Musical Guide to In The Wake of Poseidon by King Crimson and McDonald and Giles
by Andrew Keeling
Edited by Mark Graham A Spaceward Publication
Copyright 2009 Andrew Keeling, Mark Graham and Robert Fripp A Spaceward Publication Fisrt published by Spaceward, 2004, CD-ROM SGL002
Dedication To my grandson Liam - one of tomorrow's people - who came into this world on 25th May 2009.
Forward It is 13-25 on August 10, 2003. As I write these opening words to the Musical Guide to In the Wake of Poseidon by King Crimson I find myself once again listening to Pictures of a City, and taken back to the moment I first heard the album during the summer of 1970. This was a moment in my continuing education, musical and otherwise, in the hands of King Crimson. A shattering moment together with school friends who did not and, I maintain, probably still remain ignorant of the significance of this music. ‘Music plays the players’ as Robert Fripp has commented on several occasions. Further, it also plays the listener. Considering I was 15 and the players whose heads, hearts and hands this music passed through were not too much older, it was central to its time continuing to resonate to this day. The purpose of this Musical Guide is to explore the musical and lyrical means employed by King Crimson on In The Wake Of Poseidon. I recently played a gig with Rick Kemp, bass player with Steeleye Span. Our conversation on these occasions invariably drifts to the time Rick joined King Crimson for a week of rehearsals. He tells me that the experience of playing with the band in rehearsal scared him to death. ‘Although nothing much was said - the players were all very quiet - I had a sense that this music was incredible. I was too young and didn’t fully understand it.’ (1) It has taken many people a full thirty or so years to catch up with the music of King Crimson, and I hope this analysis goes in some small way to presenting the aims of the band at this particular time. I have also included an analysis of the McDonald and Giles album recorded and released in November 1970, following the summer release of Poseidon. For me, it represented the reverse side of King Crimson and is no less important for that. The music had, and still has, an overwhelming effect on me. I would like to thank Robert Fripp for inviting me to write the analysis and granting permission to present the musical material from it. Thanks to Peter Sinfield for his many contributions and especially for permission to reproduce the lyrics. Great gratitude to Michael Giles for discussing the drumming apropos Poseidon. Great thanks to Mark Graham for bringing my otherwise dry prose to life with his extraordinary graphics. Thank you Hugh O’Donnell for providing photos of Poseidon-period King Crimson and to Ian McDonald for permission to use the musical extracts from Epitaph and Court of the Crimson King from In the Court of the Crimson King. Gratitude again to Ian McDonald for helping me to understand the intricacies of the McDonald and Giles album. Also I owe Jason Walsh an enormous debt of gratitude for making the musical examples and score thoroughly presentable. Thanks to Mr. McFall's Chamber String Quartet for their performance of Robert Fripp's 'lost' string quartet. Thanks to Jakko M. Jakszyk for additional information and for performing vocals and mellotron parts on the reconstruction of In The Wake Of Poseidon on the original CD-ROM version of this Musical Guide. Thanks to Ken Nicol for recording my performance of Robert Fripp's acoustic guitar parts in the recreation of the 'playing score' of the title track to be found on the original CD-ROM version of this volume.. (Andrew Keeling - June, 2009)
Recommended listening: King Crimson - In the Wake of Poseidon, 30th Anniversary Edition. Virgin/DGM CDVKCX2 or CDVKC2, 1999; McDonald and Giles - Virgin CDV2963, 2002.
