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TonyB2009
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Inner circle
5006 Posts

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Here's a question for the guys who do shows. At a number of my recent shows the DJ couldn't play a CD, because they don't seem to use them any more. They all wanted the music on an ipod. And I won't support Apple by buying one of those blasted things. So I have done a number of shows without any music. And it doesn't seem to make any difference. The shows all went very well.

In fact, I prefer to do them this way. I am tone deaf, and don't enjoy music on any level, so I am quite happy not to have it in my show. Has anyone else had experience of doing shows without music? What do you think of the idea?

In the end I will probably just vastly reduce the amount of music I use, but keep it for some routines. But I find it liberating that I can go into a venue with nothing but a microphone.
Mindpro
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I had to do one gig without music when the venue lost power. You are right in that the routines can still play fine, but to me having music, beds, sfx, intro's and more create another layer to the dynamics and theatrics of the performance, both to the on-stage subjects and the audience. To me music and sound works on both levels at the same time. It can heighten drama, suspense, and especially comedy.

I always run my own music ether live or by remote if I'm not traveling with my own soundman, and always use my own sound system. Even if I'm in a nice theater or major fair or festival with concert sound, I still use my own on stage rig and simply patch into the house system. I also really prefer to have monitors which many venues, especially with DJs don't have.

To me most DJs are music spinners not true audio engineers. I never leave something so important to me and my act up to anyone. I think using just a mic can be done fine, but not with the same dynamic and experience for the audience.
Dannydoyle
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Eternal Order
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Can it be done? Of course it can. I think it is a poor choice in my view is all. This is simply an opinion.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
bobser
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Here's my opinion Tony.
I think as a professional entertainer of audiences the absolutely very last thing I should be thinking about is what MY views are as opposed to the majority of said audiences.
This is simply right. You know it is. Be big and write back telling the world you've read my words and they're very very clever and you're now willing to change.
We have to be willing to change in this world and be big about it. Do this or I shan't talk to you ever again.
Bob Burns is the creator of The Swan.
Ray Pierce
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Los Angeles, CA
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Tony,

I understand your dilemma and there are several solutions for it. First, from a practical standpoint, yes it is good to know that you can do an act without music in an emergency. A pro has to play the cards they're dealt from time to time. On the other hand a pro knows how to take control of variables that could possibly fail as well.

I greatly dislike trusting something as important as music cues to a random DJ. Some are very helpful and some more worthless as far as cueing a theatrical show. If they can play an iPod that means they have an 1/8" stereo jack that can be plugged into anything. If you are set on using a CD you can buy a small battery-powered CD player very inexpensively now and have them plug into that. There are many better solutions that are MP3 players not from Apple if you don't want to support them. The advantage to an MP3 player is they are typically solid-state with no moving parts. There is nothing to wear out and once loaded with music not much to go wrong. There are obviously a full range of remote systems that are well advertised for the magic market and are a very valuable tool for a one-man show.

The larger question is just because you CAN do a show without music does that make the show as good? We add production value such as music, lighting, costuming, scenic elements, props and other things to increase the value of our show. It's not because we must use them for every effect but because it typically makes the show better. If you have looked at it objectively and concluded that the music doesn't add one bit of production quality or value to the show, then it is your choice to kill the music and do it without. We are all faced with choices daily that adjust the value of our performance. I know certain things I am willing to compromise on that the audience might not see and other things I don't like to compromise on because it affects the quality of the show. These choices are what separate one performer from another in the marketplace.

Rather than giving up on the music I would think you could find some options that give you more control over your environment for the next situation. It doesn't need to be as complex as bringing your own complete sound system, but at the very least having something that is very simple to patch in to the DJ system which would work in most scenarios.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
dmkraig
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I agree with Danny and Bobser. Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be done.

By the way, did you also complain when they couldn't play 45 RPM records and insisted on CDs? Are you still carrying around those old Edison Cylinders?

Like the dinosaur, if you don't evolve, you die.
TonyB2009
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I am a bit mystified that this has been moved from the hypnosis forum - where it belongs - to somewhere else, but I appreciate the input from everyone. I have taken the precaution now of buying a portable CD player, but some venues run everything from a laptop, so that won't be a universal solution. I also bring along a memory stick with the show on it. Thanks for all the technical advice, Ray.

I understand how music is one of the elements that enhances a show - even if, as a tone deaf performer, it does nothing for me. But I often find that when we remove something from a show, it stimulates our creativity. One of the shows without music also featured a small audience in a big empty auditorium. A few years ago it would have been a nightmare gig. But I had half an hour to think out my approach, and it was a great gig. Having music that night would not have enhanced anyone's experience. Thinking back, that is actually true of two of the shows. It forced me to do things differently, and to evolve as a performer as a result.

