Tag Archives: supernatural music

Phantom of the Music

Phantom of the Opera   by Gaston Leroux  (1911)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 29, 2015

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In the kingdom of phantoms, ghosts, and the shadowy depths, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux remains one of the most memorable and popular ghostly thrillers of all time. Even today this novel is still on the Amazon’s Kindle best seller list (#77 as of 9-27-15; buy here on Amazon.com for only 99 cents). Theatrical superstitions, ghostly apparitions, and the mystery of the music are a powerful combination for fiction. Published in 1911, Leroux was inspired to write this story after visiting a Paris opera house when a chandelier fell on the audience in 1896. Actor Lon Chaney starred in the film in 1924 and the life of this novel went on to film and Broadway audiences and is still running at full speed at the Majestic Theatre in New York.

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Our story begins at the Paris opera house with the Prologue’s opening line “The opera ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination …”

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Most of us know the story of the phantom hiding his face behind a mask and how he falls in love with the beauty Christine Daae. This singer is in love with Raoul, Vicomte De Chagny. A triangular love affair mixes with passion, jealousy, revenge, possession, and the pain of loneliness.

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The New York Times Book Review called it  “The wildest and most fantastic of tales.”  And so it is.

Read the FREE novel Phantom of the Opera at the LiteratureProject.com.

Listen to the Librivox dramatic recording at Librivox.com

 

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Leroux wrote other stories. His first story was The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1907). A “locked room” mystery. Mademoiselle Stangerson retires to bed in the Yellow Room. Suddenly revolver shots echo through the house and she screams for help. Her father and a servant run to the locked room where they find the wounded girl – alone. The only other exit, a barred window.

Read  The Mystery of the Yellow Room at OnlineLiterature.com

The Secret of the Night (1914) is  another short novel about a journalist in Russia who partly resembles Inspector DuPin (Poe) and Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle).

Read The Secret of the Night at OnlineLiterature.com

 

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As a reader and a writer I love the idea of supernatural music, demons, angels, music phantoms. The idea of ghostly presences lurking among the melody and notes draws me in immediately. Many of you are aware my own supernatural musical mystery is about to launch in October. GREYLOCK has just a hint of flavor of Phantom of the Opera.  Here’s an early review:

“Echoing notes of Phantom of the Opera, mixed with Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe, and Peter Straub’s Ghost StoryGreylock is a thrilling musical tragedy steeped in lore, mythology, and the madness of composition, leading to a crescendo of epic proportions. Paula Cappa is a gifted author, and this book will have you swooning in the aisles.” —Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration.

 

More early reviews to come … when the leaves fall … GREYLOCK

 

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The Devil Prefers the Sonata in G Minor

The Devil’s Trill,   Giuseppe Tartini (1769)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 15, 2015

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Come meet Giuseppe Tartini, the devil’s son, in the city of Padua, Italy. Giuseppe lived from 1692 to 1770 and is remembered famously for his violin Sonata in G Minor, known as The Devil’s Trill. Besides Giuseppe’s technical skills and the poetic qualities of his music, he is revered  as the godfather of modern violinists. He produced 200 sonatas and concertos but not a single one is comparable to The Devil’s Trill or as famous. Here is his true story as told to French astronomer Jerome Lalande and published in the Voyage d’un Français en Italie in 1769.

“One night I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I desired: my new servant anticipated my every wish. I had the idea of giving him my violin to see if he might play me some pretty tunes, but imagine my astonishment when I heard a sonata so unusual and so beautiful, performed with such mastery and intelligence, on a level I had never before conceived was possible. I was so overcome that I stopped breathing and woke up gasping. Immediately I seized my violin, hoping to recall some shred of what I had just heard; but in vain. The piece I then composed is without a doubt my best, and I still call it “The Devil’s Sonata,” but it falls so far short of the one that stunned me that I would have smashed my violin and given up music forever if I could but have possessed it.”

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Some say it’s just legend. Some say this is a fiction. Some believe that dreams bring us to unknown worlds, just as music does, and that Giuseppe  was touched by the devil when he composed and played this sonata. The sonata is said to have no autograph on the sheet music written in Tartini’s hand.

And what about Paganini? Did he sell his soul to the devil to master the violin? That story is for another Tuesday.

