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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Why use the term Patter? » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Marduke Kurios
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Is it just me, or is this term very antiquated and inappropriate today? I'm just curious.

The closest thing in my dictionary referring to 'patter' (in magic use) is:

a)'the special language or jargon of a profession or class'
b)'talk glibly or mechanically'

Okay, I know when we speak privately amongst ourselves, a) stands. But in performance isn't 'script' more appropriate? After all, in theatrical performance we use a language understood by all (hopefully).

I'll admit some magicians do use b) in performance, making their performance seem very mechanical and not magical. So I'm okay if they use the term. ('glib' means: 'Fluent and voluble but insincere and shallow.')

But what about others?

Maybe this is just a personal gripe of mine but I think we could endeavour to substitute the use of that word with 'script'.

Any other thoughts would be appreciated. I want to see what others think. Thanks.

-Everkurios.
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Burt Yaroch
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I personally enjoy all the different magical lingo that we seem to throw about, especially the antiquated verbiage. I think it adds to the mystery of the art for those who are unfamiliar as well as keeping us grounded in our roots and steeped in our history. So I would argue that not only is it NOT inappropriate but completely converse.

If you say "script" I immediately think "actor" which in my mind has just removed any magical properties I was hoping to impart to my audience.

As in theater, we in magic have a language that everyone understands. Why fix it if it isn't broken?

And not to nitpick but "glib" also means "performed with a natural offhand ease" and "showing little preparation" which is precisely where our magic should be, again making your definition of "patter" the perfect fit. Smile
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Marduke Kurios
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Quote:
On 2002-02-20 15:39, yakandjak wrote:

"If you say "script" I immediately think "actor" which in my mind has just removed any magical properties I was hoping to impart to my audience."

Isn't that what we are? Actors?

I do find many actors very magical, and my own desire to be entertained (or suspension of disbelief) as well as effective acting and production skills keep that magic alive.

But I'm really only referring to the term 'patter'. I don't think anything was broken, I just think we could use a more professional term. To me the word 'patter' seems to keep magic in a catagory separate from professional theatrical stagecraft.

I just think that for our art to be taken more seriously, we could start by changing the way we define the words we use. I don't know, maybe I'm just making a molehill out of a mountain...

Thanks for the comment. Keep 'em coming.
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Peter Marucci
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The language evolves and we should evolve with it.

The use of "script" does, indeed, invoke the image of an actor.

But what's wrong with that?

If we strove more for the finished product of the type an actor produces, magic would be the better for it, I'm sure.

Patter should probably be restricted to "in-house" discussions, much like "silks" -- as in, "I will now take these three silks . . ."

(Please tell me nobody says that!)

Of course, there are many words whose meanings have changed:

Presently means soon; now it is used to refer to "now".

Hopefully means full of hope (as in "the monk prayed hopefully"); now it is used to mean the speaker or someone referred to hopes that an event will occur: "Hopefully, the jury will be back before night."

Momentarily means FOR a moment, not IN a moment: "I will come in momentarily but then I have to catch a train." and not "I will be there momentarily."

Then again, there are words that have reverted to their original meaning.

Many today fume at the use of the word "gay" to mean homosexual; they argue that the word means "happy" or "light-hearted".

But 300 years ago, "gay" meant exactly what it means today: homosexual. It was common among actors and many theatres were called the "Gaiety" a hundred or more years ago.

So maybe it is time to consign "patter" to the attic of history or, at least, to use among ourselves in referring to a specific part of a spoken routine (as opposed to ad lib).

A zillion people will now argue the opposite. But that's okay.

cheers,
Peter Marucci Smile
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Jeb Sherrill
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Well, the truth is that terms like patter are only used between magicians anyway. We don’t come up to normal people and say, "ok, now listen to my patter". It's like you said, magical jargon. To be honest, it is a somewhat random term we've adopted over the years, but because it has become "magical jargon", as it were, I doubt it really matters what the term is, or how we got it. All magicians know what patter is, and know what you're talking about if you say it. Trying to change the term now would probably be futile, but more importantly, it would be unnecessary. Like I said, the term is really only used amongst magicians anyway.

