King Crimson: In The Wake Of Poseidon
   An Analysis by Andrew Keeling

Part I


'In the Wake of Poseidon' gathers together a number of important elements fusing them together into a coherent structural concept, shot-through with symbolism - musical and otherwise.

John Green in his in-depth analysis of the work (Chapter 4 of Promenade the Puzzle - the Poetic Vision of Peter Sinfield - has said that Peter Sinfield's lyrics, and cover concept, work on multiple- levels of meaning which are involved in the title, 'In the Wake of Poseidon'. First, on the mythical level, following Zeus's and Poseidon's action in the killing of Kronos who was intent on killing his children (Zeus thought, like Herod of Biblical New Testament, that the children would de-throne him) peace ensued in the Olympian kingdom. Secondly, the mythical dimension is brought up-to-date with the protest from the 1960's sub-culture about Vietnam, and the reaction of the preceding generation, sometimes violent, to this outcry. In this way we are able to see a first-hand archetypal re-statement of this dominant theme which links the ancient, mythical dimension with that of the more recent past. Thirdly Poseidon, as the Greek god of the sea, connects the feminine water theme with the Temperance card of the Tarot. Psychologically speaking, through this card, male is connected to female, in terms of active to passive. This is reinforced by the cover of the album, 'Twelve Archetypes' by Tammo de Jongh. De Jongh, aka Anelog, is a member of The Graigan Society (also known as The Community) a community dedicated to restoring the balance in masculine and feminine tendencies which they see as being out-of-kilter in today's society. This connects with the Temperance card of the Tarot, as well as to Jungian/Alchemical ideas which also saturate this work, as well as the other King Crimson albums from 1969-71. Since the making of the these four albums, we are now possibly, with hindsight, in a better position to see how they anticipate many of the concerns we have in the present: socially, politically, psychologically and spiritually.

Part II

I plan to discuss how this web of connections, conveying both conflict and balance, is depicted in the musical structure of the work. To begin with I will give an overview of the form of the work, before going on to deal with several of the pieces separately.

Peace I: a) Texture: solo voice + dulcimer-like ending; b) Eb pentatonic (pitches used are C-Bb-G-C-F-Eb). The dulcimer-like ending, A-F#-C-Bb, includes an inner tritone relationship (F#-C) which anticipates the many tritones which litter the work;

Pictures of a City: a) Texture: full band; b) G Aeolian (+ Db);

Cadence and Cascade: a) Reduced texture - song; b)E major pentatonic/modal - E-F#-G#-B-C#;

In the Wake of Poseidon: a) Full texture - homophonic with a reference to hymnody; b) E (minor) modal, using mainly i-iv-v accompaniment;

Peace II: a) Texture: solo acoustic guitar; b) A pentatonic;

Catfood: a) Texture: full band; b) E minor pentatonic/modal; b) Mainly i-iv-v accompaniment, but decorative F-Bb at the end in the piano part (Bb = tritone from E);

The Devil's Triangle: a) Texture: full/varied; b) Part 1 - D pedal/tritones; Part 2 - White noise(wind) & claves; Part 3 - E pedal pitch with circle of fifths in the middle section and chronological survey of collaged musics (like early sampling techniques?) towards the end;

Peace III: a) solo voice, then voice(s) and acoustic guitar; b) E pentatonic. Closes with A major 9-8 suspension.

The following diagram may help to clarify the structure:


From the diagram we can see that there is an example of progressive tonality, with the ascent from Eb ('Peace I') to E ('Peace III'). The structure is also framed and partitioned by 'Peace', which also presents an instance of a tritone in the higher-level of structural harmony ('Peace I'=Eb; 'Peace II' = A).

There are three main harmonic elements which span the duration of the work: a) tritones; b) modality; c) pentatonicism. a)The tritone, traditionally known as 'diabolus in musica' has often been associated with musical conflict. Tritones are used widely throughout 'In the Wake of Poseidon', as they are in much of the output of Stravinsky and Holst. In 'Pictures of a City' the tritones are associated not only with American Be-Bop jazz/T.V. title-music, but also with a specific city-scape: 'the biggest garbage dump in the world - New York' (Robert Fripp's introduction to the piece at Birmingham Town Hall, May 1971). b) Modality is used as a reconciling element in '...Poseidon' often as part of the harder-edged pieces such as 'Pictures...'. The modal collection, in the latter, includes a Db (tritone to G natural), which creates conflict and instability. However the modality sits between the use of tritones with: c) Pentatonicism. This this seems to ground the work as a stabilising force. For example, the work begins and ends with it and, in this way, makes a subtle reference to Eastern forms of music and, in that sense, philosophies especially Taoism.

One way of interpreting the work would be to say that it begins passively (pentatonic) with 'Peace', which provides an anacrusis into the first instance of active engagement for the listener, 'Pictures of a City'. This may also point to something 'inner' (Peace) extending to 'outer' (POAC) or, in Jungian terms, introvert to extrovert. There is a further insight into the splitting of the sexual act from the sacred to the permissive in 'Cadence and Cascade', which is, in a way, symbolised by the subtle transformation of pure pentatony into something approaching modality. 'Cadence and Cascade' is also anacrusis-like in that it serves as a spring-board into 'In the Wake of Poseidon'. This deals, to some extent, with neo-Platonism and, in connection with this, draws the listener into active engagement with such issues as the environment and the psychology: 'mother earth' and 'balance of change'. Modality, here, is accompanied by primary chords, and in doing so makes an unavoidable reference to hymnody. Side 2 (I am referring to the original vinyl edition of the record) begins with 'Peace II', which is a solo guitar version of the 'Peace I'. It again serves as an anacrusis into 'Catfood' which is modal. 'Catfood', like 'Happy Family' on 'Lizard', pays homage to The Beatles, here as a near-quotation from 'Come Together', from 'Abbey Road'. 'The Devil's Traingle' functions as the climax of the structure, and was also the final piece used in King Crimson performances from 1969-71. It is also a version of Holst's piece 'Mars' from 'The Planets Suite'. 'The Devil's Triangle' is littered with references to tritones suggesting conflict and instability. 'Peace III' brings the work to a close in an act of musical, and therefore symbolic, reconciliation.

