Barred Window Chords


The Music of Erich Zann by H.P. Lovecraft

A couple of days ago I found the urge to do an illustration featuring violin. Mostly because violin takes up a nice chunk of my time these days. So I racked my brain to think of something I've read that included a violin, and I remembered a wonderful short story by Lovecraft that I lit upon when pouring over a collection of his works.

The story is only about ten or so pages long, so it is hard to explain the booksketch without giving away major points. But I'll try my best not to ruin the story for you, should you want to read it.

A university student in a European city finds a cheap apartment on a strange little street. He meets another one of the residents, a lean, bent old man named Erich Zann, who plays violin in a small cheap theater orchestra nearby during the day and cranks out some eerie/mystifying notes at night.

The student is intrigued and eventually befriends Erich. One evening he gets invited in to Erich's room for a bit. The conversation stops as a distant musical note enters from the curtained window. Erich Zann immediately zones out and breaks out his violin, as if to compete with the approaching ghostly music.

I'm going to stop there. Lovecraft considered this amongst his favorite works produced, and I can see why. While many of his works tend to go overboard in ghastly detail of supernatural (and just plain other-wordly) creatures, The Music of Erich Zann is more subtle, and it strikes an especially eerie note. No pun intended. Ok, maybe a little one.

The illustration above is of Zann playing feverishly to fend off what waits outside his window.

7 comments:

MamaLern said...

Oooo I like this. I pictured Erich as a fat little jewish guy, personally, but I like the creepiness of this sketch. Is this the first Lovecraft sketch on the site?? Hmmmm. Odd.

Burt said...

Haha, it seemed like a good time to produce a Lovecraft illustration.

Right after I decided on this booksketching this story, I had him in my head as an eccentric German maestro, with wild gray hair going off in all directions. Upon going over the description again (prior to illustrating) I rediscovered he was lean and bald and had a satyr-like face.

And I was looking forward to drawing wonky hair!

MamaLern said...

awwww. I know- I like to picture all of Lovecraft's "old guy" characters as either chubby or crazy or both. For example, I like to picture Cthulhu as Gene Shalit with tentacles on his face. This is the general theme except for a few choice protagonists.

You should vow to include crazy hair in your next sketch!

Caitlin said...

I love your watercolor sketches. I might have to read this short story.

And you are one multitalented B. Violin, drums, bass, sketching...

raindog said...

there's really a great energy in this one. love the color. he also looks like a fierce limbo competitor. excellent work.

lucky said...

I love it...
the fierce violin playing...
the flowing curtains...
the wash of color!

Nice!

(And I didn't know you played violin!)

Denise

Muse said...

this is amazing, Burt. I really like the movement and color..