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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Once upon a time... » » Difference between a story and a patter?? (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Cyberqat
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Hi Guys,

I've come up with my first bit of patter I'm really proud of. I'm not sure if it counts as a story or not. Its a "lecture" about Elvis impersonators in the 60s illustrated with multiplying and then disappearing halves.

What delinates the line between a patter and a story?

CQ
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Jaz
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One definition of patter is:
"The usually glib and rapid speech or talk used by a magician while performing, a barker at a circus or sideshow, a comedian or other entertainer, a vendor of questionable wares, or the like; stylized or rehearsed talk used to attract attention, entertain, etc."

A definition of story:
"A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale."

So IMO, if there is a line then it's a gray one.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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For me the thin line is the difference between
“meaningless” and “meaningful” words.

If it begins: “take any card from this ordinary deck”
there is far less theatrical interest and impact, than
if it begins: “once upon a time…” and goes somewhere.

My two-cents,
Walt
“Tales of Enchantment: The Art of Magic”
by Walt Anthony
www.LeapingLizardsMagic.com

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christiancagigal
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That is unless you do something out of the ordinary like start your story with the line "take any card from this ordinary deck", and then break that convention by saying something like, "that's the way we normally start a magic show, now isn't it...? what if we did something... well... a little different... strange... out of the ordinary... but first take any card from this ordinary deck."

But yes Jaz and Walt are correct. If you're just describing your actions with some cute jokes it's essentially patter. Anything deeper than that and you begin to enter "story"

C
"Besides the known and the unknown, what else is there?"-Harold Pinter
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Al Straker
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A story will hold interest and entertain without needing the magic itself, patter will not.

Al
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Vick
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Also a story has a line, it goes somewhere, a beginning and a end, a line that runs through it, a thread so to speak. It may tell many different things in many different ways


patter has none of these as a rule but could have them
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basic_mystifier
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Storys have plots that should coincide with the trick.... The tale of the king and his 3 sons... with the ropes of different sizes..... that's one I do
dsacks
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Quote:
On 2009-01-29 00:19, Al Straker wrote:
A story will hold interest and entertain without needing the magic itself, patter will not.

Al


Following Al's thought --

I would say that magic is like pictures in the story -- it enhances a story

Patter on the other hand, almost explains the magic -- it doesn't let the magi speak for itself.

If I remember correctly, the Professor said that a good story is needed for the routine to be entertaining -- it was one of the most important things in entertaining.

My 2 cents....

David
Alvino
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I think that the words spoken by a magician should support the notion that people want to experince mystery from magic and not hear long-winded stories. Read the books of Bob Longe and you will get an idea of the kind of words that effectively support the forward movement of a magical presentation. I recently attended a performance/lecture given by a well known magician. He was lecturing at a magic shop before a mixed audience of magicians and lay people. The magicians were all adrool over the long winded and beautifully crafted words of the bearded guru while the regular folks who wanted to experience some mystery were bored out of their mind. As an actor as well as a magician, I have the skills to over-present magic but my experience in the real world has shown that good magic speaks for itself. Patter lightly and carry a big wand!
Crowslide
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A story by defintion must have a conflict or problem to be resolved
koh
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I feel like telling a story for magic - is like watching a movie and to let the magic unfold naturally. Whereas, patter is trying to connect the dots of two different things to attempt to make the magic make sense.
DanielGreenWolf
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I've long been an opponent of the use of the word "Patter". It means meaningless speech and no performer should be speaking without meaning. Even an effect that's primarily exposition can be done without "pattering" and be quite interesting.

A "script", a "story", a "tale"... all of these would be quite better than "pattering".

And, perhaps I'm speaking of a different "bearded guru" (I doubt it) but I watched while a room with 150 "non-magicians" were held captivated and hung on every word of a tale-telling, bearded magician, and part of that audience was a number of my friends and family and they wanted to hear more after it was over. Everyone has a different experience and its a shame that "all" of the non-magicians at that lecture didn't enjoy it, but that is why there are many different styles of magic.

