Friday, 28 January 2011

Transcription: The Music of Eric Zahn Findings

After analysing the body of work, and finding the excerpts describing the different elements of the text. I decided to create a list to better guide me through my research.


Young Man/ Narrator: 

  • Student of Metaphysics at the University 
  • Friendly

I have found not much was said about the appearance of the narrator, however to better fit the story I will related his appearance to the time the story is set in the 1920's. 

Eric Zahn: 

'An old German viol- player, a strange old man [...] who played evenings in a cheap theater orchestra' 

First Appearance:
  • Small, lean, bent person, with shabby clothes, blue eyes,wrinkled grotesque satyr-like face, nearly bald head and mute with long bony hands

Final Appearance: 

  • Still , Ice-Cold, Stiffened, Unbreathing Face whose glassy bulged uselessly into the void.

  • Old, Lonely, Nervous, Afraid, Temperamental, a Genius, Mysterious.

Alongside this accurate description of the character I will create 2 profile sheets, where I may add some other character details.


For the environments, though I will use a minimalist yet theatrical approach to them, I felt the need to understand the world where the story is set, because it is one of its main influences. For the descriptions of the environments, I used the original description, with extra details and an accurate vision of the place. One of the reasons I love to read HP Lovecraft.

Rue D'Auseil:

"The Rue d’Auseil lay across a dark river bordered by precipitous brick blear-windowed warehouses and spanned by a ponderous bridge of dark stone. It was always shadowy along that river, as if the smoke of neighbouring factories shut out the sun perpetually. The river was also odorous with evil stenches which I have never smelled elsewhere, and which may some day help me to find it, since I should recognize them at once. Beyond the bridge were narrow cobbled streets with rails; and then came the ascent, at first gradual, but incredibly steep as the Rue d’Auseil was reached.

I have never seen another street as narrow and steep as the Rue d’Auseil. It was almost a cliff, closed to all vehicles, consisting in several places of flights of steps, and ending at the top in a lofty ivied wall. Its paving was irregular, sometimes stone slabs, sometimes cobblestones, and sometimes bare earth with struggling greenish-grey vegetation. The houses were tall, peaked-roofed, incredibly old, and crazily leaning backward, forward, and sidewise. Occasionally an opposite pair, both leaning forward, almost met across the street like an arch; and certainly they kept most of the light from the ground below. There were a few overhead bridges from house to house across the street."

Boarding House: Exterior:

"[It was the]third house from the top of the street, and by far the tallest of them all. [And the] room was on the fifth story; the only inhabited room there, since the house was almost empty."

Eric Zahn's Room:

"His room, one of only two in the steeply pitched garret, was on the west side, toward the high wall that formed the upper end of the street. Its size was very great, and seemed the greater because of its extraordinary barrenness and neglect. Of furniture there was only a narrow iron bedstead, a dingy wash-stand, a small table, a large bookcase, an iron music-rack, and three old-fashioned chairs. Sheets of music were piled in disorder about the floor. The walls were of bare boards, and had probably never known plaster; whilst the abundance of dust and cobwebs made the place seem more deserted than inhabited." 

Landscape seen from Eric Zahn's Room Window:

"It was very dark, but the city’s lights always burned, and I expected to see them there amidst the rain and wind. Yet when I looked from that highest of all gable windows, looked while the candles sputtered and the insane viol howled with the night-wind, I saw no city spread below, and no friendly lights gleamed from remembered streets, but only the blackness of space illimitable; unimagined space alive with motion and music, and having no semblance of anything on earth."


The music in this story plays a important part so I found crucial to understand the type played, and the variations felt throughout the story. Overall I could identify 4 variations of music, at least the ones which play a important part in the narrative. Meanwhile, I have been looking for artists, such as
Niccolo Paganini, that could be featured in this animation. But I will leave that for another post.

Music Type 1: 

"To describe their exact nature is impossible for one unversed in music. They were a kind of fugue, with recurrent passages of the most captivating quality, but to me were notable for the absence of any of the weird notes I had overheard from my room below on other occasions."
  • Calmer
  • Fugue
  • Captivating

Music Type 2:

"Then one night as I listened at the door, I heard the shrieking viol swell into a chaotic babel of sound; a pandemonium which would have led me to doubt my own shaking sanity had there not come from behind that barred portal a piteous proof that the horror was real—the awful, inarticulate cry which only a mute can utter, and which rises only in moments of the most terrible fear or anguish."
  • Chaotic Babel of Sound
  • Pandemonium
  • Awful
  • Inarticulate cry
  • Rose moments of the most terrible fear and anguish

Music Type 3: 

"It was more horrible than anything I had ever overheard, because I could now see the expression of his face, and could realize that this time the motive was stark fear. He was trying to make a noise; to ward something off or drown something out—what, I could not imagine, awesome though I felt it must be. The playing grew fantastic, dehnous, and hysterical, yet kept to the last the qualities of supreme genius which I knew this strange old man possessed. I recognized the air—it was a wild Hungarian dance popular in the theaters, and I reflected for a moment that this was the first time I had ever heard Zann play the work of another composer."
  • More horrible than ever before
  • Fearful 
  • the playing grew fantastic, dehnous, and hysterical.
  • A wild Hungarian Dance popular in the theatres
  • Song from another composer

Music Type 4:

"I looked at Zann, and saw that he was past conscious observation. His blue eyes were bulging, glassy and sightless, and the frantic playing had become a blind, mechanical, unrecognizable orgy that no pen could even suggest."
  • Supernatural
  • Horrific
  • Insane
  • unimaginable to compose
  • blind

On the next post I will go through the narrative order, so it will help me when doing the storyboards and the script.

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