music for stage shows

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby Guest » 10/09/02 09:21 AM

I've recently seen a few excellent stage performers do completely silent acts set to music - not just magic, but physical comedy and juggling - and I'm wondering where they get the music from. It tends to be modern/funky stuff without lyrics, and doesn't seem like the kind of thing available in shops - more of a specialist thing. Where can you get this kind of music? Any ideas?

And what about mixing music with comic sound effects? How to do it? I wonder.

Postby Guest » 10/12/02 05:58 AM

I think the najority is the up beat jazz. There is alot out there in the jazz section that is great.

Postby Jeff Haas » 10/13/02 01:31 AM

A few quick suggestions:

- Go to Yahoo, type in "Buy-out music." There are a bunch of different companies that have pre-written music in many different styles available, and you can purchase the track and complete performance rights from them. A good resource if you have a specific type of music in mind and want to find a cut that works.

- There's lots of software that will allow someone to mix music with sound effects, voice-over, etc. If you're wondering how it all works, you're probably better off finding someone who already knows how to work with on this.

- You could mix the sound effects into the music, and then you've got to time your routine and make sure you hit the exact moment every single time you do it. Or, you can have someone run sound for you and trigger the sound effect when you need it. There is a lot of software available that can be used for this.

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Postby Guest » 10/14/02 12:46 AM

Thanks for the replies!
By the way, does anyone know how payment of royalties works? If I want to sample something from a commercial recording (eg soundtrack stuff) how do I set about doing it legally? What kind of cost are we talking about? Has anyone else done this themselves?

Postby Guest » 11/07/02 08:53 PM

Malcolm --

I cannot speak for the royalty collection agencies in the EU -- but unless you are worlking with either buy-out music with appropriate license, OR with music you have created yourself (hiring the artists etc.) it is illegal and often a civil infraction to used licensable music for performances.

However -- in the US -- when working for a hotel or cabaret -- they are expected to have a blanket license.

I wish there was a simple answer --- but the lawyers got at it.

Maybe Shakespeare was right!

Gregg Chmara

Postby Sean Piper » 11/07/02 08:59 PM

A great tip I got a few years ago from a prominent illusionist was to use music from martial arts films. Many of the songs on these soundtracks have the right kind of energy for upbeat stage magic.
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Postby Guest » 11/09/02 08:08 PM

For some wonderful useable music, without paying additional royalties, 1)search the internet for Alan Skogerbo. He has some neat music available. 2) go to Randy has been putting out useable music for years, and recently gave me three brand new CDs of professionally recorded music, all at "way too cheap" prices ($15.00/CD of 20 tracks).


Postby Guest » 11/09/02 10:10 PM

Posted by Sean Piper
A great tip I got a few years ago from a prominent illusionist was to use music from martial arts films. Many of the songs on these soundtracks have the right kind of energy for upbeat stage magic.
Great idea, but I'll go you one better; use the music from porno flicks! Yeah, that's the ticket. Could you image "Professor's Nightmare" with a wacky Wah-Wah guitar backdrop? Or the Linking Rings with that crappy saxophone noodling and off-tempo hi-hat?

The possibilities are opening up before my eyes.

--Randy Campbell

Postby Carl Mercurio » 12/19/02 02:30 PM

So what do you think it would cost to use a track from say a Sinatra recording, and how would you go about getting the permission to use it?
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Postby Guest » 04/22/03 07:50 AM

I have found that some Karaoke tracks to modern popular songs works great for younger audiences. Listen to this NSYNC song "Bye Bye Bye" in the above mentioned format. It has enough energy and breaks and climaxes to make my D'Lite routine entertaining.

I sequence my own music using a professional keyboard and sequencer. I also use a very affordable multitrack recorder on my laptop that you can download from the internet at (Free to download /$45 to register). Download it and play with it for free. Just a few years ago, digital multi-track recorders cost 1000's of $$$$$.

NTRACK also allows you to place those sound effects right where you want them. I have a short routine with 6 squeakers that is done entirely to choreographed sound effects that I put together using NTRACK.

Postby Bill Mullins » 04/22/03 12:11 PM

Several years ago I went to a convention where a fairly well known magician (I won't name him here) lectured on originality of effects, the importance of respecting the work of others, and the need not to steal another magician's effects. He then did a stage show with commercial music (which was critical to his act). Afterwards I asked how he went about getting permission to use that particular piece of music, and he said he just used it. He went down a bunch in my opinion that day.

Several years ago, Jeff Busby released in America two tapes from Larry Jennings and one from Derek Dingle which had been recorded in France. They used, during closing credits, music by Dave Grusin from the soundtrack to the film "The Firm", without credit or copyright notices. Add that to your Busby files. . .
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Postby Guest » 04/22/03 12:38 PM

Don't get me started on copyright piracy, whether it be the written word on the Internet, or the wholesale "sharing" of music and sound files.

Or P. Diddy.

Intellectual and creative property rights have never been so dissed. :whack:

--Randy Campbell

Postby Pete Biro » 04/22/03 07:01 PM

You MUST contact BMI and/or ASCAP to get royalty payment schedules, fees, etc.

If you are smart you hire someone like Mike Close to write original music for your act.

You don't want familiar tunes... the audience recognises the music and it relates in some way to them and detracts from your performance.

John Thompson and Norm Nielsen have used Keith Droste to write their music (He has moved to Chicago area).
Stay tooned.
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Postby Guest » 04/22/03 11:14 PM

(First, the standard disclaimer--I am not a lawyer, and none of what follows is to be construed as anything even remotely resembling legal advice. It is merely the educated opinion of a magician who happens to make part of his living as a sound designer for theatre [in other words, it's my job to know this stuff :) ].)

That's not entirely correct, Pete. If the use of the music is considered to be a dramatic usage, licensing falls under the individual music publishers, and NOT ASCAP and/or BMI. Pre-show/post-show music, and possibly even bump music while choosing an audience volunteer would fall under an ASCAP/BMI license; music used as an integral part of the production, contributing to the dramatic content of the performance, would generally fall under the rights of the publishers.

It's kind of a weird division as to what the publishers/licensing organizations consider dramatic usage vs. non-dramatic usage; you'd be well advised to do a bit of research before assuming that an ASCAP/BMI license covers you.

Furthermore, when an ASCAP/BMI license does cover you, typically the venue will have a blanket license that covers all events in the venue, and it isn't your responsibility (although it is possible that you could be named in a suit if an appropriate license isn't in place).


Postby David Mitchell » 04/23/03 05:17 AM

For those of you that have access to it, read this.

The Linking Ring, May 2002
The Business of Magic
"Put Music in your Magic"

Definitely an eye opened when it comes to the issues of music.

David Mitchell
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