Part III

Further structural concerns

It is possible to see the structure of 'In the Wake of Poseidon' as symmetrical with the title piece and 'Peace: A Theme' (or Peace II as I will refer to it) standing in the centre. In the following diagram I have placed the pitch centres of the pieces in parentheses:


It can be seen from this that the pitch-centre of the whole seems to be E/e, and that Eb=D# can be regarded as the leading-note to this central pitch. The symmetry can also be extended further to the pitch centres which flank the structure through the use of major and minor 3rds.


The major and minor 3rds also have implications for the thematic material of some of the songs. For example, 'Peace I', 'I am the ocean', has the melodic line C-Bb-G-Bb, while 'Cadence and Cascade' includes G#-F#-E-C# (E-C# is a minor 3rd) as the opening melodic line. However, there is a remarkable transformation by transposition of pitch and rhythm in the title piece in the opening line 'Plato's spawn cold..' which utilises the pitches F#-E-D-B: these are the same pitches as 'Cadence and Cascade' but are, here, transposed down a tone. The vocal line of 'Catfood' also utilises the pitches G-F#-E (D), which outlines the minor 3rd again as well as the descent linking it to the previous examples. Not only is it possible to see that, motivically speaking, 3rds delineate the thematic material but that the melodic lines follow similar descending shapes. Beyond that the pentatonicism of 'Peace I' and 'Cadence and Cascade' is transformed into a modal melody in the title piece. Does this also support the idea of transformation from the passive 'feminine' to the more active 'masculine' which I have suggested, following Jon Green, in Parts 1 and 2 of this analysis?

Part IV

Peace: A Beginning (I); A Theme (II); An End (III).

Jon Green has suggested that the essential task of 'In the Wake of Poseidon' is that of finding an equilibrium between logic and emotion of Logos and Eros and, with reference to the Temperence card of the Tarot, to reconcile these opposing forces ( Jung has also said that a person involvd in creative endeavour is often forced into a situation where Logos and Eros (thinking and feeling), are placed in a reconciling position.

The three occurrences of 'Peace', within the structure of 'In the Wake of Poseidon' symbolise this idea as though in microcosm. 'Peace: A Beginning' (which I have referred to previously as 'Peace I') is sung by a solo voice, counter-tenor-like, but actually Greg Lake singing in falsetto. I feel this points closely to the feminine within the masculine. So, with Eb as as the pitch-centre of this opening piece, we are immediately confronted by the passive feminine mode, which may in turn correspond to the 'Ruach Elohim' - the feminine pneuma which brooded over the waters at the creation of the world - 'I am the ocean'. The 'I' of the song (for that is what it is - a song) may also be Eros. From the 'one' of this wholeness comes the duality of the active, masculine energy contained in 'Pictures of a City'. The splitting of the 'one' into the 'two' is also well known in the Gnosticism myth of creation, where The Parent of the Entirety emanates Barbelo, or the second principle. After a series of emanations the feminine priciple, Sophia, plunges into the abyss of matter to remain imprisoned within it. It was this feminine Nous which the Alchemists attempted to release from the chains of Physis as a physical act of redemption, just as the goal of Jungian analysis is to release the soul (the anima in a man or animus in a woman) from the darkness of the psyche. Peter Sinfield and Robert Fripp, in the structure of 'In the Wake of Poseidon', have a similar artistic mission: to reclaim Eros (the feminine principle) at the very end as 'Peace: An End' (of Peace III as I have referred to it elsewhere).

Musically, the occurrences of 'Peace' illustrate this gradual reconciliation of opposing elements. For example, 'Peace I' ends with a string instrument - a dulcimer which is picked up by the acoustic guitar in 'Peace II'. In 'Peace III' both the voice, later harmonised in unison octaves singing in natural tenor, is now accompanied by acoustic guitar. Metaphorically speaking, Eros, in the form of solo falsetto voice, has been balanced by the inclusion of the masculine 'thinking-type' guitar from 'Peace II' as Logos. Also the sense of distance created by reverb/echo, within the audio-space of 'Peace I', is brought into the foreground and dried-out in 'Peace III'.

The pitch-centres are worth exploration: 'Peace I' is wholly pentatonic which, as I have suggested previously, may be related to the passive-feminine mode. However, the tritone contained within the four dulcimer pitches which are played sperately from the voice at the end (a-F#-C-b flat) anticipates the tritonic aggression in 'Pictures of a City'. The Eb, of 'Peace I', is the tritone opposite to the A major pentatonic of 'Peace II', an acoustic guitar version of the solo vocal originally written as a string quartet by Robert Fripp. This version is harmonised by functional chords such as I, Vb, IV#7 and vi etc. with lots of suspensions. Perhaps this harmonic interpretation, as well as the shift to the the tritone opposite, refers to the gradual shift to the masculine Logos in the work. The tritones Eb and A both resolve inwards, as components of a dominant seventh chord (which here, they are not included as part of) to provide the 'E' centre of 'Peace III', where voice and guitar appear together for the first time in the context of the 'Peace' sections of the work in a kind of musical 'coniunctio':

Eb>E (E major/modal-pentatonic)

The three occurrences of 'Peace' both frame and partition the musical structure and, in this way, may be regarded as being 'prolongational' by allowing the feminine, passive, pentatonic to be felt through the gaps in the structure. This also heightened by the 'progressive' tonality which is felt as a step upwards from the Eb of the opening to the E of the ending. This, in some ways, suggests a musical metaphor: a symbol of ascent from one state - that of a base metal such as Lead - into another - perhaps the 'Aurum non vulgi' of the Alchemists.

'Peace I' has one verse while, musically speaking, 'Peace III' takes harmonic elements from 'Peace I & II' and joins them into a two verse structure which both frame a middle section. This middle section is the place where the voices are heard in unison octaves, and also the place where the quasi-Biblical words are heard: 'You look everywhere/But not inside you.' (John Chapter 14:27: 'Peace I leave with you, my Peace I give unto you'. Luke 17:21: 'The kingdom of God is within you'.) The idea of 'peace' being inside is also reflected structurally by the middle section being placed centrally 'within' the structure.