Part 1 1. Background Following the departure of Ian McDonald and Michael Giles from King Crimson in December 1969, Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield were left in the difficult, although not impossible situation of writing and producing a second album. Greg Lake, who had also left the band to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer, agreed to return and sing on the new recordings and Peter Giles, who had played with Robert Fripp in Giles, Giles and Fripp, was drafted for bass guitar. Michael Giles also agreed to perform on the album as a session musician. This period in King Crimson’s history is commonly known as the Interregnum, a time when the band were unable to secure the services of full-time members for the purpose of ‘live’ performance. It marks the beginning of the band’s ongoing tendency to break up and reform, or reincarnate, at particular times for music to manifest itself in the persona of King Crimson. Fripp and Sinfield both regarded themselves as sitting at the apex of a kind of hierarchical pyramid structure employing session musicians or friends to perform the parts which had been composed. Indeed, Mel Collins, from the Transatlantic Records band Circus, was invited to play saxophone and flute parts, and the jazz pianist, Keith Tippett, was also called upon. Gordon Haskell, Fripp’s former musical colleague from the League of Gentlemen, added vocals to the album’s second song, Cadence and Cascade.
2. The Music Peter Sinfield has said: ‘When we returned from America in December 1969, after Michael (Giles) and Ian (McDonald) had left, we were left in the position were we had virtually no material. It was a case of thinking, “what the bloody hell do we do?” (2) A projected second album with the original band was to have included Ian McDonald’s Birdman suite. Robert Fripp: ‘I was very disappointed that Birdman couldn’t be used, but Ian and Michael took this for their own album.’ (3) Fripp and Sinfield rewrote songs from the King Crimson repertoire such as A Man, A City re-naming it Pictures of a City and rearranging it with a greater role for guitar along with new lyrics. Cadence and Cascade, originally a song written by Sinfield and McDonald, was rewritten by Fripp although the original melody was taken by McDonald appearing on his and Giles’ later eponymous album as Flight of the Ibis with new lyrics by B.P. Fallon. The title track, In the Wake of Poseidon, was the only new song to be written from scratch, centring around Sinfield’s interest in the work of Tammo de Jongh, Richard Gardner and the Community (aka The Green Monks/The Graigian Society). This was a community of ascetics based at Lady Somerset Road in London whose central philosophy was the promotion of, basically, Green issues. I will discuss the work of Tammo de Jongh and Richard Gardner later. Catfood, a song about fast food, was another McDonaldSinfield piece and subsequently modified by Fripp. The Devil’s Triangle, the longest piece on the album, is a re-working of King Crimson I’s version of Gustav Holst’s Mars from the Planets Suite (1917), performed by King Crimson as the final piece of their concerts from 1969 - 71. Fripp re-structured it in three parts - Merday Morn, The Hand of Sceiron and Garden of Worm, being unable to obtain permission for the use of the original title along with the main motivic substance of the work. Peace - A Beginning, Peace - A Theme, Peace - An End stem from a string quartet written by Fripp with each of the three placed at the beginning, middle and end of the musical structure. The first recorded offering from the album issued as a calling-card was Catfood which appeared as a 45rpm single in March 1970. This was promoted by Fripp, Lake, Peter Giles, Michael Giles and Keith Tippett on BBC TV's Top of the Pops. The B-side was a Fripp composition, the John McLaughlin Extrapolation-period influenced Groon, featuring the reconstituted trio of Giles, Giles and Fripp. In the Wake of Poseidon was released to general enthusiasm by audience and press alike in the early summer of 1970. A Melody Maker headline ran, ‘If Wagner were alive he’d work with Crimson’, while other press sources stated that while the first album displayed naivety ITWOP (as I shall refer to it hereafter) shared a tighter discipline. Although the press shared this enthusiasm, with some sources calling Sinfield’s lyrics Symbolist, there was a consensus that the new King Crimson were capitalising on the success of In the Court of the Crimson King