As an comparison, when I removed props from my kids act, I discovered my performing style and my show improved dramatically. That's why I was curious had anyone else tried a show without music.
Ken Northridge
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Atlantic City, NJ
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I rely heavily on music and sound effects for my show. So much so that I insist on using my own sound system for every show because of the number of miss cues and fowl ups I’ve had when the sound guy wants to ‘help.’ I also have three back up plans for my music including my old cassette tapes and remote control system.

About a year ago, in a twist of fate, both of my systems broke down and I had just cleaned out my car and did not put the cassette tape system back in it. I was forced to do the show without my trusty music, and since this was a new customer that had never seen my show, I decided not to say anything about it. It was awkward but I did it and even got a tip!

So, to answer you question, music is not necessary, but I think it adds so much to the overall performance.
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
www.KenNorthridge.com
Shrubsole
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Kent, England
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I have an old laptop that holds all my stuff and plays it. I then have every connector and adaptor known to man to plug into their amplifier on the rare occasions that I don't take my PA. I don't take my PA when it's a local gig and I know who I'm on with and how good their sound system is and space available. I know most people around my area and can trust some people who I have worked with before and who have PAs upto the job.

Having OCD, I also have copies of my show stuff on CD in CD format, on CD in mp3 format, a person CD player that plays both formats, on minidisc (a lot of musicians favour this format for some reason and if I'm on with a singer, that's the one to go with), and I also have the full show stuff on one of those USB memory sticks.

Overkill maybe but I've been around long enough to have had that CD just refuse to play and that other device go 'pop' just as I turned it on.

My OCD is so bad I even have a full backup disk of the laptop's hard drive and yes, one night before the show, when for some reason the laptop wouldn't boot up at all, I did a full reinstall of windows before the show and got it all up and running again.
Winner of the Dumbringer Award for total incompetence. (All years)
Ray Pierce
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Oh, I have my share of backups as well! In addition, when I was using CDs I would make sure and carry one backup with my personal close one with one of the dancers and one in my wardrobe trunk that went to the dressing room just in case one got lost or didn't make it to the theater!

Tony, I do understand what you're saying with forcing yourself to be creative in certain situations. I've often said that at the Magic Castle in Hollywood you can see how good a producer someone is when they work in the palace... But you see how good a magician they are when they work in the parlor without all of the music and production value to surround them. It is one of the reasons I enjoy working that room the most because it forces me to strip away all of the dressing and focus just on doing good strong magic. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the trappings of a show and lose sight of the core techniques that make us good. I think situations like this are great test of our abilities.

On the other hand, my ultimate goal is to provide the very best entertainment value for that particular audience... not just to prove to myself how good I am at my job. If that means doing a show with no music or doing a show with more production value all that matters to me is what will make the most entertaining show for that audience. I know different performers at different price points have different things that they can offer for show. I obviously cannot afford to bring in a 80 piece orchestra even if it would make the show better. I DO want to do anything within my budget to make sure all the money is on the stage where it can be seen and appreciated. Again, these are all choices we have to make depending on our budget and profit margin, and how we make these choices governs our success or failure in the field.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
Avocat
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Personally, adding music, lighting control, having your own sound system or microphone ... these are things that I believe add value because it makes the performer look more professional, prepared and price-worthy.

We know it takes years to assemble the skills necessary to put on a worthwhile show. The audience/customers do not, at least not on any meaningful, gut level.

So while I imagine many of us could put on an hour-long show working just from our pockets, the PERCEPTION might be that we're just fooling around, like their uncles who do magic but at a slightly higher skill level.

But when we put on a show with music, we're distinguishing ourselves from their amateur magician uncles. We're actual professional, well rehearsed and polished - the use of music is a subtle reminder of the level of preparation we've put into the act.

It's a hard thing to put into words, but basically we want to appear as if we've put a lot of work into presenting the best show possible. And while the show itself should appear effortless, there should still be some indication that we're worth what we charge.

Bottom line, I think music shows the customer that you're well-rehearsed and prepared. And being able to interface with any other sound system out there shows you're even MORE well-rehearsed and prepared, exactly the kind of guy they want to keep hiring back.

I actually used to keep a collection of various plugs and wires, so I could input my music into a 1/8", 1/4" mono, RCA stereo, even an XLR microphone jack. That, in addition to traveling with my own Fender PD-250 (which would stay in the car if I thought the DJ or venue had a better system).

Musically yours,

Jim Kawashima
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