Part V

'Pictures of a City'

From the heaven-on-earth of 'Peace' we move into its polar opposite: 'Pictures of a City' is a re-working of King Crimson's 'A Man, A City' and is aggressive, active and masculine. It is a veritable musical hell-on-earth.

There are ten distinct sections, and it is scored for full band, tutti, as opposed to the reduced duet of voice of falsetto voice and dulcimer of 'Peace' which precedes it: voice, alto and tenor saxophones, electric guitars, mellotron, bass guitar and drums. The piece is unified by the pitch-classes (G=0): 0, 3, 5 and 6. Section 1: The introduction is a re-working of the earlier version of 'A Man, A City'. It is a huge anacrusis of rising modal pitches (G-A-Bb-C-D7b10) in the guitar, bass and saxophone parts with rolled snare-drum over the following bars:

12/8: 3+3+3+3 (quavers)|3/4: 2+2+2| 11/8: 3+3+2+3
12/8: 3+3+3+3|3/4: 2+2+2| 11/8: 3+3+2+3
(Repeat of same)

On the final bar the electric guitar screams-out the pitches in the top register. Gradually the listener is launched into a seething city-scape of immense height and depth, hustle and bustle. One wonders if the piece was revised by Fripp and Sinfield following their visit to new York in 1969. NY is laid-out in a grid system, and this piece is reminiscent of a grid in terms of its structure which is represented, in musical terms, by ascending/descending conjunct lines as well as by sections which are marked off, one from the other, by the introductions of new sections.

Section 2: what follows is similar to the music of a TV soundtrack (Mission Impossible springs to mind) or Be-Bop jazz. We hear a saxophone and electric guitar riff in octaves, set in bars in 12/8 in G Dorian mode: G,F,G,Bb,G,C,G,Db,G,C,Bb, which picks-up the tritone of the dulcimer in 'Peace' although, in this case, it is G/Db. It is set in a 28 bar structure: bars 1-8 are on G; 9-12 on C; 13-16 on G; 17-20 on D; 21-24 on G; 25-28 on D. At bar 13 of this section the guitar harmonises the saxophone in 10ths, and in bar 17 there are contrary-motion lines: descending saxophone D-C-Bb-A; ascending guitar F#-A-C-F#, which is an early example of Robert Fripp's penchant for diminished aggregates. The section ends with a 'swung' unison riff: C-C#-D-Bb/C-C#-D-F/C-C#-D-F-F#-A-Bb.

Section 3: vocal Verse 1 - is in four lines. This is the first instance of the aggressive 'masculine' type in modal form: 'Concrete cold face' (G-Db-C-Bb). Again, it is the descending 3rd (Db-Bb) but a re-ordering/transformation of the lines found in 'Cadence and Cascade' etc. this time prefaced by a tritone. The tritone is, in this work, symbolic of 'masculine' and perhaps evil. That it should be first interval in the vocal part in 'POAC' is completely fitting. The revision of the introduction now also makes sense: it is this which underpins the vocal verse, although this time it includes distorted electric guitar and mellotron set in the background. The three verse structure of the piece also represents the 'masculine'. The glissandi bends of the introduction also anticipate the words here, 'Bright light scream beam'.

Section 4: thickened texture but similar to Section 2.

Section 5: Verse 2 overlaps with;

Section 6: Bridge passage - this is an ascending alto saxophone line doubled by electric guitar which covers the interval of a minor 10th (G1-Bb2) over a pedal G, complete with descending glissandi bends. Under this is a contrary motion, sustained, siren-like glissando from G1 to F1 1/4-tone flat. This bridge looks backwards to the verses and forwards to the central section. It also evokes the height and depth of the city taking the listener upwards, in term sof its tessitura, to the top of the guitar and alto saxophone register. (I remember reading somewhere, that at the time of recording the tape had to be speeded-up to obtain these pitches in the alto sax).

Section 7a: fast sextuplets in the electric guitar part punctuated by Fibonacci note attacks: bass & drums X1 (on G), then x2, X3, X5, repeat. The pitch material is picked up from the introduction and riff, though transformed by diminution.

Section 7b: fast quintuplet/sextuplet lines in the guitar over chords G, C & D. Syncopated chromatic phrases falling from G natural axis of symmetry which are mirrored by ascending lines. It is possible that Fripp is alluding to prime and retrograde forms of a serial note-row, especially since there seem to be six pitches used (i.e. half of a twelve not rwo reflected by the other half).

Section 7c: similar pitch-classes, and harmonic underlay, but this time using semi-quaver sextuplets with gaps, sometimes played in unison and sometimes in 3rds. The whole of Section 7 is reminiscent of the 'Mirrors' section in 'Schizoid Man' (the comparison would also be in keeping with the works as a whole, except that the inclusion of 'Peace' on ITWOP, as well as its subject-matter, makes for differentiation). A single upwards glissando bend, in the guitar part, overlaps this section with:

Section 8 - '42nd at Treadmill': reduced texture. This is the still point of the turning world, as far as this piece goes, and is underpinned by the bass guitar's tritone line G-G(8ve)-G-G(8ve)-Db, which has been picked-up from the opening interval in the vocal part. It is, essentially, the trio of Giles, Giles and Fripp (drums, bass and guitar). The rhythm is 3+3+2+2+2+2+2 (quavers) - 3+2+3 crotchets. Mainly a texture comprising drums/bass and volume pedal guitar atmospherics: single pitches, dyads especially of ascending 4ths, over the harmonic underlay: G,C,G,D,Eb,C the final heard as four bars of 4/4. There is a long crescendo and prologation, utilising pedal G, D and Eb leading to:

Section 9: as Verse 3 with thickened texture - chromatic mellotron descents to G natural and Bb.

Section 10: saxophone and guitar ascents mirror Section 6.

Coda: noise, with long saxophone pitch Bb. This is reminiscent of 'Schizoid Man'.

The piece is directional: towards Section 8, where the soft and reduced texture is, in turn, obliterated in the 'noise' section of the coda. The idea of opposites, which this piece clearly includes, is also contained in de Jongh's cover painting.