If you like short stories about supernatural music, here is one that will strike the perfect note.

The Music of Erich Zann by H. P. Lovecraft.

Erich Zann is a Renaissance viol-player and a mute with a wrinkled satyr-like face. He lives in the one-windowed garret of the peaked boarding house on the Rue d’Auseil and every night plays his music. Our narrator in this story is a university student of metaphysics. The city is probably Paris, but the name  is not confirmed. The student takes a room in the boarding house on the Rue d’ Auseil, which is a steep and narrow street, a cliff actually that lies beyond the dark river, beyond the bridge made of dark stone—a perfect metaphor for the edge of madness that defines the story.

Read The Music of Erich Zann at HPLovcraft.com.

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Listen to the audio, read by Mike Bennett at YouTube.com

 

 

For you film fans, watch John Strysik’s adaptation in two parts (total time 17 minutes):

Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeMNDhTWJ-o

Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqQWrZFHouA

Oh, and one more thing—while we are talking supernatural music from the other side—do keep in mind  my supernatural thriller about the dark powers of music, Greylock. Release in October.

Pianist Alexei Georg harbors a dark secret—he finds an old Russian sonata in a 19th-century sea chest. When Alexei plays this handsome music, a creature of darkness appears in the audience, in the aisle, and on the stage with him. This is no ghost.

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GREYLOCK … coming soon …

when the leaves fall.

 

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Dark Magic of Music

Music parallels the occult.

Can the notes we hear lead us into a dark abyss? Composer and music critic E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1882, known as “Ghost Hoffmann”) recognized the mysterious forces in music.  You might remember his name from his opera The Nutcracker. Hoffmann believed that music can “open to man an unknown realm.”  In his famous essay “Beethoven’s Instrumental Music” Hoffmann writes that while Mozart’s music evokes the super-human, Beethoven’s music brings us into the unfathomable … “we see gigantic shadows swaying back and forth” and become “seers of the realm of spirits.”  Nietzsche advises us to listen to music with our muscles. If we did, would we experience these musical shadows? Would we enter a realm of spirits?

Alexei Georg, pianist and composer, listens to music with not only his muscles but with the deepest elements of his mind and soul. What does he discover when he plays a forgotten sonata he found inside an old Russian sea chest? This sheet music carries with it, in Hoffmann’s words, “mists of fear, of horror, of terror.” And I promise you, the darkest of shadows.

Alexei Georg is a young man living in Boston and about to journey into the dark magic of music.

GREYLOCK

Supernatural thriller … soon … when the leaves fall.

MTGR-MA


			

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The Mysterious Window

The Deserted House  by  E.T.A. Hoffmann (1909)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 31, 2015

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The subject of this story is the mysterious. Are facts more mysterious than the imagination? Or is the power of the imagination the reality?

Our narrator Theodore is a clairvoyant. Or so his friends believe. Theodore tells of an adventure with the mysterious. Imagine you are walking in old Germany on an avenue lined with aristocratic homes and fashionable shops. Tucked among the rich and gay architectures is a deserted old house. Theodore becomes entranced by this closed up and unoccupied home. He wonders what may be hidden within it. One day, in the upper window he sees the hand of a young woman. Later he hears her mad laughs and scratchy old voice.

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Fatal magic. A haunted mirror. A gypsy woman in a red shawl. This is a wonderfully creepy story with counts and countesses, betrayals, and of course, the mysterious.

 

 

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I discovered author E.T.A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann) when I was researching occult music for my current WIP novel Greylock. Hoffmann is most popularly known as a composer, but he’s written novels and over fifty short stories in horror, fantasy, and the supernatural. His tales are full of magic, occult powers of the subconscious, and psychology. He writes in a rich narrative style that carries vintage storytelling atmospherics. Many know his name as the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was the basis for Tchaikovsky’s ballet.

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Read the short story online at  UNZ.org  at German Mysteries, From The Lock and Key Library by Julian Hawthorne.

 

Listen to the audio at Librivox,  Parts 1 and 2 on Youtube.

 

Another Hoffman favorite short is The Sandman, featured here at Tales of Terror on  July 9, 2013.

