I know there would be some types of performances in the magical world that would require magic -- such as any dramatic production that used what we call FX. So I am not asking about that kind of creative work.

Is there an indication that artists in the magical world tend to use magic as an integral part of their creative process? For example, do musicians play by developing and learning muscle memory, the way we muggles do? Or do writers use magic to help them with plot and character development, or do they do it by creating the stories themselves?

I'm not talking about incidental use of magic, such as a magical pen that would essentially take dictation by writing down what the owner says.

I'm talking about using the music as part of the process or to replace the creative process, such as a concert pianist who just waves his wand and sits there while the piano plays, or someone like, say, Gilderoy Lockhart, who may not be a good writer, so he uses some type of spell to make the words flow more easily.

I'm sure, if we dig into every last corner of the wizarding world and if J.K. Rowling were to give us a world as detailed as our own, we would find a small percentage who use only magic to replace talent, so I'm curious about the overall situation.

In other words, from what we've seen, do artists in the magical world (in general) rely on their own creativity, or do they need to use magic as a crutch to create the works they publish?

  • 3
    Is there any evidence that Lockhart wasn't a good writer?
    – Dason
    Jun 12, 2012 at 12:03
  • 1
    @Dason I'd be surprised if there was. It seems like his main (only) skills would be his ability to wipe somebody's memory (assuming he's not using a broken wand) and his ability to tell a damn good story. Jun 12, 2012 at 13:05
  • @AnthonyGrist That was my thought as well. TangoOversway implies that he might not be a good writer though and I didn't see any evidence that would imply he was a bad writer.
    – Dason
    Jun 12, 2012 at 16:28
  • I started to love this question until it turned to the "replace talent with magic" point of view. That feels like cheating on the creative process. But I would love the idea that magical artists use magic in their creative process in a supportive way, something that makes them even more creative (instead of replacing their creativity or the lack of it).
    – n611x007
    Jun 20, 2012 at 11:20
  • 1
    It would be fascinating to cast a spell and watch Magic express itself.
    – n611x007
    Jun 20, 2012 at 21:40

5 Answers 5


I personally cannot find a reference to magical artistry in canon that meets your parameters.

The closest example I found of using magic to produce art comes from Tales of Beedle the Bard.

In TBTB, Dumbledore participates in a Hogwarts production/dramatization of The Fountain of Fair Fortune by conjuring the stage props of the fountain and the hill.

Our then Herbology master, Professor Herbert Beery, an enthusiastic devotee of amateur dramatics, proposed an adaptation of this well-beloved children’s tale as a Yuletide treat for staff and students.

I was then a young Transfiguration teacher, and Herbert assigned me to “special effects”, which included providing a fully functioning Fountain of Fair Fortune and a miniature grassy hill, up which our three heroines and hero would appear to march, while it sank slowly into the stage and out of sight.

I think I may say, without vanity, that both my Fountain and my Hill performed the parts allotted to them with simple goodwill.

Tales of Beedle the Bard - pages 73-74 - Collector's Edition - The Fountain of Fair Fortune

I even checked all the references to The Weird Sisters and Celestina Warbeck to see if magic was used in their music, but I couldn't find any examples where it did.

  • Hmm, the Durmstrang entrnace in GoF was very... artistic. And lethal. But still, art.
    – thegoose
    Apr 14, 2014 at 21:19
  • 1
    @thegoose How so? Karkaroff wanted to get his favourite pupil into the castle rather quickly (slight cold iirc), but other than that their entrance was not that spectacluar, apart from the fact that the ship rose up out of the lake. That waving staffs around and stamping them on the ground was only a movie invention after all.
    – BMWurm
    Nov 24, 2014 at 13:33

Counting the books and movies as canon, no, at least not definitively.

The closest we come is the opinion of Dumbledore that music is, in and of itself magic,("Ah, music! A magic beyond all we do here!" - HP and the Philosopher's Stone) which could be interpreted several ways. You could interpret that as meaning that the beauty of music, and the inherent creativity required to make good music is a form of magic, but personally, I think he meant it figuratively, or even the opposite of what you're asking.

It seems to make more sense that he is stating that music is completely separate from "real" magic, and that it's something that true magic has no hope of creating or comparing to.

Of course, it's possible I'm unaware of a J.K.R quote on the matter, but using the books and the movies as primary canon, there is nothing...

...unless you count Rita's Quick-Quotes Quill. Even with that, there's a question on whether the quill was making up stories of its own, or if it was merely writing what Rita was thinking.