Part VI

Cadence and Cascade

As in 'In the Court of the Crimson King' a structural comparison may be made with the positioning of 'I Talk to the Wind' to the positioning of 'Cadence and Cascade' on 'In the Wake of Poseidon'. This song is the polar-opposite to 'Pictures of a City', but the subject-matter of the album is continued in it.

Jon Green has suggested (, that the song symbolises man's loss of the sacred dimension with regard to sex. By including the song the idea of balance and imbalance is illuminated by a pentatonic melody, unified by the G#-F#-E-C# (Pitch classes [E=0]: 4, 2, 0, 9) and is similar in shape to 'Peace I', which is partially 'perverted' by a syrupy accompaniment using standard, jazz-like chords. Green has also made the point that the piece is more to do with the balancing of the opposites. I wonder if there is an metaphorical 'coniunctio', between 'Cadence' (a musical punctuation marking signifying 'close' or 'climax'), 'Cascade' (flowing, white water) and 'Jade' symbolic for a hard, green/white stone sometimes known as the symbol for the Philosophers Stone in Chinese Alchemy. Perhaps, in the context of the marriage of Sinfield's words with Fripp's music, the feminine/water symbol is connected to something more masculine in the shape of the Stone, as feeling is connected to thinking.

The piece is in 4/4 with crotchet = 58 c. Structure:

Introduction: solo acoustic guitar (in left-hand channel);
Verse 1: voice + guitar (voice central);
Chorus: voice + ensemble of guitar, bass guitar, piano and drums;
Bridge passage: intrumental ensemble plus piano (piano in right-hand channel);
Verse 2: full ensemble. Dialogue between Cadence (guitar) and Cascade (piano) (?);
Chorus: voice(s) + ensemble;
Middle section: jazz-like harmony + celesta;
Instrumental section featuring flute solo over chords from verse;
Chorus + celesta;
Instrumental section; flute solo + fragmented guitar and piano dialogue which becomes more flowing as the music progresses towards the end.

The number '4', known as the Quaternary, is at the centre of the song and is symbolised musically. For example, there are four sections where the voice is heard; many of the harmonic progressions rise an interval of a fourth from E major to A major (Introduction: E major-F#minor/E-E major-A major; Chorus: E major-G# minor-A9-E major; Bridge passage: E major-G# minor-B major-A9); there are Plagal Cadences (IV-I) featured which are known as 'feminine endings', as compared to the strong 'masculine' Perfect Cadences (V-I) in 'Pictures of a City' and 'In the Wake of Poseidon'. Jung has written about the symbolism of the Quaternary with particular reference to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary who, in the Catholic tradition, is now included as the fourth member of the Trinity as the feminine presence in the celestial realm.

Other features of the song are the falling/rising melodic phrases of the verses, compared to the rising/falling phrases of the chorus which, in turn, become falling/rising lines in the middle section. Aurally speaking, the song is completely 'softened' by the key of E major pentatonic, which is the opposite of the menacing G Dorian of 'Pictures of a City' (a mode associated with war and the war-like tribe of ancient Greece, the Dorians). The inclusion of the celesta (mellotron setting?) helps to sustain the idea of the softer, more feminine side as conveyed in the song.

Part VII

I would like to continue the analysis of 'Cadence and Cascade' with a comparison of 'Flight of the Ibis' found on the McDonald and Giles album (Island Records, 1970).

It is intriguing to think that 'Flight of the Ibis', according to the sleeve-notes, was the original melody for 'Cadence and Cascade'. When tranferring Ian McDonald's verse melody, by placing it over Robert Fripp's chords, things seems to fit quite well. It doesn't, however, work the other way round: Fripp's melody does not fit over McDonald's chords due, largely, to the faster harmonic rhythm of '...Ibis' as against the slower, one-chord-per-bar harmonic rhythm in the verse of 'Cadence...'. The original melody is different from 'Cadence...' oscillating, mainly, between two pitches, B natural and G# finally dipping down to to A natural at the end of the first phrase (Pitch classes [E=0]: 7,7,7,4,7,4,7,7,7,5). The new melody of 'Cadence...' is, as already discussed, pentatonic dipping down to G#, from C#, and back up and down (pitch-classes [E=0]: 4,4,2,0,9,0,2,4,2,0,9). Whether this was done to heighten the sensual lyrics is a tantalizing question. The 'Cadence...' chorus, 'Purred, whispered...', corresponds to the opening zither section of 'Ibis' with several important variants (i.e. 'Cadence' chorus: 0,4,7,9,7,0 - essentially a rising and falling E pentatonic arpeggio; 'Ibis' zither section; 0,2,4,9,7,2,0. Both phrases are roughly symmetrical).

There are other similarities common to both versions, such as the little semi-quaver figures (A natural, B natural, E natural) in bar 17 of 'Cadence' and bar 22 of 'Ibis', as well as differences such as the 'Ibis' chorus, 'Love, love is one...', and the introduction of a central section in 'Cadence': 'Caravan hotel...'. The flute solos in 'Cadence' replace the zither in 'Ibis', and the latter also includes three-part vocals in places, whereas 'Cadence' relies mainly on a single vocal line except at places like 'They 9know him just a man)' which is harmonised by a single major third to heighten the word 'They' (plural). It leads one to think that, perhaps, Fripp is providing Sinfield's protagonists with their own pitch centres: Cadence=G#; Cascade=E natural (C#), although this idea is pure conjecture. 'Ibis' also includes an organ introduction, and has an electric piano rather than an acoustic piano. It stikes me that 'Cadence' is more jazz-like, with antiphonal exchanges between acoustic guitar and piano as well as two long flute solos, and 'Ibis' is more American soft-rock sounding. Melodically speaking, 'Ibis' seems to anticipate one or two of the ideas found on Ian McDonald's 'Drivers Eyes' (1999).