through the use of a similar musical structure, something Fripp was to acknowledge several years later. Other magazines commented that the music was ‘modern classical’ and King Crimson may be well advised to perform away from the pop stage by concentrating on concerts such as the Proms. This probably followed in the footsteps of Soft Machine’s performance at the same venue the previous summer. I believe that ITWOP and Lizard, King Crimson’s subsequent album, both show their continuing interest in the fusion of rock, folk and jazz commonly held to be the defining moment of Progressive rock. The lyrics and album cover design is by Peter Sinfield based on Tammo de Jongh’s painting, Twelve Archetypes. Together with the music this makes for a closely unified concept: a true gesamtkunstwerk - a unified work of art, which further reinforces the ethos of Progressive rock. The Progressive rock movement developed from King Crimson and their first album, In The Court Of The Crimson King. Giles, Giles and Fripp were joined by Ian McDonald who also brought in ex-Fairport Convention vocalist Judy Dyble providing a connection with folk-rock. The classical link came in two forms: first, via the influences of bands such as Procul Harum and The Moody Blues: secondly, through Robert Fripp's essentially plectrum classical guitar technique which allowed him to take rock (Jimi Hendrix) and jazz (John McLaughlin) styles as well as classical. Jazz entered the frame through the interests of Fripp and Ian McDonald but, particularly, through the drumming of Michael Giles whose influences included Tony Williams, Elvin Jones and Tony Oxley. Peter Sinfield's influences of Bob Dylan and Donovan are felt lyrically. ITWOP continues this development and may be regarded as a transitional album. It is as though the shockwave created by In The Court Of The Crimson King gradually dissipates allowing transformation into ever different states on each of the subsequent King Crimson albums. Being the first album following the split of the original band, it is music of a 'healing' kind, where the archetypal energies of the opposites - peace (Peace) and conflict (The Devil's Triangle [Mars]) - are
brought into play through the philosophies of Tammo de Jongh and Richard Gardner whose respective books, The Magic Circle and The Purpose Of Love, were mentioned on ITWOP's original sleeve notes. I will discuss these sources of literary and philosophical influence at a later stage.
3. Mapping the Album ITWOP gathers together a number of important elements by fusing them together into a coherent structural concept, shot-through with symbolism - musical and otherwise. Jon Green, in his in-depth analysis of the work (4) has suggested that Peter Sinfield’s lyrics and cover concept work polysemantically. First, on the mythical level, following Zeus’ and Poseidon’s action in the killing of Kronos who was intent on killing his children (like Herod in the Bible, Zeus thought that the children would de-throne him) a time of peace ensued in the Olympian kingdom. Secondly, the mythical dimension is brought up-to-date with the protest from the 1960’s subculture centred on Vietnam - an important subtext in In the Court of the Crimson King. In this way it's possible to detect an important archetypal restatement of this dominant theme connecting the ancient, primordial dimension with that of the more recent past. Thirdly, Poseidon, as Greek god of the sea, connects the feminine water element with the Temperance card of the Tarot. (Sinfield has discussed his interest in the Tarot [see the section on the Magic Circle later]). Psychologically speaking, male is connected to female as is active to passive through this card. These ideas are subsumed within the painting which adorns the album’s front cover, Tammo de Jongh’s Twelve Archetypes. De Jongh, aka Anelog, was a member of the Graigan Society (also known as the Community) a society dedicated in restoring the balance of masculine and feminine which they see as being out-of-kilter in today’s society and the subject of de Jongh's book The Magic Circle. This links the Temperance card to Jung’s ideas which are part and parcel of de Jongh’s philosophy. Since the release of the first four King Crimson albums, we are now better placed to see how they anticipate many of the concerns of the twenty-first century, socially, politically, psychologically and spiritually; and ITWOP is an admirable sonic representation of the archetypes seen through de Jongh's and Gardner's works. I