RITMO Seminar Series: Musical Temporality in Theatrical Magic Shows (Jessie Fillerup, Richmond/Aarhus)

Jessie Fillerup, Associate Professor of Music at the University of Richmond and research fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, will give a seminar lecture entitled " Musical Temporality in Theatrical Magic Shows".

Jessie Fillerup


When performing a theatrical illusion, both magicians and neuroscientists attest that timing is key. Music, a longstanding feature of magic shows, helps magicians regulate its temporal aspects, from the rhythm of specific effects to the architectural structure of the show itself. Music also contributes to a technique known as time misdirection, which involves the temporal separation of an effect from its method. A wealth of historical evidence, together with current research in perception and cognition, makes it possible to form theories about how music shaped the spectator’s theatrical experience. My talk will focus on historical and contemporary approaches to the musical temporality of magic shows, considering how musical styles, genres, and structures interact with temporally-focused performance techniques, like patter and time misdirection. I will also suggest possibilities for future research, including studies on entrainment that measure effects on attention and sociality in collective, multimodal contexts.


Jessie Fillerup is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Richmond and a research fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark. She has published articles and essays on French music, opera, and musical temporality and is completing a book titled Magician of Sound: Ravel and the Aesthetics of Illusion. During her fellowship, she is writing a second book, Enchanted: Music and Conjuring in the Long Nineteenth Century, which examines the use of music in theatrical magic shows. Her work has been supported by numerous fellowships and awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation.



Published Jan. 5, 2019 11:39 AM - Last modified Mar. 26, 2020 4:18 PM