Sable
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Burt Yaroch
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Quote:
On 2002-02-20 16:18, Marduke Kurios wrote:

Isn't that what we are? Actors?



This is a completely different semantical debate but no, we are not actors. Some of us may aspire to be actors. Some of us may incorporate theatrical presention into our magic but they are not one and the same, IMO.

Very interesting thought thought Marduke. One that deserves a little more attention in another thread methinks.
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Scott F. Guinn
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The problem here is that we will then need to change all the other terms we use as well--misdirection, work, etc. Not to mention all the racially biased terms like Jap box, etc.

I think that, as long as we know what we mean, it doesn't much matter. Like Sable said, it's not something I use with my audiences anyway.

If it makes you feel better, use the word "script." Everyone will know what you mean, just as they will if someone else uses the term "patter."
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Stephen Long
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Why should the word patter have to mean the definition the dictionary gives it?
Ask any magician what patter is and they will tell you otherwise.
Words should not have to be confined to their dictionary definitions alone, and should certainly not be changed because of it.

Like Yak said, I like the little esoteric terms in magic.
It makes it what it is.
And like Scott said, who cares what you call it?
It's still the same thing.

Gonz
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Jeb Sherrill
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Scott, Gonz,
Really good points. Patter is the term we've made it. It is what we say it is.

Sable
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Burt Yaroch
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Here here!

Or should I say, There there!
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Marduke Kurios
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Thanks for the comments guys. It helps me to see your different perspectives, and gives me an ever-evolving perspective as well.
Any more?
Live well,
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Tom Cutts
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I guess my beef with the word "patter" is the mindless drivel that it is associated with. The prop adventures that passed as patter fifty years ago just don't cut it in the majority of cases today.

I would guess while including myself.....

OK, I would project on all crazy enough to agree with me that we who dislike the word do so because the connotation it both implies and propagates. If I say patter you know I could mean that meaningless trash that one finds in so many stereotypical old magic books.

If I say "my presentation", "my magical script", or "my story"; you know there was more thought put into it than off-hand, flippant patter.

Sure we could change the meaning of "patter". Too much labor for too little return. I find it far more effective and efficient to start with a new more exacting word or phrase.

It leaves me more time to do that which I mean to do. Perform magic.
Jeb Sherrill
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I agree with Tom about the annoying associations with mindless drivel, but for me, patter is a much more general term. It could mean mindless junk, or really good patter. I tend to assume that all pre-packaged patter is garbage (most of the time anyway), but the stuff a magician comes up with is his "working patter". For me it's just another piece of jargon that means whatever we want it to mean at the time.

Sable
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Mary B.
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My two cents: Language is meant for communication, and if you are able to get your meaning across, I don't think it matters much which words you use to do so.
Peter Marucci
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Language is, indeed, meant for communication.
Therefore, it is essential that, when you use a word, both you and the listener understand it to mean the same thing.
Otherwise, you don't get your meaning across.
For example, one person sees patter as meaning any form of speech on stage by a magician; another sees it, in narrower terms, as the pre-packaged script (usually bad) that is sold with a trick.
It is essential that words mean the same thing to the speaker and the listener.
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Peter Marucci
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John C
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...sometimes patter is....well, just patter....

John "Freud" Cesta
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Ronin
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I like to use the term "script" because it implies that a certain degree of care and craft went into choosing (and editing!) the words that are used.

But hey, if you want to choose the word "patter," fine by me....
David Hirata
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Scott F. Guinn
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So, it would seem that the general consensus is that, while not all of us like the term, we all at least know what it means.

My advice is, don't use it if you don't like it. Any time you write an article or effect, use a word you like better. Maybe someday, everyone else will follow suit, and you will have got your wish!
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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