plan to discuss how this web of connections, conveys both conflict and balance in the musical structure of the work. To begin I will provide an overview of the work before going on to deal with the pieces separately. Peace - A Beginning: a) Texture - solo voice plus dulcimer-like acoustic guitar ending; b) Pitch - Eb pentatonic (pitches used are C-Bb-G-C-F-Eb; pitch-classes [Eb = 0]: 0-2-4-7-9). The dulcimer-like ending, A-F#-C-Bb, includes an inner tritone relationship anticipating the many examples of this interval which stand at the back of the work; c) World music influence (Variation); Pictures of a City: a) Texture - full band; b) G Aeolian (+Db); c) Blues structure; Cadence and Cascade: a) Texture - reduced; b) Pitch - E major pentatonic/modal. E-F#-G#-B-C# ; In the Wake of Poseidon: a) Texture - full, homophonic with reference to hymn/anthem; b) Pitch - E (minor) modal, using mainly i-iv-V harmony in accompaniment; Peace - A Theme: a) Texture - solo acoustic guitar; b) A pentatonic; c) Classical/Jazz influence (Theme); Catfood: a) Texture: full band; b) Pitch - E minor pentatonic/modal, using mainly i-iv-V harmony in accompaniment, but with decorative F-Bb at the end in the piano part (Bb = tritone from E); c) Blues structure; The Devil’s Triangle: a) Texture - full/varied; b) Pitch - Section 1 - D pedal/tritones; Section 2 - white noise (wind) and metronome; Section 3 - E pedal pitch with circle of fifths during the middle section and chronological survey of collaged musics towards the end; c) Classical/Contemporary classical music influence; Peace - An End: a) Texture - solo voice then voices and acoustic guitar; b) Pitch - E pentatonic. Closes with A major 9-8 suspension; c) World music (Variation); The following diagram of pitch centres may help clarify the structure: (See Diagram 1). The diagram demonstrates that there is an example of progressive tonality, with an ascent from Eb (Peace - A Beginning) to E (Peace - An End). The structure is also framed and partitioned by Peace - A Theme, which presents an example of a tritone on a higher-level in the harmonic structure (Peace - A Beginning = Eb; Peace - A Theme = A). Four of the eight pieces utilise E as pitch centre providing the work with a strong Tonic.
There are three main harmonic elements that span the duration of the work: a) tritones; b) modality; c) pentatonicism. I will discuss each in turn. A) Tritone: this was originally known as ‘diabolus in musica’ and has often been associated with musical conflict. Tritones are used widely throughout ITWOP as they are in the output of many contemporary composers, such as Stravinsky and Holst. In Pictures of a City, the tritones are associated not just with American Bebop jazz/T.V. music, but also with a specific cityscape: ‘the biggest garbage dump in the world - New York’. (5) Robert Fripp has utilised tritones in many other King Crimson pieces. B) Modes: these are used as a reconciling element during ITWOP often as part of the harder-edged pieces such as Pictures of a City. The modal collection, during the latter, includes a Db (tritone from G) creating conflict and instability. The modality sits in between the use of the tritones and: C) Pentatonicism: 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 musical forms and, in that sense, philosophies such as Taoism. One way of interpreting ITWOP might be to suggest that it begins passively (pentatonic) with Peace, by providing an anacrusis into the first instance of active engagement for the listener which is Pictures of a City. This also presents the notion of ‘inner’ (Peace) and ‘outer’ (Pictures of a City) or, in purely Jungian terms, introvert and extrovert. Cadence and Cascade, which is about two groupies, splits the sexual act from the sacred into the permissive. This is suggested, musically, by the subtle use of pure pentatony into something approaching modality. Cadence and Cascade is also anacrusis-like creating a springboard into the title track. This draws the listener into the central tenet of the work: the twelve archetypes of Tammo de Jongh. Here, modality is all pervading and makes an unavoidable reference to hymnody, the anthem and to the sacred. Side 2 of the album (I am referring to the original vinyl edition) begins with Peace - A Theme, now played on solo acoustic guitar. As on Side 1, it serves as an anacrusis into the up-tempo Catfood which is, again, modal. Catfood, like Happy Family on King Crimson’s subsequent album, Lizard, pays homage to The Beatles, although