Composing Magic with Woody Aragon
January 2nd, 2020
art, audience, card magic, closeup, community, creation, emotion, performance, theory
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To kick off the new magic year, Jonah sits down with Woody Aragon to discuss developing taste, resonating with an audience, and expressing a message through your magic. Woody is viewed as one of the most important modern card magicians, known for his contribution to stack work.
Woody jokes that he came out of themwomb loving magic. He can’t recall a time when he was a layperson even though, where he grew up in Spain, there wasn’t a magic scene. Because access to magic knowledge was difficult, his formative years were spent recording and analyzing Tamariz performances. Eventually, he gained access to books and the Spanish magic community.
While magic may currently be his profession, it wasn’t really an option for him growing up. Woody’s family, having not come from the arts, wanted him to do something more practical than “magician,” so he took up a job in the video game industry and, eventually, worked as a composer. His career as a magician didn’t begin until he started to win magic competitions, leading to other magicians booking him for shows. Realizing magic could sustain his lifestyle, Woody pursued his dream.
Magicians have a tendency to kill the feeling of magic as they don’t take in the external life of a trick. While lectures and books are great for learning, they fail to let you experience the effects for what they are. So, to truly develop a taste, Woody recommends watching the audience. Observe when they laugh. When they’re shocked. When they’re excited. Little by little you’ll develop a taste for what excites an audience.
The Subtext of Magic
Through your art you are creating something that expresses what you have inside of you. If you over analyze what and how you want to express yourself, you will lose it. Choose the effects and patter that feel natural to who you are. Behind every trick you perform is a message whether you acknowledge it or not.
Structure & Composition
Knowing the difference between structure and composition is a useful tool for magicians to know. Structure applies to what the audience doesn’t see; the secret moves necessary to create the desired effect. Composition applies to what the spectator sees. Together these two aspects affect how the spectator observes and feels about the performance. For a deeper insight into Structure & Composition, you can read the essay in Woody’s A Book in English.
Tamariz & Spain
Tamariz was like a father to Woody; he was generous in sharing with Woody, teaching him everything he knows about magic. And therein lies the secret, Woody explains, the sharing of knowledge. Spain is about sharing and being open with magic. Whether new or veterans, magicians in Spain gather together to share and collaborate on effects, creating a dynamic that influences the progress of magic. When Woody enters other communities, he’s often disappointed by the lack of sharing between the older and younger generations.
What do you like about modern magic? What don’t you like?
Magic is always great!
Take Home Point
How do you feel when you perform magic? How do you express that feeling to the audience. What do you want to do with this feeling?