  • 1
    +1 for Rita Skeeter's quill. It clearly supplements her creative process, even if it's only writing what she's thinking.
    – Valorum
    Nov 23, 2014 at 18:39
  • Rita licks it before she sets it to work, so it seems to be guided by her instead of having its own will - after all it is just a quill, not a horcrux like the diary, which truly did act independently (even if still guided by the original intent of its creator).
    – BMWurm
    Nov 24, 2014 at 13:36

Depending on your point of view, there are many examples of magic used in the creative process of art. This answer considers the definition of art to be

[MASS NOUN] The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Source: Oxford American Dictionary

Photography, in my opinion, is definitely a form of art. Many people today use photographs as a simple visual chronicle, but there are still many photographers invested in their craft for primarily artistic reasons.

The animated photographs of the wizarding world are an enhancement over 'muggle' photography and it could be argued provide for greater artistic expression than still photographs. However, I will attempt to frame the rest of this answer without that argument, as it would mirror an argument on whether cinema or still-photography is more artistic.

Instead, I will attempt to prove that the magic itself of the wizarding photographs allows for artistic expression in that part of the process.

The first part of this is fairly straightforward. We can see that the animation of the photo comes from the development process by the fact that Colin Creevy uses a 35mm muggle camera to obtain moving photographs. Also, Colin clearly states that the animation depends on using developing potion to occur.

"and a boy in my dormitory said if I develop the film in the right potion, the pictures'll move."

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets page 96

Secondly, even a cursory glimpse of the history of 'muggle' photographic film will show that the development process is equally important to the production of a quality, artistic photograph as the other elements of photography (e.g. lighting, composition, film stock, exposure, focus etc. etc. See also Photo.SE). This has been somewhat diminished by the rise of point-and-shoot cameras, commercial film development and the other aspects of home/consumer photography, and further diminished by the rise of digital photography.

However, the existence of the developing potion proves that wizarding photographs still use the analog, solution-based development process. Also, the many scenes and discussions of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Snape (and others) in potions class has clearly taught that the creation of potions is an exacting process, where the potency and nature of the potion produced depends highly upon the skill and decisions of the potion maker. Snape's numerous annotations in his potions book from Half-Blood Prince further show that the potion making is at the least a science with great room for improvements by gifted individuals, if not an outright art form.

That means that taking and developing moving photographs is a highly artistic process that closely depends on the application of magic. Photographs are a form of visual expression very capable of capturing or expressing beauty. And potion making, I would venture, is an application of skill whose results are unmatched in their emotional power: consider the love potion. Even if there is a commercially available supply of developing potion, there is no evidence to suggest that even a novice photographer could not find as much chance for artistic application in the use of magic as in the rest of the aspects of photography.

To sum up:

  • Photography is an art.
  • Potion making is an art.
  • Potion making is used in the making of moving photographs.
  • Potion making is magic.
  • Q.E.D. magic is used in the art of moving photographs.

There are no specific references to this as far as I am aware. However, it would seem likely. Wizard muscians are unlike to be able to use electronic amps etc so would probably have magical equivilants designed to enhance the music they make. Generally it seems like magic can do most things if you have talent and practice, it is a skill which can augment other skills.

There are probably also magical instruments made by goblins or whatever which further enhance the sounds.

I doubt that there would be a conductor conducting a bunch of instruments with his wand (like a full orchestra with instruments and no people), it would probably be done in a way which is optimised for the magical aspect and fits in with the tradition of the performers.

  • That's not part of the creative process it's part of the performance. It's not what was asked. Jun 13, 2012 at 22:41
  • Oh yeah, good point
    – Stefan
    Jun 13, 2012 at 22:45
  • It's not canon, but I've read a series of fanfics in which the Hogwarts Gilbert & Sullivan Society performed a G&S opera each year, with Dumbledore as musical director conducting a magical orchestra with no human performers. Harry, of course, played the lead role on stage.
    – Wallnut
    Dec 2, 2016 at 9:39

I don't know how much you view the Harry Potter video games as canon, but in the video game version of Philosopher's Stone, we are told that Muggle Studies actually has lessons on Muggle Art and Muggle Music. In the video game adaptation of Chamber of Secrets, we are told that Hogwarts offers a Wizarding Art and Wizarding Music classes as well. This could be interpreted to mean that Wizarding Art/Music are indeed performed differently than Muggle Art/Music.

Considering the games do occasionally differ drastically from the revealed plot of the books/movies for the sake of adding a fun minigame/action sequence, you may choose to take the inclusion of those classes with a grain of salt. I could not find any other references to how Art or Music are performed in the Wizarding world, or how it may differ from the Muggle world. We do see the Hogwarts "Frog Choir," conducted by Filius Flitwick, perform various musical pieces in the movie adaptations, but it is unclear whether their performance involves magic or not.

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