I’ve played in pit orchestras for a lot of musicals, and my one universal across the board criticism of them is that none are adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories (There actually is one, but it’s *ugh* a parody).
This week I have decided to be the spooky change that I want to see in the world by writing the opening number to a musical adaptation of Lovecraft’s short story “The Music of Erich Zann”.
The story is about a college student who gets an apartment underneath a viol player who plays weird music every night to appease some horrible power. He gets to know the guy, spooky things happen, the nature of existence is in questioned, and exc. It holds up well, it’s super short, and you can read it here.
It’s a lesser-known work, but Lovecraft claimed that he was the most proud of it. There is something evocative about an artist who creates not to please audiences or gain them fame, but to fend of some kind of darkness. I’m sure Lovecraft, troubled as he was, could relate to that sentiment.
Here is the rough sketch of the opening number of my (soon to be) hit musical ZANN!
Credits: Me. I unfortunately play all the parts.
Note: The collage student/main character is nameless in the short story. I named him Edward.
(Edward walks onstage in front of the curtain)
Edward: I have examined maps of the city with the greatest care, yet have never again found the Rue d’Auseil. These maps have not been modern maps alone, for I know that names change. I have, on the contrary, delved deeply into all the antiquities of the place; and have personally explored every region, of whatever name, which could possibly answer to the street I knew as the Rue d’Auseil. But despite all I have done it remains an humiliating fact that I cannot find the house, the street, or even the locality, where, during the last months of my impoverished life as a student of metaphysics at the university, I heard the music of Erich Zann.
(Curtain opens to reveal a tall building. The Landlord stands outside waiting for Edward and Erich Zann stands in the top floor window.)
Landlord: Why hello there, you must be Edward.
Edward: Uh, yes. Hello, thank you for meeting me so late into the evening.
Landlord: BAH! What is evening to those who cannot sleep?!
Erich Zann: High up, cold air from my window. Look at all the people, never knowing fear.
Edward: This is such an intriguing building.
Landlord: Well, it’s one of a kind!
Erich Zann: Somewhere, underneath this city, an all-consuming darkness, swallower of time.
Edward: It’s so close to the university.
Landlord: We are practically neighbors!
Erich Zann: I play, accompany in dismay alien bells ringing, ancient voices singing, rupturing the air.
Edward: Well, this seems perfect, but I’m afraid I don’t have much of a budget for lodging…
Landlord: Ah, well there is always the 5th floor…
Edward: Is there some problem with the 5th floor?
Landlord: Oh absolutely nothing… if you don’t mind music. There is a musician on the floor above and he practices from 1 to 6… *ahem* am that is. You can hear him now, listen.
Erich Zann: Nightly, I can feel its presence, fostering my madness, making me insane.
Edward: What an otherworldly music!
Erich Zann: Lately, it has gotten stronger. I cannot contain it, worming in by brain!
Landlord: Haha, Quite! He’s a real mad genius that Erich…
Clock tower: Eins!
Townsfolk: Up the hill on Rue d’Auseil, you hear the madman’s viol play. So weak and frail, a cosmic pawn, the music of one Erich Zann.
Erich Zann: High up, cold air from my window. Look at all the people, they do not know fear.
Edward: I really will not mind the music.
Erich Zann: Somewhere, underneath this city, an all-consuming darkness, harbinger of DEATH!
Landlord: I’ll just need your signature here and here.
Edward: Very well.
Erich Zann: My eyes dilate in shadow, sawing notes with my bow quivering in fear.
Edward: I must meet this Erich Zann…
Erich Zann: I can… I cannot continue, every night is torture, draining me of life.
Edward: His music is so peculiar…
Erich Zann: I pray that some day soon my hearing…
Edward: It sounds like…
Erich and Edward: Alien bells ringing, ancient voices singing…
Edward: So pleasant to my…
Erich Zann: Will rupture both my…
Erich and Edward: Ears.
Clock tower: Drei!
Clock tower: Funf!
YIKES! I know something is good when I oscillate between incredibly proud and cripplingly embarrassed while listening to it. Happy Halloween!