Charles Harrion lists.

1) Classical feats of magic have a lasting appeal which makes them popular through the ages.
2) The plot is plain and straightforward, not complicated and is easily understood.
3) Little advance preparation is necessary and no special apparatus is used visibly.
4) Classical feats of magic suit the style of many types of performer.
5) The classics can be routined in many original ways.
6) The classics can be performed by numerous methods.
7) The preliminary introduction to a classic feat can be brief and interesting.
8) The effect of a classical feat is cumulative and with a delayed climax.

Interestingly he tries to select what he considers to be a contemporary feat of magic (defined as any feat originated during the past 30 years) as one that might be in the future considered to be a classic. And the trick he chooses is Tommy Tucker's Six Card Repeat.
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