'In the Wake of Poseidon'

The title-piece stands, together with 'Peace II', in the centre of the structure. Peter Sinfield's words touch on the archetypal dimension (Hecate=the Midnight Queen=the moon=the anima=the eternal feminine=the earth/great mother; etc.) and the religious/sacred (Plato, Jesus) as a way of emphasising the imbalance of the contemporary situation we find ourselves in ('Whilst all around our mother earth/Waits balanced on the scales'). However, there is still a possibility of finding the 'middle way' - the Tao - by integrating the four humours (air, fire, earth and water). This corresponds to Jung's four psychological 'types': feeling, thinking, sensation and intuition. The mandala-like arrangement of the archetypes on the cover painting, with the background on earth and sky, illustrates this and underlines the concept of wholeness and balance which 'In the Wake of Poseidon' explores.

The title-piece occupies a similar place in the structure to that of 'Epitaph' on 'In the Court of the Crimson King'. It is also in the same key/mode, 'e', and is symphonic.


a) Introduction: after a senza-misura bar of mellotrons in 6ths (E/C = C2 - F#/D = D2) the texture continues: mellotron-drenched with descending motives - Antecedent: G-F#|E| G-F#|D|; Consequent: eventually rising, after diminution of the Antecedent to B natural over B major chord (V). The introduction, in a sense, is a microcosm of the harmonic material of the piece.
b) Verse 1: this touches on the excesses of religious 'rite', whilst the anima stands at the end knowing 'every human pain'. This poignant line has a counter-melody in a mellotron flute: E3-B2-A2-F#2-G-F#-E set in suspension-like phrases. Accompaniment to voice: acoustic guitar, bass and drums and mellotrons from 'Two women weep...'.
c)Chorus: voice + ensemble. Oscillation of two chords: D major and e minor (reflecting and balancing the F#-E oscillation of pitches in the middle instrumental section) which, in turn, hammer-home the e Aeolian of the piece. Bass guitar arpeggios underpin the voice ('In air, fire, earth and water) in the first instance (D-F#-A-D; E-E-B-E-E). The four attacks may correspond to the four elements. Textural build-up at 'Balance of change...' plus a faster harmonic rhythm (i.e. two chords per bar: B minor/G major - A major) and a change to stronger, major harmony.
d) Harmony and thematic material as in Verse 1, but the words are emphasised with acute word-painting in the acoustic guitar part: 'Scratch faith of nameless graves' ( scratched, right-hand glissandi with side of plectrum); 'Harvest Hags' (resonant minor 9th arpeggios); 'Ash and sand' (minute G-F# glissando); '..rope and chain' (metallic-like electric guitar pitches, C-A-B); 'Then rear to spoil' (backwards-bend, A-G). Absence of chorus section at the end of this. This is taken up in:
e) Middle intrumental section: begins with eight bars of sustained mellotron chords (e-D major-a/c-B major; e7/9-D major-C major-B with 3rd absent). Two oscillating pitches, F#-E (upper neighbour to pitch-centre) connect these chordal shifts, and balance with the D major-e minor chords at the beginning of the chorus. This may be a musical metaphor: the balancing and reflecting of microcosmic with macrocosmic events which is , of course, the subject of the lyrics. The second part is a variant of the chorus without the voice, and the third part repeats this but in the octave higher, with piano doubling the bass arpeggios. The texture thickens and builds to:
f) Verse 3 with double-tracked voice underpinned by further word-painting in the guitar part, especially at 'Their children kneel in Jesus till/They learn the price of nails'. This includes two backward C-B glissando bends, perhaps painting the picture of the nails entering the hands of Christ as he was nailed to the cross. Mellotrons enter at 'Whilst all around our mother earth...' preparing:
g) Coda: 'Epitaph'-like but Fripp has transformed this to include three chords: a minor, a minor7, b minor; a minor, a minor7, e minor. However, these chords are never stated completely, rather they are there by implication, by including the root pitches in the bass guitar part. The main purpose of these is to accomodate the falling motives of the introduction, G-F#-E doubled a sixth higher E-D-B, which unify introduction with coda, as well as referring to the descending motives of the chorus, 'In air, fire' etc.

Rhythm and the hymnodic parallel

The religious ideas, apart from being contained in the lyrics, are heightened by equally appropriate music, which is hymn-like as well as being symphonic. Peter Sinfield has said (E-mail to Andrew Keeling, April 9, 2000) that ' attendance every Sunday when I was at boarding school between (ages) 8 and 13...few nice hymns though. I always liked "For those in peril on the sea" '. The hymn, 'Eternal Father, strong to save' (English Hymnal No. 540) has a syllable pattern of 88.88.88, whereas 'Poseidon's' is . Besides some similarity in the four-squareness of the melodic material, it is the melodic rhythm of 'Eternal father', set in 4/2, that is more to the point: minim|dotted-minim-crotchet-minim-minim|minim-minim-minim-minim|ditto|ditto. The verses of 'Poseidon', although being in 4/4, bear some relation to this: dotted crotchet-quaver-crotchet-crotchet|ditto|quaver-quaver-minim-crotchet|dotted minim-crotchet-rest. 'Poseidon' is also verse-orientated, with only one appearance of the chorus. Most hymns follow this form.


There is a slow harmonic rhythm throughout the piece: mainly one chord per bar. The music is set in e Aeolian, which makes some connection to more ancient musical forms but, as I have already suggested, modes, in the context of the work as a whole, tend to stand as a kind of half way point between tritones and pentatonic areas. There are some examples of dominant (V=B major)harmony at the end of the chorus which suggests strength on the word 'scales': perhaps a moment of musical balance is achieved here? The harmony of the sung verse is: e minor/b minor/a minor/b minor/eminor/b minor with D root/A minor9/b minor/ditto/e minor/D major/a minor/e minor/e minor. The chorus shifts the emphasis to major harmony: D/e minor/D/e minor/b minor-G major/A/b minor-G/A/B/B. The cadences are usually Perfect (V-I).

