Keyboard Instruments

The “Training Piano for a Young Heretic” and “Les Clavicules de Salomon”

    The “Training Piano for a Young Heretic” is essentially a toy piano – little songs can be picked out on its two octaves.  The significance of the piece, however, lies in  the symbols engraved on its keys.  The symbols represent demons found in the “Lemegeton vel Clavicula Salomonis Regis” or “Key of Solomon the King.” (See Schumann essay for a complete explanation)
    The purpose of my piano is to familiarize a young person with the symbols and names of the first fifteen of the catalogued demons: Bael, Agares, Vassago, Samigina, Marbas, Valefor, Amon, Barbatos (on middle C!), Paimon I, Paimon II, Buer, Sitri, Beleth I, and Beleth II.  It is generally agreed that in themselves, these symbols have no power.  It is only when consecrated that they begin to have an effect.  Without consecration, this piano remains, essentially, an educational toy, but a very gifted child might get some real action out of it.
    I have called the larger keyboard “Clavicules de Salomon” taken from the French translation of the Keys.  This keyboard makes no sound – the keys are silent, mounted on springs, with no connection to any strings or pipes. This is primarily an instrument of meditation, for someone who has a working knowledge of the Lemegeton.


    This piece was inspired in part by the biblical story of Creation, in part by Robert Fludd's treatment of the subject in Utriusque Cosmi, Vol. I (Oppenheim, 1617), and in part by my own tendency to think in octaves.  The first two keys depict the first day – the creation of light and the parting of light from the darkness.  The third key depicts the second day; the separation of the waters from the dry land.  The fourth key shows the creation of plants and trees.  The fifth key is the creation and ordering of the planets and stars.  The sixth key is the fifth day – the creation of animals – every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth.  And the seventh key depicts the creation of man and woman.  The circular text on the top of the piece is those passages from the King James bible.

    "The Philosopher's Stone is made in the image of the Creation of the World.  For one must have its chaos and its prime matter, in which the elements float hither and thither, all mixed together, until they are separated by the fiery spirit.  And when this has happened, the light is lifted up, while the heavy is brought downwards..."
(J. D'Espagnet, Das Geheime Werk, Nuremberg, 1730)

The Chanouns Yemannes Tale

    This piece was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer's fourteenth century story, the Canon's Yeoman's Tale.  This is the story of a failed, and therefore repentant, alchemist.  The keys (inspired by engravings in Viridarium Chymicum, by D. Stolcius von Stolcenberg, Frankfurt, 1624) depict the four sisters of alchemy, the four "virgins" of the sun, and four degrees of love given to the alchemist by his Anima – specifically:

C = a sister balanced on a globe marked with the symbol for Earth. On her head she balances a smaller globe, containing a little dark human figure, representing the "blackening stage" or negredo.

D = Aries

E = a sister balanced on a globe marked with the symbol for Water.  On her head she balances a smaller globe containing a white rose, representing the "whitening stage" or albedo.

F = Cancer

G = a sister balanced on a globe marked with the symbol for Air.  On her head she balances a smaller globe containing an eagle, representing the "yellowing stage" or citrinitas.

A = Libra

B = a sister balanced on a globe marked with the symbol for Fire.  On her head she balances a smaller globe containing a lion's head, representing the "reddening stage" or rubedo.

C = Capricorn

    The circular text is Chaucer's story.  Around the outside of the circle I wrote four lines which seem to summarize the tale:
This cursed craft whoso wole exercize,
He shal no good han that hym may suffise;
For al the good he spendeth thereaboute
He lese shal; therof have I no doute.

