MORSIMA /

‘moros’ = ‘fate’ and ‘amorsima’ = ‘that which does not come from fate’
–Note in Xenakis’ score to Morsima/Amorsima, written Paris 1956-1962

Everyone has observed the sonic phenomena of a political crowd of dozens or hundreds of thousands of people. The human river shouts a slogan in a uniform rhythm. Then another slogan springs from the head of the demonstration; it spreads towards the tail, replacing the first. A wave of transition thus passes from the head to the tail. The clamor fills the city, and the inhibiting force of voice and rhythm reaches a climax. It is an event of great power and beauty in its ferocity…
–Xenakis Formalised Music 1963.

On 17 October 1961 a peaceful protest of Algerians in Paris, against a night-time curfew which applied only to them, was organised by the Féderation de France of the Front de Libération National (FLN), near the end of its guerrilla war against the French authorities in Algeria (1954-1962). The march was brutally repressed by the police, with somewhere in the region of 200 fatalities.
[...]
a specific aim of the demonstration was to influence international opinion. The FLN mouthpiece El Moudjahid described the demonstration’s aim as ‘pour attirer l’attention de l’opinion publique française et internationale’.

–Daniel A. Gordon – “World Reactions to the 1961 Paris Pogrom”


“They had all removed their numbers from their uniforms. I was revolted. I never thought police could do such things. We were supposed to be guardians of the peace.” Police records show that Papon told officers at one station that they must be “subversive” in the war against their opponents. “You will be covered, I give you my word,” he said. In the days following the massacre, dozens of bodies were taken from the Seine as far down river as Rouen.

–Sunday Times, 12th October 1997

…Then the impact between the demonstrators and the enemy occurs. The perfect rhythm of the last slogan breaks up in a huge cluster of chaotic shouts , which also spreads to the tail. Imagine, in addition, the reports of dozens of machine guns and the whistle of bullets adding their punctuations to this total disorder. The crowd is then rapidly dispersed, and after sonic and visual hell follows a detonating calm, full of despair, dust and death. The statistical laws of these events, separated from their political or moral context, ar the same as those of cicadas or rain.
–Xenakis Formalised Music 1963.

AMORSIMA