 

 

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Devils Club

The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly  by Rosa Mulholland (1891)

Classic Tales From Women in Horror , WIHM

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror, February 17, 2015

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We are in the midst of a wild thunderstorm in the village of Hurly Burly. July roses hang their blossoms under the torrents. A great house sits a mile from the local shops. In the vast drawing room, Mistress and Master Hurly rest with a hot tea urn and muffins when a visitor arrives—and on such a dreadful night. Lisa, a small lovely creature claims she’s arrived to play music for them on their beautiful organ. The Hurlys’ are perplexed. Lisa tells them that their son has sent her.

“Our son—“ began Mistress Hurly, but her mouth twitched, her voice broke, and she looked piteously towards her husband.

 “Our son,” says Master Hurly, making an effort to conquer the quavering in his voice, “our son is long dead.”

 

imagesSo begins this haunted tale of supernatural music and evil power of the Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly. I am especially interested in supernatural music and working on a novel of how music can possess  and exhibit evil powers. E.T.A. Hoffman believed that music could lead into the “dark abysses of the soul.” What do you think? Have you ever had a mysterious experience while listening to music?

Try this haunted organ music at YouTube: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by J.S. Bach

 

 

 

imgresWIHM author Rosa Mulholland is an Irish poet and novelist (1841-1921). The Princess Grace Library lists over fifty novels, novellas, and short stories of this forgotten author. So many of her stories are out of print now, it’s no wonder. She was highly favored by Charles Dickens who encouraged her to write. Dickens, in fact, published a good deal of Mulholland’s stories in his All the Year Round in the 1860s. Some of her best known titles were The Wild Birds of Killeevy, Banshee Castle, Mystery of Hall-In-The-Wood, The Wicked Woods of Toobereevil, Spirit and Dust (poems).

 

 

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You can read the Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly at SearchEngine.org.UK/ebooks/PDF.

Listen to the audio version on YouTube. Nicely done!

I expect you are more likely to find Mulholland’s stories in libraries than on Amazon, although there are a few available here.

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[Sketch above by Sam McKim of Ken Anderson’s original sketch (Shipley-Lydecker House, Baltimore, Maryland]

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Supernatural Powers in Music: Venetian Ghost Story

A Wicked Voice   by Vernon Lee (Violet Paget)   (1890)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    November 4, 2014

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Imagine yourself in old Venice, the slurping waterways and black gondolas. Magnus, our narrator, is fan of Wagner’s music and comes to Venice to write his opera. This story hinges on a famous singer, Zaffirino, who received a sapphire, (engraved with cabalistic signs) from a masked stranger, reportedly to be the devil. Inspired by this power, Zaffirino charms the Italians with his songs.

LuisaFumiImages-2Can music have evil powers? We know music affects the human spirit but can it penetrate so deeply that it might cause death? When Zaffirino sings to the lady Pisana Vendramin, his music has a shocking result …

“ …she [Pisana Vendramin] began to change frightfully; she gave a dreadful cry, and fell into the convulsions of death. In a quarter of an hour she was dead! Zaffirino did not wait to see her die.”

Zaffirino’s ghost-voice haunts Magnus to no end, and he cannot write his opera. He finds Zaffirino’s voice possesses both beautiful and wicked tones. Even to the point of the music seducing with erotic flavors. Magnus describes the voice “ … They were long-drawn-out notes, of intense but peculiar sweetness, a man’s voice which had much of a woman’s, but more even of a chorister’s, but a chorister’s voice without its limpidity and innocence; its youthfulness was veiled, muffled, as it were, in a sort of downy vagueness, as if a passion of tears withheld.”

Highly descriptive, rhapsodic, and with a mesmerizing effect, A Wicked Voice is a tale that reaches beyond the expected ghost story. You will find undertones of homoeroticism here. Vernon Lee was  considered to be a cosmopolitan intellectual at the time (1856-1935) and eccentric. She is said to have failed to achieve mass fame in her day, but today readers are rediscovering this forgotten writer.

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I was especially drawn to this story since my current novel-in-progress is about the supernatural powers of music; I am looking forward to reading more of Vernon Lee’s stories. Vernon Lee wrote three collections of supernatural tales.

 

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Read A Wicked Voice at Gutenberg.org (scroll down to about 80% to locate story title)

[Art: masked figure by Luisa Fumi]

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