Martyr's Keyboard

St. Sophia (date unknown) is revered in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the personification of divine wisdom.  She was martyred with her three daughters: Faith, Hope, and Charity.  Dangerous things to kill off.
    Feast day: September 30th

St. Christopher (died 251) was a giant from Canaan who wished to serve the most powerful king in the world.  First he served Satan, but when he observed the power the crucifix seemed to have over his master, he decided to serve Christ instead.  He did this by assisting travelers over a dangerous river.  One day a child asked him for help – St. Christopher carried the child over the river, though with each step the burden grew heavier.  When he reached the opposite bank, he discovered that the child was Christ himself.  He was arrested by Decius and jailed with two prostitutes who were instructed to seduce him, but instead he converted them. He was then beaten with iron rods, shot with arrows, which turned back on those that fired them, and finally beheaded.  He is the patron saint of bachelors, porters, and travelers, and is invoked against tempest, plague, and sudden death.
    Feast day: July 25th

St. Eustace (date unknown) was born with the name of Placidas, a Roman general.  He was converted to Christianity when he saw a stag in the forest with a crucifix between its antlers; he changed his name and those of his family members, and was martyred with them through being roasted in a brazen bull when they refused to sacrifice to pagan gods.  He is the patron saint of hunters, and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
    Feast day: September 20th (West)
                     November 2nd  (East)
St. Catharine of Alexandria (died 310) was born into a noble family, refused to marry the Emperor because she had dedicated her virginity to Christ, and successfully debated with 50 philosophers who were sent to turn her away from Christianity.  They tried to break her on a wheel, but the wheel broke instead – so they beheaded her.  She is the patron saint of eloquence, young girls, philosophers, single women, spinners, students, nurses, clergy members, and she is the protectress of the dying.
    Feast day: November 25th

St. Laurence (died 258) was born in Aragon, became a deacon under Pope Sixtus II, and was martyred during the Emperor Valerian's persecutions, a few days after the Pope was killed. As the treasurer of the Church, he was commanded by the Emperor to turn over the Church's resources.  He gathered together all of the poor people in the city and proclaimed "These are the treasure of the Church."  So he was stripped and put on a gridiron to be burned to death – when one side of his body had been burned, he said to his torturers "Let my body be turned, one side is broiled enough."  He is the patron saint of cooks, cutlers, glaziers, the poor, restauranteurs, and Sri Lanka.
    Feast day: August 10th

St. Stanislaus (died 1079) consecrated Bishop of Krakov in 1072.  The local nobility demanded that King Boleslaus II be excommunicated – the king countered by accusing Stanislaus of extorting land from a man named Peter, who died from the stress of it all.  Stanislaus raised Peter from the dead to refute the king's accusations, but the king executed him anyway. He is the patron saint of Poland.
    Feast day: April 11th

St. Petronilla (died in the first century) was the daughter of St. Peter.  She refused the advances of a Roman leader named Flaccus, who threatened to have her killed.  Instead, she died after fasting for three days.  She carries Peter's keys.
    Feast day: May 31st

