Chapter Four




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pg. 1 - In the Wake of Poseidon | pg. 2 - The Devil's Triangle| pg. 3 - Garden of Worm
pg. 4 - World on the Scales

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Merday Morn | The Tritone | The Community | Hand of Sceiron


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The Devil's Triangle


The Devil's Triangle is Robert Fripp's version of Holst's Mars . On an album so concerned with the theme of balancing male and female energies, it seems incongruous to allude so strongly to the planet most closely associated with male energy, but there is a reason for this.

"Mars was originally a god of vegetation, fertility and new vitality (Nichols 143). He is especially associated with the efflorescence of spring, and is responsible for the well-being and protection of domestic plants and animals. ...A common epithet of Mars was gradivus, which refers to his fostering of growth (grandiri, to grow). In later times gradivus was taken to refer to marching (gradi, to march), and so he is gradivus in two ways: an agricultural deity and a martial deity. (Larousse 202) I've tried to translate this pun by calling Mars "the God of Marches" and "the March God," simultaneously referring to the month and the action.

Mars gave his name to March, which was the first month of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. His birthday was celebrated on the first of March, and he had important festivals throughout the month. March initiated the war season, and the traditional iconography of March is filled with symbols of Mars. (de Mailly Nesle 130-1; OCD s.v. Mars; Oswalt 180; Salzman 106-11)"

- The Pythagorean Taro by John Opsopaus

The Devil's Triad

Because The Devil's Triangle is an exercise in the Devil's Interval, or Devil's Triad, more commonly known as the tritone, the title amounts to a musical pun. Furthermore, "tritone" is perilously close to "Triton", the son of Poseidon.

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Merday Morn

"Triton, in Greek mythology, a mermaid, demigod of the sea; he was the son of the sea god, Poseidon..."

"Poseidon and Neptune were often depicted as half-man and half-fish..."

- The Historical Mermaid

"...Triton was Poseidon's "trumpeter". His "trumpet" was a shell which he blew to announce Poseidon's advent or when Poseidon commanded him to blow it in order to appease the rough seas. Thus, when Poseidon wanted to stop the deluge he ordered Triton to blow his shell and so the water withdrew back into the sea and the earth emerged again. A legend had grown about him that he was a creature of the sea with the head and upper body of a man, the tail of a dolphin and with two horse-legs."

- Research by Roula Papageorgiou-Haska

"Seagoing men of old looked to Triton to calm raging seas. The Argonauts beseeched him to aid them in navigating safe routes and calm the waters of the great Deluge. Triton served as benefactor to the Trojans and mercifully called back the storm unleashed on them by Juno.
So too is he transformed from calm to terrible. With his enormous strength, he blows the conch which bellows during devastating storms. A mere breath churns air currents toward tempestuous rage. As gigantic waves curl and crash against the beach, Triton's mighty form roils beneath the seething waters, his curling serpentine tail fueling his motion."

- Mariner's Fightin Triton Legend by Mrs. Michelle McNerney


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"The tritone is the interval of three whole tones. (an interval is the distance between two notes) It can also be considered as and notated as an augmented 4th or a diminished 5th. and further is an exact logarithmic division of the octave in two.
The tritone was used in Gregorian chant, but from at least the tenth century it was considered dissonant and labelled as the "diabolus in musica".
…In early nineteenth century opera, the tritone was often used to portray the ominous or evil - this use continues in theatre music today."

- The Tritone Interval by Norma Welch

As the tritone is a common feature in King Crimson music, why is special attention drawn to the concept with the title, " The Devil's Triangle "?
For the purposes of this album, the seemingly incompatible notes of the tritone represent the male and female energies. Heard separately, the notes of the tritone are identifiable. Heard together, to form a tritone, their identities (like that of Poseidon or the merman, Triton, who is neither man nor fish) become ambiguous. This ambiguity extends into the realm of gender. Remember that the Temperance card, and this album, represent "a tempering or uniting of the male and female energies."

Description of the Temperance Card

"A rather androgynous-looking, golden-winged young woman holds in her left hand a silver patera … In the background is a twin-peaked mountain, and the glow of a sunrise appears between the peaks, over which shines a rainbow."

"The rainbow also symbolizes the androgynous blending of opposites represented by Temperance. As Zolla (57) remarks, "The androgyne character of the rainbow is so strong that there are many legends in the French, Serbian and Westfalian countryside about people changing sex when passing under a rainbow. But its peculiar symbolic character consists in a blend of androgyny with a conjunction of the human and the divine." Thus it is especially significant that Temperance stands under a rainbow."

- Pythagorean Tarot by John Opsopaus

It is also especially significant that the album cover painting includes all the colors of the rainbow.

"In the sixteenth century, composers started to use the tritone as part of the dominant seventh chord to strengthen the authentic cadence, and also to achieve tonal ambiguity."

- The Tritone Interval by Norma Welch

"the tritone, that most ambiguous of intervals."

- Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune by Kathy Henkel (program annotator for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra)

"Using tones constructed from the same note (say, D); each tone effectively consists of all the same notes spanning five octaves played simultaneously.
The result is ambiguity: people perceive the tone as a D but disagree as to which octave it belongs."


- Dissecting the Brain with Sound by Shawn Carlson

"The TC (Tristan chord) first occurs in an ambiguous way, portraying an atmosphere of mystery and foreboding at the beginning of the opera. As the Prelude develops, however, the TC assumes its other identity, the "half-diminished seventh" form..." [13] The dual interpretation of the TC is itself symbolic, representing passionate love controlled by destiny (the initial TC) and death, which ultimately resolves the drama….In this way the tritone-related tonalities A minor and Eb minor express one of the many dualities that pervade Tristan und Isolde.