here that homage comes in the form of a near-quotation from Come Together from Abbey Road. The Devil’s Triangle functions as the climax of the work, and is littered with tritone references throughout suggesting conflict, instability and war. Peace - An End brings the work to ground with its pentatonicism, stilling the listener and satisfactorily restoring a sense of musical calm. War and peace are here, perhaps, the two defining opposites a listener encounters; or 'fireconsciousness' as opposed to 'water-consciousness' as suggested by the Green Monks (Tammo de Jongh). By taking the original vinyl album another structural reading might be that it is cast in two balancing sections, each with four songs/pieces per side: 1) Peace - A Beginning; Pictures of a City; Cadence and Cascade; In the Wake of Poseidon || 2) Peace - A Theme; Catfood; The Devil's Triangle; Peace - An End ITWOP, perhaps even more than its predecessor, is polystylistic and could, therefore be regarded as a truly Postmodern work. However, because it includes elements of the meta-narrative (something of both a mythic narrative and a quest for the sublime through the de Jongh/Gardner connection) it possesses a Modernist stance. This is yet another case of how it is symptomatic of the Counter-Culture in general, by seemingly straddling the opposites. In doing so both the album, and the culture from which it is derived, defines a curious set of paradoxes perhaps difficult for us to grasp thirty nine years after the event.
4. Individual Pieces i)
Peace - A Beginning; Peace - A Theme; Peace - An End
Jon Green has suggested that the essential task of ITWOP is that of finding an equilibrium between the logic and emotion of Logos and Eros and, with reference to the Temperance card of the Tarot, to reconcile these opposing forces. (6) Jung has also written that a person involved in creative endeavour is often forced into a situation where Logos and Eros (thinking and feeling) are placed in a reconciling position. Logos, as the masculine principle, and Eros, as the feminine, are essential in coming to an understanding of ITWOP. The three occurrences of Peace within the structure of ITWOP symbolise this idea as though in microcosm. Peace - A Beginning is sung by a solo voice, counter-tenor-like, as a monodic line. This captures the feeling of innocence or simplicity in direct contrast to the experience of the subsequent, explosive intent of Pictures of a City evoking the sudden shock of experience or innocence lost. The falsetto counter-tenor voice of Greg Lake, in this context, symbolises the feminine within the masculine. So, with Eb as the pitch-centre of Peace we are confronted by the passive feminine mode, which symbolically corresponds to the Ruach Elohim - the feminine pneuma which brooded over the water at the creation of the world: â€˜I am the ocean lit by the flameâ€™. The splitting of the one (unarius) into the two (binarius) is a well-known theme in the Gnostic myth of creation, where the Parent of the Entirety emanates Barbelo, or the second principle. After a series of emanations the feminine principle, Sophia, plunges into the abyss of matter to remain imprisoned within it. It was this feminine principle, Sophia or Nous (spirit), that the alchemists attempted to release from the chains of Physis (matter) as an actual physical act of redemption, just as the goal of Jungian analysis aims to release the soul (the anima in a man or the animus in a woman) from the darkness of psyche. This is also central to the thought of both Tammo de Jongh and Richard Gardner. Peter Sinfield and Robert Fripp, in the structure of ITWOP, may have unconsciously employed a musico-literary metaphor: to reclaim Eros at the very end as Peace - An End. More importantly, peace was the Counter-Culture's defining symbol and central to their utopian idealism. Musically, the occurrences of Peace illustrate a gradual reconciliation of opposing elements. For example, Peace - A Beginning ends with four pitches played one after the other on acoustic guitar, picked up later in Peace - A Theme by the same instrument alone. In Peace - An End 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, balanced by the inclusion of the masculine thinking-type guitar of Peace - A Theme as Logos. Also, the sense of distance created by reverb/echo within the audio-space of Peace - A Beginning, is brought into the foreground and dried-out in Peace - An End, as if to emphasise its arrival in the here and now. The pitch-centres are worth