St. Barbara (died 303) was locked in a tower by her father to keep her away from men and from Christian teaching. She became a Christian and had workmen add a third window to her tower to symbolize the Trinity.  Her father was furious, and condemned her to death.  She was racked, birched, carded with metal combs, forced to lie on a bed of sharp shards, seared with red-hot blades, and finally beheaded.  Her father was struck down by lightening.  She is the patron saint of architects, builders, the dying, fire prevention, founders, miners, prisoners, and stonemasons.
    Feast day: December 4th
St. Andrew (died 60) was the elder brother of St. Peter, and also a fisherman.  He was the first apostle.  He was martyred on a saltire cross, and is the patron saint of fisherman, Russia, the house of the Dukes of Burgundy, Scotland, and Order of the Golden Fleece.
    Feast Day: November 30th
St. Philip (died first century) was an apostle from Galilee.  He was captured by pagans and they tried to make him sacrifice to Mars; a dragon miraculously appeared and killed the pagans.  Philip felt sorry for them, killed the dragon, and raised them from the dead.  He died at Hierapolis – first stoned, then crucified.  He is usually shown with a dragon or snake.  He is the patron saint of hatters and pastry cooks.
    Feast day: May 3rd
St. Agnes (died 350) refused suitor after suitor to preserve her virginity.  One young man was struck down as he left her; she raised him from the dead.  When she was put into a brothel, her hair grew long to cover her body, and her virginity was preserved.  She was executed by being stabbed in the throat; after her death her parents saw an apparition of her, accompanied by a lamb.  She is the patron saint of the betrothed and of young girls.
    Feast day: January 21st
St. Dorothy (died 304) was sent to be executed by Fabritius, the governor of Caesarea, for refusing to worship idols.  On her way to her martyrdom a young lawyer sarcastically asked her to bring some roses and apples from Paradise.  An angel appeared and gave her a basket of roses and apples – the young lawyer was converted, so he too was martyred.  She is the patron saint of gardeners, florists, midwives, and brides.
    Feast day: February 6th
St. Peter of Verona (died 1252) was a Dominican friar and priest.  He was the Grand Inquisitor for most of Northern Italy, and was sent by the Church to break the Cathar heresy.  Unfortunately he was sent by himself, which is how he came to be known as Peter Martyr.
    Feast Day: April 29th
St. Vitus (died 300) was born in Sicily, and fled his home at the age of seven.  He performed an exorcism of the Emperor Diocletian's son (the son probably suffered from epilepsy) but was jailed by the Emperor for being a Christian.  He was boiled in oil and thrown to the lions, but was spared.  Then he was hanged with two other martyrs.  He is the patron saint of boiler makers, dancers, actors, epileptics, those suffering from nervous diseases and from the bites of mad dogs and snakes.
    Feast day: June 15th
St. Cecilia (died in the 3rd century) was a young Christian patrician, betrothed to a pagan man named Valerian.  She had sworn her virginity to God, but could not escape the marriage.  In her Acts, it is claimed "As the organs at her wedding feast were playing, Cecilia sung in her heart to the Lord, saying; may my heart remain unsullied."  She managed to convert her husband and his brother – the two of them were martyred before she was.  She was brought before the prefect and refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods – a soldier was sent to behead her, but three blows did not suffice to take her head off.  She lived for three days with her head neck half-severed.  Since she is the patron saint of musicians, I carved her image, with a portative organ and a wound in her throat, on Middle C – this is the first key I made, to bring luck to the whole project.
    Feast day: November 22nd
St. Denis, also known as Dionysius (died 250) was the first bishop of Paris.  He was sentenced to death along with a priest named Rusticus  and a deacon named Eleutherius.  The three of them were beheaded; they then picked up their heads and walked all the way to the sepulcher.  The other two didn't do anything interesting after that, so they weren't canonized; St. Denis, however, performed many posthumous miracles and so achieved sainthood.  He is the patron saint of France.
    Feast day: October 9th

St. Stephen (died 35) was a deacon and the proto martyr of the Christian church.  He was a Hellenistic Jew appointed to distribute alms among the poor.  He criticized this contemporaries for killing Christ in the same way their fathers had killed the prophets, and he was stoned to death without a trial.  People who witnessed the execution laid their clothes at the feet of Saul (later Paul) – this was of course before his famous conversion (or epileptic fit) on the Road to Damascus.  He is the patron saint of headache
sufferers, bricklayers, deacons, and stonemasons.
    Feast day: December 26th (West)
                     December 27th (East)

St. Lucy (died 304) was a wealthy Sicilian who refused to marry and gave all her money away to the poor.  One of her rejected suitors denounced her to the authorities (this would have been Diocletian's persecution, in Syracuse); they sent her to a brothel but she was miraculously protected, they tried to burn her but they failed – finally she was beheaded.  There are two stories of what happened to her eyes; one claims that she tore her own eyes out and sent them to a suitor, one says that her eyes were torn out as part of her martyrdom.  Either was, they were miraculously restored to her head.  She is the patron saint of cutlers, eye trouble, hemorrhaging and writers.
    Feast day: December 13th
St. Anastasia (died 304) Little is known about her, except that she was burned at the stake in Sirmium (now Yugoslavia).  There was a Roman martyr of the same name; this key represents the Eastern Saint.
    Feast day: depending on who you ask, December 25th or March 10th  (West)
                                                                                      December 22nd (East)

