• What are the different types of magic? (pt 2)

  • July 01, 2019

  • Yesterday I talked about the big three overarching types of magic in terms of the size of the performance. Magic is also broken into seven other kinds of categories which are based around what the magic effect’s presentation is and what the magician has done. In no particular order, they are as follows:

    • Vanish / Appearance
    • Levitation
    • Penetration
    • Transportation
    • Restoration
    • Mind Reading

    All of the categories are quite self-explanatory, and I’m sure you can think of some examples of each different one. Every magic show that you have seen, or will ever see, will include effects from at least a few of these groups, and it is essential to note that no one type is more impressive than the others, though there is a somewhat unique one, I’ll have to get to that later though. Must build suspense and give you a reason to keep reading after all!

    If you ever want to be a performer, there is a good reason for taking the time to appreciate and understand their differences. Let me explain why I say this.

    When a magician, such as myself, is learning magic, the most obvious effect to learn with a deck of cards is usually in the format of having your spectator select a card, then losing it in the deck and finally revealing the card. This is a great place to start as a magician and will help you get to grips with all the elements that go into a performance. Including managing your audience, having a structure to your effect, off and on beats, the list goes on. That kind of effect can be considered an “appearance” type effect. This is all good and well, but if you don’t realise there are different categories of effects, you could add another effect to your routine, which is also an appearance effect.

    Before you know it, your entire, well crafted and polished routine that you have spent months putting together, is made up of one appearance effect after another. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this, you will notice that your audience is less and less impressed at each conclusion as it happens. They will be able to guess what will happen at the crescendo of each effect, even if they don’t know it explicitly, they will find themselves twiddling their thumbs as they wait for you to “find their card” once again.

    To combat this, you have to bring variety into your routine, alternate between types, keeping your audience guessing. Next time you watch a great magician at work, keep this list of effects in mind, see if you can pick out which they are doing at any given moment and how they move from one type into another. I would recommend you try this at first with a stage magician, as they will often use one or two at a time on a large scale, giving you more time to appreciate which they are doing. A close up magician, on the other hand, will often jump very quickly from one to another without warning and use a string of them in rapid succession. That isn’t to say a stage magician won’t do the same, but they will be limited by the stage and the size of their act.

    Earlier I mentioned that one of the seven types is unique, and that one is “mind-reading”. Mind reading is unlike the others because as well as being a type of magic; it is also an entirely separate type of magic in its own right. Many magicians who perform mind reading, tend to focus solely on mind-reading and make it part of their entire act, persona, style and even go so far as to call themselves mentalists.

    The reason for this is usually down to personal preference, but there is a saying along the lines of, “for every prop a mentalist picks up, his fee drops by half”. After all, if you were a mind reader, why would you need anything else to help you? Mind reading lends itself well to being the focus of an entire act because it has so many facets to it, and so many places it can go. A Mentalist performer may read someone’s mind, predict the future, influence someone’s decisions or even move an object with their mind; the options are almost endless.

    I don’t do much mentalism, but I do enjoy having a few effects included in my repertoire as sometimes that is what the audience asks to see. If the client asks outright for a mentalist, I will often turn down the gig and recommend a more suitable performer, as the tone of a mentalist act does not suit the character I have created for myself. However, I do use elements from that world to, hopefully, bolster my effects, add variety, and if need be, throw some overly observant spectators off my scent!

    I still don’t know how to sign off these posts, so, until next time!

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