exploration. Peace - A Beginning is wholly pentatonic which, as I have previously suggested, may be related to the passive feminine mode. However, the tritone contained within the four guitar pitches which are played separately from the voice at the end (A-F#-C-Bb) anticipates the tritonic aggression of Pictures of a City. It is as though conflict is also contained within its opposite state. These four pitches (A-F#-C-Bb) are important in another way: by centring around G, they prepare the pitch-centre of Pictures of a City as well providing a backward glance to the beginning of Peace and both pieces feature compound metres: (See Example 1, Example 2 and Example 3) The four pitches at the end of Peace - A Beginning are also vaguely reminiscent of the four pitches which begin Uranus (The Magician), the sixth movement of Holst's The Planet Suite Op. 32, although in the case of Uranus the pitches are: G - Eb - A - B. It is also interesting to note that The Magician is one of Tammo de Jongh's archetypes. Holst's work deals with astrological archetypes and, of course, Mars (as The Devil's Triangle) makes an appearance in the context of ITWOP. The Eb of Peace - A Beginning is the tritone opposite to the A major pentatonicism of Peace - A Theme, the piece originally conceived as a string quartet by Fripp (see later for reconstruction of this now lost piece). The guitar playing represents the perfect synthesis of classical (possibly Carcassi's Etude No 3 in A major) and jazz. This version is harmonised by functional chords such as I, Vb, IV#7 and vi etc. with some suspensions. There is also a Plagal cadence at the end of bar 4, a technique often employed in liturgical music, which is softer than if it were a Perfect cadence: (See Example 4).
Perhaps this harmonic interpretation, as well as the shift to the tritone opposite, refers to the gradual shift towards the masculine mode in the work. The tritones Eb and A both resolve inwards as components of a prolonged Dominant Seventh chord to provide the E centre of Peace - An End. Together with the voice and guitar together at this point and the harmonic resolution, a listener feels a kind of musical coniunctio at work: A (Peace - A Theme) Eb (Peace - A Beginning)
(G#) E (E Major/pentatonic)
As I have already said, the three occurrences of Peace begin, partition and frame the musical structure and, in this way, may be regarded as prologational by allowing the pentatonic, feminine/passive to be felt through the gaps in the musical structure. This is heightened by the progressive tonality which is felt as a step upwards from the Eb of the opening to the E of the ending. I also think that the three occurrences of Peace had a bearing on the later King Crimson album The Power to Believe (2003), where the title track is sung as a solo Haiku (written by Adrian Belew), a gamelan-accompanied Haiku and a Soundscape-accompanied Haiku at similar positions in the musical structure. Peace - A Beginning has one verse while Peace - An End takes harmonic elements from the previous two versions joining them into a two verse structure which frame the middle section. The middle section (0:38) of Peace - An End is the point at which the voices are heard in unison octaves, as well as being the place where the quasi-Biblical words are heard: ‘You look everywhere/But not inside you.’ (John, chapter 14, verse 27: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.’ Luke, chapter 17, verse 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 of Peace- An End. Peace An End is also a musical borrowing from Robert Fripp's piece Passages Of Time from the Giles, Giles and Fripp CD, The Brondesbury Tapes (1:47ff.). The E of Peace - An End is subsequently picked-up as the E minor of Cirkus, the first song included on King Crimson's third album Lizard, making a connection with the Atlantian/utopian concerns of both albums, as well as the eternal ideas conveyed in Peace and the first verse of Cirkus. Both songs speak of the dawn: 'Peace is the dawn/On a day without end'; 'Bid me face the east closed me in questions/Built the sky for my dawn...' . The first part of the melody of Peace is also quoted in Fripp's guitar part on the original Matte Kudesai (Discipline, 1981. Virgin/DGM CDVKCX8), presumably to heighten Adrian Belew's lyrics in this context as well as making a connection with the band's earlier output. The following pages are a reconstruction of Robert Fripp's string quartet that eventually became Passages Of Time and, subsequently, Peace.