St. Livinus (date unknown)  I know nothing at all about this saint, except that he is the patron saint of Ghent, and he was a bishop; I suppose of the same place.  At some point in his martyrdom his tongue was torn out with pincers.
    Feast day: November 12th
St. Matthias (first century) was the apostle who took the place of Judas after the latter's suicide; he fulfilled the requirements of having been a follower from the Baptism to the Ascension, and a witness to the Resurrection.  He had his head cut off with an ax.
    Feast day: February 24th (West)
                          August 9th (East)
St. Agatha (third century) was born at the foot of Mt. Etna in Sicily, and decided to dedicate her life to Christ.  The Consul of Sicily, Quintinian, decided to try to seduce her; when she refused he had her sent to a brothel, where she was miraculously protected.  She then was attached head-down to a column where her breasts were torn off with a pair of pincers.  She was healed as she lay in prison by a vision of St. Peter; then she was hauled over hot coals until she died, crying out her thanks to God.  She is the
patron saint invoked again fire, particularly the eruptions of Mt. Etna; she is also invoked against diseases of the breasts, and is the patron saint of bell-founders, nurses and rape victims.
    Feast day: February 5th
St. Barnabas (died 62) was an apostle; born Joseph, but renamed Barnabas, meaning "Son of Consolation."  As was a healer, who cured the sick by laying a copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew on their heads.  He returned to Cyprus, the land of his birth, as an evangelist, but was burned to death by Cypriot Jews at Salamis.  He is the patron saint of Milan, and of weavers.
    Feast day: June 11th

St. Medard (died 560) was bishop of Vermandois.  According to legend, when he was a child he was caught in a rainstorm and an eagle came and hovered over him, sheltering him with its wings.  It is said that if it rains on Medard's feast day, it will rain for forty days after.  (In England this belief is attached to the feast of St. Swithin) He is the patron saint of farmers, and toothache sufferers.
    Feast day: June 8th
St. Christina of Bolsena (died 3rd century) was likely not called Christina at all; nonetheless this name has become attached to her.  She refused to sacrifice to Apollo, smashed the gold and silver idols and gave the pieces to the poor.  Her father had her arrested; she was whipped and racked on a wheel which fell to pieces.  She was locked in a tower and visited by angels who brought her fruit and flowers, then she was thrown into a lake with a millstone around her neck.  Christ himself appeared to her and rescued her from drowning.  She was then thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil and then locked up with a collection of poisonous snakes – whose venom had no effect
on her.  The executioners tried shooting arrows at her, but they just bounced off – finally her head was split by an axeman.  She is the patron saint of archers, millers and Italian seamen.
    Feast day: July 24th

St. Eulalia (died 304) ran away from home at the age of twelve.  When the Diocletian edicts were published, obliging everyone to sacrifice to the pagan gods, she refused, trampling on the sacrificial cake and spitting at the judge who tried to force her to obey.  She was beaten with sticks, attached to a cross, scourged with iron hooks, cast into a cauldron of oil, and tied to a stake to be burned, but her long hair caught fire and somehow formed a protective screen around her.  Finally she was beheaded, and as she died a white dove flew out of her innocent mouth.  She is the patron saint of women in labor.
    Feast day: December 10th
St. James the Greater (died 44) was one of the apostles, brother of the apostle John and also a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee. He was one of the three witnesses at the Transfiguration of Christ and his agony in the garden of Gethsemane – he was also the first apostle to die for his Christian faith, being put to the sword by King Herod Agrippa.  He is the patron saint of arthritis sufferers, Chile, furriers, Guatemala, Nicaragua, pharmacists, pilgrims, rheumatism, and Spain.
    Feast day: July 25th
St. Apollonia (died 249) was a deaconess of Alexandria when she was seized by pagans, who broke all her teeth, lit a bonfire and threatened to throw her on it if she didn't recite their pagan prayers with them.  She asked for a moment to think about it, and when they weren't paying attention to her she leapt on the fire and was consumed.  She is the patron saint of dentists and toothache sufferers.
    Feast day: February 9th

St. Margaret (3rd century) was a shepherdess and the daughter of a pagan priest.  Olybrius, the governor of Antioch, carried her off to his palace and tried to seduce her; she refused, and was then tortured and tempted in all sorts of ways.  She was fed to a dragon, but she carried a little crucifix with her, which she used to cut her way out of its belly.  She managed to convert a number of people before she was beheaded during the Diocletian persecution.  Her intercession guarantees a painless and easy childbirth.  Hers is one of the voices heard by Joan of Arc.
    Feast day: July 13th (East)
                    July 20th (West)


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