Thalassa they shouted

"Tha-Laas-Saaa They Shouted"



Percussion Ensemble

(Xylophone, Triangle, Tambourine, Snare Drum, Cymbal, Tenor Drum, Bass Drum)


 Sometime in the past I got obsessed with the sound of the 'ten thousands':

"On the fifth day they reached the mountain, the name of which was Theches. No sooner had the men in front ascended it and caught sight of the sea than a great cry arose, and Xenophon, in the rearguard, catching the sound of it, conjectured that another set of enemies must surely be attacking in front; for they were followed by the inhabitants of the country, which was all aflame;...

But as the shout became louder and nearer, and those who from time to time came up, began racing at the top of their speed towards the shouters, and the shouting continually recommenced with yet greater volume as the numbers increased, Xenophon settled in his mind that something extraordinary must have happened, so he mounted his horse, and taking with him Lycius and the cavalry, he galloped to the rescue. Presently they could hear the soldiers shouting and passing on the joyful word, "The sea! the sea!"" (1)

Xenophon's Anabasis(3) tells the story of 'ten thousands' who march against the Perseus king under the command of Cyrus. Cyrus gets killed in the final war with the Perseus army.  Afterwards, one more unluck event happens. The Perseus men kills all the commanders of the remaining Hellen forces through a conspiracy. The Hellen forces choose Xenophon as commander for the rest of the journey. They decide to return back Home although passing through dangerous territories.

They finally reach the Black Sea at Trabzon and shout "Thalassa! Thalassa!" at the first view of the sea. 

Thalassa is a commonly known very popular story.  Many people know the end of it at least.  But also one must appreciate that during that era in the history, pillaging, torture and killing was very common and it was the mighty who decided what is right or wrong.  Xenophon and his army was no exception.  Here are a few examples in Xenophon's words:

 "When they had breakfasted and the march recommenced, the generals planted themselves a little to one side in a narrow place, and when they found any of the aforesaid slaves or other property still retained, they confiscated them."

 "The two were brought up at once and questioned separately: "Did they know of any other road than the one visible?" The first said no; in  spite of all sorts of terrors applied to extract a better answer--"no," he persisted.    When nothing could be got out of him, he was killed before the eyes of his fellow."

 Then what is the reason that makes the ten thousands' story so charming?  When they got defeated by Perseus forces they made a decision; not to join Perseus, not to fight against them again.  But also they made the decision to return back to their Homes.  They decided to live.  They decided to survive by all means.  And they did.

 The ending rhythm of my piece is: "Tha-laas-saaa", the rhythm of the words of the men shouting

"The sea!  The sea!"


My piece repeats the rhytm as if shouting: "Re-maain-aliiive! Re-maain-aliiive!"

1- Thalassa: The sea.
2- The Project Gutenberg EBook of Anabasis, by Xenophon

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may
copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook
or online at

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  • I'm always glad to find music inspired by the classics, and I found this piece successful in creating an ancient Aegean atmosphere, and I found it more listenable than I usually do with percussion pieces.

    One reason the story from Xenophon is famous it that it illustrates how in his world the sea was a unifying rather than a separating force.  They were shouting "The Sea" because at that point they knew they could get home.

    I've done something vaguely similar, a software-generated piece based on a passage from Homer and trying to create a feel of the ancient sea -- I can't remember if I've posted it here in the past, but it's at SoundCloud What song the sirens sang.

    • Thank you Jon,

      I know your song of the sirens, beautiful serene...

      Thank you for sharing it here.  I like to do collective works where a person's contribution completes and enhances the work of an other...  Competetions are good but we shall also organise collective events where there may be seperate works or even a single work composed by multiple composers...  I remember in the 1990s there was an organisation like that for the second WW and Wolfagng Rihm had written a child solo plus a soprano duet among others' works...  

      Thank you again for your interest and collaboration.


  • Hi Ali,

    Very innovative sounds.

    I listened to Thalassa They Shouted.

    Very interesting composition.

    Suits very well for a game, and it has the feel in suspense and unknown.

    I am enjoying the different senses on this composition.

    Well recorded and enjoyable.


    • Hi Rene,

      I appreciate your encouraging comments.  You mention it may suit a game...

      Did you mean a game program on computer?  Or have I misunderstood it?

      Thanks again.


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