8. An even more radical interpretation is to be found in Jean-Jacques Nattiez, *Wagner Androgyne* (Christian Bourgois Editeur, 1990), p. 333, where the author poses the question "Is the Tristan Chord an androgynous chord?"("L'accord de Tristan est-il un accordandrogyne?") and discusses the sometimes ambiguous relation between the personae of Tristan and Isolde throughout the opera."

- Tristan Redux: Comments on John Rothgeb's article on the Tristan Chord in MTO 1.1 by Allen Forte

The gendered nature of harmony in another long dissonant minimalist piece, Sister Ray , is discussed in the below cite. Sister Ray is roughly contemporaneous with The Devil's Triangle .

"Despite my criticism of Morton previously, I do believe that McClary's ideas about the gendered nature of harmony as a system of musical narrativity can be productively applied to popular music, "Sister Ray" in particular.
The most controversial chapter of McClary's book Feminine Endings is her discussion of contemporary composer Janika Vandervelde (112-131). She identifies Vandervelde's use of a rhythmically insistent but harmonically ambiguous academic minimalism as a way of representing female embodiment and pleasure. In Vandervelde's Genesis II, the piece McClary analyzes, the piano, plays in this style, while the violin and cello forcefully enact the teleological gestures of Romanticism. McClary sees the conflict in this piece as a perfect example of the convergence of sexual politics and harmonic logic.
The music to "Sister Ray" reflects this same conflict between an interest in repetition and ambiguity, culturally coded as feminine, and one in violence and linear narrative, coded masculine. The important difference between Genesis II and "Sister Ray" is that, unlike the clear division of the ensemble in Vandervelde's composition, on the Velvet Underground record, the instruments are all frantically simultaneously signifying in both directions. The music mirrors the transvestites who populate its lyrics."

"Sister Ray:" Some Pleasures of a Musical Text by Jeff Schwartz

"There is an additional meaning to the wine being in the silver vessel and the water in the golden vessel: the male spirit is in the female vessel and the female spirit is in the male vessel. This symbolizes the ritual transvestitism and other forms of androgyny that symbolize the unification of opposites in spiritual initiations in many cultures (Eliade, M&A 111-114). So we may interpret Temperance as the divine child undertaking her first initiation."

- Pythagorean Tarot by John Opsopaus


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Evidence of this sexual sub-text is to be found in the liner notes. The cover painting, Twelve Archetypes, is credited to Tammo de Jongh with the following comment:

"…with reference to his book 'The Magic Circle' and Richard Gardener's 'The Purpose of Love' The Community, 10 Lady Somerset Rd. NW5"

The following cite discusses "The Community":

"Lady Somerset Road is home to a community of men who are living out a successful alternative to the consumer culture. In the process, they are challenging conventional assumptions about work, property, the state and sexuality. They are the Graigian Society, founders of a new order of "green monks" whose mission is to alter fundamentally our attitude to the natural world. The monks rigorously eschew hierarchy, but the undoubted driving force behind the project is the Venerable Anelog. Anelog, now seventy, is a good-natured and approachable chap with a Whitmanesque white beard, the quietly charismatic guardian of their rambling but cluttered house. He is half-Dutch, speaks with an engaging lilt and used to be known as Tammo de Jongh.
The problem of modern society, they believe, is that the thrusting, impulsive forces of masculinity are insufficiently balanced by the nurturing, intuitive feminine.
Sebastien and Hereward wear their hair long and speak of "feminine" and "masculine" as qualities that transcend mere biology. They, and Anelog, wear genderless cotton habits of russet and green. Their sexuality is inclusive and polymorphous, refreshing in a culture that preaches puritanism but peddles pornography.
"In other words," Hereward explains, "we want to liberate the female in all of us." It is a refrain echoed in their book, The Future Will Be Green, published in 1996…"

- The Green Monks of NW5 by Aidan Rankin

The Community, founded by the man who illustrated the cover of In the Wake of Poseidon , embodies the dual temperance themes of the album, personal and environmental.

"The labial wound in the side of Christ is an expression that the male shaman, to have magical power, must take on the power of woman. The wound that does not kill Christ is the magical labial wound, it is the seal of the resurrection and an expression of the myth of eternal recurrence. From Christ to the Fisher King of the Grail legends, the man suffering from a magical wound is no ordinary man, he is the man who has transcended the duality of sexuality, the man with a vulva, the shamanistic androgyne.
And as to the Grail legends, Percival, whose name literally means Pierce the Valley, is the innocent knight who searches for the Holy Grail (the uterine cup which caught the blood from the labial wound). Daoist literature contains numerous references to the Valley Spirit and, of course, the Mysterious Female. These are usually references to the androgynous state, the Yin and Yang Union of Opposites which must be realized in the course of the alchemical opus."

- Ruminations on Zen's Cows by Chuan Yuan Shakya

In summary, the union of two harmonically incompatible musical notes, the tritone, providing the greatest degree of harmonic tension, represents ambiguity, androgyny and the alchemical union of opposites. In this album, and probably all King Crimson music, cadential progression is somewhat analogous to alchemical transformation with the resolution of harmonic tension representing the completion of the alchemical process.

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Hand of Sceiron

"After Crommyon, and situated above Attica, are the Sceironian Rocks. They leave no room for a road along the sea, but the road from the Isthmus to Megara and Attica passes above them. However, the road approaches so close to the rocks that in many places it passes along the edge of precipices, because the mountain situated above them is both lofty and impracticable for roads. Here is the setting of the myth about Sceiron and the Pityocamptes, the robbers who infested the above-mentioned mountainous country and were killed by Theseus. And the Athenians have given the name Sceiron to the Argestes, the violent wind that blows down on the travellers left from the heights of this mountainous country."

- Strabo Geography

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