Thematic material

The first bar of the vocal part transforms the melody of 'Cadence and Cascade' from G#-F#-E-C# to F#-E-D-B, and falls from F#2 (from the word 'Plato') to F#1 ('Globe'). This brings down the 'eternal' to the 'earth' which the cover-painting, with the foreground of the archetypes, tends to suggest. The final part of the verse is partially sequential ('Whilst dark in dream the Midnight Queen'), B-A-G-F#/A-G-F#-A. Falling 4ths are important ('Air, fire, earth and water'), A-G-F#-E, which are placed together with the four note-attacks in the bass guitar perhaps portraying the four elements in musical terms. Falling 5ths are placed at the beginning of the verses ('Plato's spawn cold..'), F#-(E-D)-B, with a balancing ascent to F# (5th of B major; B major=V of e) at the end of the chorus.

Part IX


'Catfood' continues the imbalance theme of 'In the Wake of Poseidon', in this case the idea of fast-foods, and places it in sequence as another aspect of contemporary neurosis.

In the twentieth century and beyond, in the present century, fast-foods rule our existence as never before. Food is no longer seen as God-given and our attitude to food and eating is, as Jon Green has correctly observed (http://www.songsouponsea/Promenade/Poseidon2.html), the result of our disconnection with the spiritual. Green suggests that 'desire for food is pleasure-driven' and that 'advertising, not the taste,...drives the consumption of "junk-food".' He also points out that mistreatment of our bodies with processed foods mirrors our mistreatment of the Earth in producing these foods, by connecting this to the idea of 'Mother Earth' in the title-piece, with our 'mother's quite insane' in 'Catfood'. The Sacred Mother has been driven underground - into the unconscious - and re-surfaces in the form of neuroses and/or psychological inflations which, in turn, leads to the contemporary need for just about anything except the sacred dimension. In other words, the eternal feminine has turned negative the outworking, of which, is played out in the voracious appetites of contemporary life. The theme of 'Catfood' is taken up later in Peter Sinfield's 'Wholefood Boogie' on 'Still' (1973).

I would like to show how the philosophical ideas of 'Catfood' are represented musically.


To some extent, the music is a reflection of the words and vice versa: the melody of 'Cadence and Cascade' and 'Poseidon' has been further transformed , and this time the G natural ('Lady Supermarket with an apple in her basket/Knocks on the') is repeated seventeen times, before descending to three F#'s and a glissando E to D on the word 'door'. Repetition on single pitches is a key ingredient of the thematic material. In the chorus there are repeated oscillating pitches, F#-E ('No use to complain/If you're caight out in the rain') which are picked-up as the main thematic idea in the verses of 'Cirkus' on 'Lizard' (1970), although here it is presented as E-D, in the initial lines of the song. These oscillations (usually pitch centre to lower neighbour note) are also found in the guitar solo of 'Catfood' which, in turn, is the retrograde of the vocal melody of 'Cirkus'. Perhaps it is the idea of banality, or the mechanical nature of modern life, which Fripp and Sinfield are at pains to convey by using endless repetitions of this kind of material.

Stucture and Harmony

Components: a) Introduction; b) Verses; c) Chorus; d) Instrumental.

'Catfood' is, essentially, a thirteen-bar blues, which can also be regarded as being a seventeen-bar blues by adding the four bar introductions onto the verses. Whichever is the case, the evenness of the usual twelve-bar pattern of blues music has been made irregular by the odd-numbering of the bars. The phrase-lengths of the sung-verses are also irregular: three bars and one beat in length, made even more out-of-kilter with the addition of the 3/4 (3+3 quaveres) on the words 'Knocks on the manager's door' ( also an acute example of word-painting i.e. the aggressive knocking on the door is represented rhythmically, by strong accents: 1, 2,3. 1, 2, 3). Perhaps this is a musical metaphor for the imbalance theme of the work as a whole.

The piece is in E minor Aeolian with the addition of a D# in the context of dominant (proper) harmony. The harmony is mainly centred around three chords: e minor7, a minor 7 and B major, with additions. Again, there is use of the simple, the banal, or that which is quick to conceive.

Order of events within the structure

i) 8 bar introduction; Texture: bass, drums, piano, later electric guitar; bass riff B-E-A-B-D, E-E-D-E-G (reminiscent of 'Come Together' by The Beatles); piano e minor7 chords (minus the third) then atonal decoration (improvisation) in the piano;
ii) 13 (or 17) bar Verse; Texture vocal + full band (+ acoustic guitar); vocal line - G-F#-E-(D); bars - 4/4|4/4|3/4 (3+3 quavers);
iii) 8 bar Chorus - F#7|F#7|E7|E7|F#7|3/4F#7 A (3+3 quavers)|4/4 semi-Sprechtstimme 'Catfood'|5/4 ('Catfood..again!'); oscillating F#-E motive in vocals;
iv) 18 bar middle instrumental: acoustic guitar attacks - 3/4 (3+3) E minor (no 3rd)/A - E/G#|4/4 E (no 3rd)|3/4 A7-A7/B|4/4 A| repeat of E major; climaxes on A with guitar glissando-bend downwards from F natural, with gradual shift from left of audio-space to right over four bars (allusion to The Troggs's 'Wild Thing' introduction? Musical metaphor?);
v) Song continues with balancing 'wind-up' ascent over bass riff, segue Chorus;
vi) Introductory material over four bars with piano octaves - B-E-A (+ guitar harmonics B,G,F#), then B-E-A-A-D-B-B-E + further guitar harmonics (piano melody is here related to the chord from the middle [i.e. e minor (no 3rd)/A);
vii) Verse 3: no chorus, but overlaps with guitar solo, whose main motivic element is D-E (lower neighbour-note to pitch-centre). There seems to be a splicing-together of takes in the 16th bar of the solo which knocks the piece out rhythmically, although this doesn't affect the pulse. The 45 rpm single version of the song closes with the piano-based, chromatic descent plus shout 'arrgh!': 3/4 beat 1 - Bb/Ab up to E; beat 2 - A/G up to D#; beat 3 - G#/F# up to D natural|5/4 same and cuts abruptly + 'arrgh!' The album version continues with;
viii) A7 with added 6th, segue instrumental section. This uses the basic harmonic material of the song, but a dialogue between the electric guitar and piano develops. It looks back to the instrumental dialogue in 'Cadence and Cascade' perhaps connecting the idea of 'appetite' from one piece to the other;
Features of the instrumental section: a) tritone dyads and octave slurring in the guitar part; b) block chording and octaves in the piano; c) gradual diminuendo plus textural reduction towards the end, with gradual omission/fragmenting of pitches in the bass guitar part; d) tremolo build-up of the final chord; e) final piano grace-notes - upward flourish of A-Bb-E-F, with the Bb/E tritone in the centre of the collection.