Stories don't have to be long or complicated. But they do have to be delievered with meaning. Even a one line story can bring an effect together.
-Much love,
Daniel GreenWolf
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Stefan
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I am not in disagreement with anyone on this. We had a somewhat heated arguement on this years ago on the Shadow digest. The short magic story as patter is an old outdated term by which even good stories or magic tales were called or referred to - in the old days. I prefer to think of the better old material as routines rather than patter which has negitive connotations these days. It was just the way old magic instructions were sold, they called the talkie part - patter, no matter how good or bad it was. I never call my material patter but call them stories, tales, myths, legends, ghost stories and folk tales that happen to have a little magic woven in.
funsway
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What hasn't been mentioned here is the integration of magic effects and story line such that the produced objects tell the story -- think of "Peter and the Wolf" of musical fame using objects to represent characters. These object appear, vanish, morph and play about to make the point of the story memorable. I used to do this all the time as a teacher -- especailly if the students were developmenmtally disabled. The words would make no sense without the magic, while the magic routine would be lessened without knowing of the character representations. Together they told the 'story'.

In an extended sense, any good routine should flow like a 'story' -- else it is just a disjoined bunch of tricks. The point is that "Story" is not just verbal communication. You might check out my post about Harry Schilling in the "Magicians of Old" forum for an example of a 'silent' performace that told a story.
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KOTAH
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A story also provides meaning and logic for the magic which happens during its telling. The effect is the punctuation mark. IMO

Kotah
necro555
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I had never given much thought to what "patter" really meant. I just presumed it's what you said. Then the book Scripting Magic laid it out for me quite well.
rusty151
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I have to agree with necro555 never gave the word much thought. So I had to look it up, very interesting.I did enjoy the "Scriping Magic" by Eugene Burger you can find this on the web.

Patter http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patter
here it is for story, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Story


Rusty
(a)ndy
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I would agree that a story is more interesting than just 'patter'. However, as touched on above, a story doesn't guarantee interest and it needs to be short and relevant enough to support the magic.

I have seen so many long winded stories that smother the magical effect. A story should provide meaning but nothing more. The story isn't the magic. The story needs to be simple and easily understood. I keep in mind what Doc Dixon when he asks "can it be performed for drunks?".
funsway
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Quote:
On 2009-07-15 09:00, (a)ndy wrote:
The story isn't the magic.


the magic is inside of the spectator and we merely let it out. This can be done by a flashy prop, sleight of hand, an illusion -- or a story that descibes an effect without doing any trick at all. In a college experiment I descibed what was going to happen rather than what actually happened and students were tested on their perceptions. The 'verbal imagery' won out over the 'visual imagery' 62% of the time. For example, if you were to say, "I will now produce a fifty cent piece," and actually produce a quarter instead, flip it around and change it into a nickel, anouncing, "See, now it is a nickel," and pass it out -- most people will swear they saw a fifty cent piece.
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DanielGreenWolf
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Quote:
On 2009-07-15 09:00, (a)ndy wrote:
I would agree that a story is more interesting than just 'patter'. However, as touched on above, a story doesn't guarantee interest and it needs to be short and relevant enough to support the magic.

I have seen so many long winded stories that smother the magical effect. A story should provide meaning but nothing more. The story isn't the magic. The story needs to be simple and easily understood. I keep in mind what Doc Dixon when he asks "can it be performed for drunks?".


Although I partially agree with you, I think it's far too simple a rule under these circumstances.

A story doesn't guarantee interest- Quite true. But a good story does guarantee interest. That's what makes it a "good" story. Amongst other things, but we're speaking of other things on this matter.

The problem with Doc Dixon's quote as you deliver it here is that... not all people are drunks. I know you don't mean that, of course, but why should people always set themselves to perform the lowest common denominator?

Ricky Jay's shows, although often full of magic, are also full of intriguing stories. I could listen to him recite "Booze and the Blowins Cop the Lot" over and over and never see him touch a deck of cards. And he always sells out and always gets great reviews.

And the reason is that there are so many different styles of magic, like any other performance art. Some comedians throw out one-liners, others tell amusing life stories, others point out political idiocy, other play characters... and all are fantastic comedians (well, the good ones of those groups anyway).

I guess my point is that there are magicians who never want to do more than tricks, and there are some greats in that field. There are some who want an involved plot to surround their effects and make the magic an exclamation point on the end of a good story, and there are those greats as well. And there is everyone in between, and there's plenty of greats in that gray area.

Can the story be the magic? Hell Yes.

Does it have to be? Hell No.

The beauty of performance is that there are no rules written in stone. A story doesn't HAVE TO just provide meaning and nothing more... but it can if you want.

And considering you're posting in a forum where the story's the thing, I think you'll find quite a few folks who've made quite a living at stories that were longer than you'd like them to be. And I think that's pretty cool.
-Much love,
Daniel GreenWolf
Celtic Magician

www.GreenWolfMagic.com
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