“Andre Malraux said, ‘You are not what you show; you are what you hide.’ This is a blog for magicians who regard the art of magic, and how its history is still an important element of that art.” —Jim
DOUG HENNING’S BUMP BOWS
You’re hearing less than one minute and thirty seconds of music, but it very may stir some memories. It’s called “Bump Bows,” and it was the short composition that closed Doug Henning’s touring stage show for many years.
It certainly stirs my memories.
Doug’s music was composed by the remarkable Peter Matz. (When Doug played in Los Angeles and New York, Peter Matz stood in the orchestra pit and conducted the orchestra.) Peter was an amazing composer and arranger, who was famous for his work with Barbara Streisand. He had composed the music for all of Doug’s shows except the very first television special. And there’s an important story in that. The composer of that first show was Arthur B. Rubinstein—not the concert pianist but the film and television composer. For that special, Rubinstein created a march called “Things that Go Bump in the Night,” which always accompanied Doug’s famous illusion with the big cube, the three “bumps” that were mysteriously produced, and the sensational surprise at the end, a tiger filling the empty box.
“Bump” almost always closed the show. Doug used Rubinstein’s music for this illusion, and Peter Matz loved the “Bump” theme. For the tours, Peter Matz arranged this short piece called “Bump Bows,” which used the famous theme of Arthur B. Rubinstein, turning it into an energetic, carnival melody. You didn’t hear this music on television, just in the touring show.
When you saw Doug live, this was the music playing as you were clapping. Maybe as you were standing up. The tiger was produced, there was a long drumroll, a climax to the Bump march, and then, as the curtain came down on the tiger in the box, the “Bump Bows” started, and the dancers came back onstage for their final bows, followed by Doug.
At the end of the music, you’ll hear another drumroll, and then Peter Matz’s distinctive five-note signature for Doug’s show, which was the music that the audience had first heard when Doug was produced at the beginning of the show, bursting through the Fire Hoop that had been suspended above the stage.
For me, it was always an especially happy theme, because it meant the end of the show. When I heard the start of the “Bump Bows,” I would often be in the front of the theater, watching the show from the back of the aisle. I’d quickly gather my notes and push my way outside, before any of the rest of the audience. I’d go around to the stage door and then backstage to talk to the crew or Doug. When I got there, the “Bump Bows” were often still playing through the monitor and I could see the end of the bows from the wings. The trick was always a miracle. The audiences always loved it, and the music was a very happy, joyful experience. It made you proud to be associated with a show like that and a star like that.
I had this music on an audio cassette; it was put together as a collection of dance music in the show, so that the dancers could take, play it in a boom box in the rehearsal studio, and rehearse their steps.
I remember once, during a rehearsal for one of Doug’s tours, I was standing onstage with Doug as he was going through the beats of the opening number, his production. As he acted it out, he began humming the music, and when he got to the five-note signature, he quietly sang, “Here… comes… Doug… Hen… ning.” I was just close enough to hear it, and I looked at him and laughed. “I didn’t know that those were the lyrics,” I told him. Doug started laughing as well, slightly embarrassed that he’d been caught. “Well, yeah…. I just figured that’s what the lyrics should be,” he said.