Part X

The Devil's Triangle

'The Devil's Triangle' is King Crimson's version of 'Mars' from 'The Planets Suite' (Op.32) by Gustav Holst. Holst wrote 'The Planets' from 1914-1917. On King Crimson's 'Epitaph' box-set recordings (1969) the piece is referred to as 'Mars'. However, I seem to remember reading, in a music paper at the time, that they were refused permission to use the original title when committing the work to vinyl.

'The Devil's Triangle' is much longer than the 'Mars' version of the piece, and is cast in three main sections. Much use is made of mellotron, and the electric guitar, prominent in the 5/4 rhythm of the original version, has been dropped. Instead, it is now heard during Section 1, 'Merday Morn' (credited to Robert Fripp and Ian McDonald) playing long sustained pitches. The idea of 'threeness' is included in the title, and in the tritone-based material which I will discuss. Holst's version of 'Mars', includes a motive of three pitches, G-D-Db. King Crimson's version of 'Mars' also includes a transposed version of the motive, D-A-Ab. However, I think the idea of magical symbolism is central to the piece: the tritone is known as 'diabolus in musica', and this may refer back to the painting of the Hierophant symbol on the cover of 'In the Court of the Crimson King'. The Magician is also present on Tammo de Jongh's cover painting.

The presence of the tritone in 'The Devil's Traingle'

Central to both 'Mars' and, to some extent 'The Devil's Triangle', is the tritone, an interval known to the ancients as 'diabolus in musica' (the devil's interval). Jon Green has suggested that the name of Poseidon's son, Triton, is close to the name of the main interval of the piece, the tritone, ( and that Triton was Poseidon's trumpeter which Poseidon commanded him to blow to still the raging seas. Mellotron brass setting are important in 'The Devil's Triangle'. Green has mentioned, rightly I think, that the tritone is also central to the entire work and, in some ways, represents female and male energies which are connected to the Temperance card from the Tarot. This reinforces the balance-imbalance theme of the album. The tritone is heard in 'Peace: A Beginning' in the zither part, and is picked up in the riff of 'Pictures of a City'. It is also important in the opening vocal line of the latter (G-D-Db[C#]) which is the main motive of 'Mars' (see miniature score of Holst-The Planets, Mars-the Bringer of War. Bars 3-6 ff. Boosey and Hawkes, 1921, 1979). Unlike the original King Crimson version of 'Mars', Holst's original motive has been omitted in 'The Devil's Triangle'. Part 1, 'Merday Morn', begins with the 5/4 rhythm on a D natural pedal pitch (Holst's version has G natural as the pedal, and King Crimson Mk I's has D natural), and includes rising triads fading from silence. The first reference to 'Mars' is heard in the chromatic, serpent-like section (dotted crotchets followed by quavers) but this is more of a reference to bar 43 ff. of the original. Holt's original motive has been transformed into a sequential chain of pitches. There is a reference to the opening motive of the Holst, following the sequential chain which is Eb-D-G, but Fripp has changed the original (G-D-Db) by inversion and retrograde re-ordering. Following the pause, after a huge glissando, there is another reference to the motive, D-(F)-G#-A(/Eb). Following Holst, it seems that Fripp is constantly transforming and re-ordering the motive. This kind of transformation technique can be found in 'Saturn' (flute part, bars 1 ff.; double-bass, bars 9-13). 'Merday Morn' ends with a huge thickening of texture, with the addition of sustained electric guitar pitches, piano decoration, oboe-like sustained pitches and a return to the transformed motive, D(F)-G#-A.

Section 2, 'Hand of Sceiron': Jon Green has connected the title to the Sceiron, the violent wind that blows from the mountains of Attica. The section in the piece consists of two main elements: noise and rhythmic attacks. The rhythmic attacks are provided by a metronome (I am grateful to Sid Smith for this insight), which are sounded ten times, followed by a silence, with a further two soft attacks. These serve as an anacrusis into Section Three, 'Garden of Worm'. However, the ten attacks also correspond to the number of pitches in the opening mellotron theme of 'In the Court of the Crimson King', which is referred to in the section of quotations near the end of the piece, as well as to the antecedent phrase of the vocal line of 'Cadence and Cascade'. Robert Fripp has said of the inclusion of the metronome at this point (E-mail to A.K., 23-vii-2000): '...The remorseless, inevitable nature of mechanical time. Creative time is very different: the future is as present in the present moment as we are able to bear. Cf "the Merciless Heropass" '. Gurdjieff has described the Merciless Heropass, in 'All and Everything', that it has no source from which its rising should depend, but like Divine-Love flows always and independently of time. J.G. Bennett has also said ( that 'the Heropass (in Gurdjieff's myth) is vanquished by the infinite wisdon of the creator, not as an enemy...but rather as an ineluctable which...the harmony of the Universe is assured by the rciprocal feeding of everything that the sole remedy against the destructive power of Time'. I wonder if, apropos the Heropass, there is a parallel with Jung's Collective unconscious, where the idea of Kairos (forever) flows through and parallel to Chronos (now) creating the possibility of other dimensions. The Gnostic myth, which includes the idea of 'emanations' of Aeons from the Parent, or the Absolute, down to the Demiurge or the creator of this world, is probably another example of this archetype which also accords with Bennett's description of the Heropass.

This may have some bearing on the structure of 'The Devil's Triangle': out of the Heropass, the unconscious or Kairos as symbolised by 'Merday Morn', emerges the 'Hand of Sceiron', in turn symbolised by the mechanical nature of the metronome which overlaps with Section 3, 'Garden of Worm', and return into the unconscious of the Heropass. It is interesting that both the beginning of 'The Devil's Triangle' fade in/out and gradually back into the pentatonicism of 'Peace' symbolising, perhaps, the Tao (see Richard Wilhelm ed. Tao Te Ching. Arkana, 1985 for a description of the Tao).

a)Merday Morn (Heropass/Kairos/forever/unconscious). Metronome overlap:
b) Hand of Sceiron (Chronos/now/conscious). M.M. anacrusis:
c) Garden of Worm (Heropass/Kairos/unconscious/forever)

Section 3, 'Garden of Worm', is 'Merday Morn' (Section 1) played approximately twice as fast. It begins with a huge mellotron string and brass chord, E - D/C#, which is an expansion of the motive found in 'Mars'. However, I wonder if this is an allusion, aurally speaking, to the beginning of 'Uranus - The Magician', movement six of 'The Planets', where the tritone motive of 'Mars' is re-ordered by Holst sitting within four pitches: G - Eb - A natural - B natural. This may well be a musical metaphor referring to the concept of the magician. The Hierophant is, of course, the magician seen on the inside cover of 'In the Court of the Crimson King', whose main thematic material is heard in the context of 'Garden of Worm'. The Hierophant may be related to Uranus, the magician, who has the elemental number 5 which, paradoxically, represents Water, Air, Fire and Earth: symbols which represent totality, the 'humours', the four psychological 'types' etc. 'Uranus' also begins with four pitches. 'Garden of Worm' may also refer to the Serpent, who is traditionally associated with the Devil in the Biblical account of creation, but also as Lucifer, the bringer of light and, therefore, wisdom known to the Gnostics as Nous. In this way the opposites are reconciled in the piece. The Argonauts also encountered a worm in a garden and, according to Green, Peter Sinfield is referring to the story of Typhon. Echidra, Typhon's mate, was referred to as a worm.

The tritone remains central to 'Garden of Worm', E/Bb with C# rising to D natural. E/Bb/C# is also a diminished pitch collection. A section of cycles of fifths-like material is a heard in the bass guitar, A-D-G-C etc., as a musical landmark. This is connected to the first in a set of musical 'quotations': i) a J.S. Bach-like harpsichord piece, which is cycle of fifths-like; ii) rock n'roll guitar; iii) 'swing' jazz; iv) foxtrot; v) surging strings; vi) Tchaikovsky (?); vii) 'In the Court of the Crimson King'. The harpsichord continues through the texture as a 'loop' and background and the piece ends with mellotron harp-like arpeggios, bringing to mind the double harp and celesta arpeggios at the end of 'Neptune - The Mystic', the seventh and final movement of 'The Planets'. A solo acoustic guitar cadences with three chords: E (no third) - a minor/E (iv/I), repeated with a Tierce de Picardie on E major at the end, which prepares the solo voice of 'Peace: An End'. These guitar chords also transform the motive of 'Mars' to E - B natural - C natural, which inverts the final two pitches of the original, as well as transposing it. The plagal cadence is related to the fourth-based shifts found in 'Cadence and Cascade', and brings 'Peace into relief: it is felt as prolongational - perhaps the musical 'unconscious' lying in the background of the work as a whole.

The quotations in 'The Devil's Triangle'

Robert Fripp has said (E-mail to Andrew Keeling, 19-vii-00): 'Most of the musical "quotations" were presets on the mellotron. String fills, guitar breaks with rhythm section, etc. The only main musical statement I can remember is the chorus from ITCOTCK'.

There are several ways we can view the inclusion of quotations in 'Garden of Worm':

1) They appear in the context of a much longer near-quotation, i.e.'Mars';
2) They define the continued motif of imbalance in 'Poseidon' as a whole - here deception through theft. (i.e. 'POAC' - consumer madness; C&C - the desacralisation of sex; ITWOP - the issue of religion over the sacred, archetypal dimension; Catfood - the desacralisation of food; DT - deception on a grand scale);
3) They continue the interest in quotation by many composers through history from Purcell to Berio and The Beatles. It is well known that Paul McCartney liked Berio's music, and the admiration was reciprocal;
4) As applied to 3), above, they appear in the context of Postmodern 'intertextuality', where a quotation from an art-work is taken from its original context so as to create a new meaning when placed in a new context;
5) Collage/Montage: this was of particular interest not only to composers like Berio, but also to the New York School of John Cage, David Tudor and the 'Fluxus Group'. Cage's 'Fontana Mix', for example, utilises random accessing of radios during a live performance by building up a collage of differing textures, felt as random events. Ideas such as these were seen as a reaction to the Austro-German tradition tradition of Europe, and was to have a major influence on John Lennon via Yoko Ono (also a member of Fluxus). 'Revolution No.9', found on The Beatles' The Double White Album, includes Chopin, tape looping, backwards recordings, the voice of Captain Beefheart, etc., and in some ways anticipates the quotations found on 'The Devil's Triangle' by exploring the quotations in the context of a chronological background. (Interestingly, the New York School also anticipates the Minimalist school of compositon [Steve Reich, Philp Glass etc.] who were an influence on the music of King Crimson Mk IV);
6) They are included as part of the 'magical' background of 'The Devil's Triangle' and, indeed, the whole of 'Poseidon'. Sid Smith has mentioned (E-mail to Andrew Keeling, 15-vii-00) the possibility of a 'snippet of Swan Lake' being included among the quotations. This also deals with the magical in the context of fairy-tale relating to the archetypal/mythical dimension of 'Poseidon' as a whole;
7) Peter Sinfield says the quotations are (E-mail to Andrew Keeling, 14-vii-00): 'Tongue-in-cheek homages and...musical education..The Food, The Fad and The Snuggly (an exercise I repeated in the middle section of "Virginia Plain"). Quoting is such FUN!' Aleatoric/montage/collage techniques grow from the Holst, and demonstrate musical 'progress' with the inclusion of the Baroque (Bach harpsichord piece), Romantic music (Tchaikovsy?), the New English Renaissance (Holst) and 'progressive' rock music per se (King Crimson).

(All analyses of the music of King Crimson/Robert Fripp is copyrighted material: Andrew Keeling/Discipline Global Mobile, 2000.)

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