In 3 movements, this work was reviewed as follows, “There are proper tunes, there are pattems that can be traced, brass and percussion in abundance, and rhythms that dance light off the stage at you.” Christchurch Press 11-95. This work was commissioned and premiered by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
Monkey Trips is based upon the Tibetan Buddhist metaphor of the six states/realms of being which we constantly recreate and assume to be reality, six “different kinds of projections or dream worlds” (Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche). Each realm is associated with a particular instrument and the piece moves through them successively.
The Heaven Realm (violin), realm of serenity and stasis in which the monkey dwells on her achievements, blocking out everything undesirable; the intrusion of another player draws her out of this solipsistic state and into dialogue.
In the Human Realm (cello), realm of passion and intellect, the monkey becomes discriminating – exploring, comparing, reaching out to possess the pleasurable, but discovering that pleasure slips away and craving creates frustrations. However, the idea of unity emerges.
Those frustrations impel a retreat into the Animal Realm (bass clarinet), away from intensity into the habitual, rooting around in a more limited world, clinging stubbornly to the safely familiar, whether painful or comfortable.
Then a desperate feeling of starvation sets in, the realm of the Hungry Spirits (flutes); visions of open space and of plenty turn into deprivation. A thirsting for what monkey remembers she once had becomes insatiable. Always reaching out but never realising that in order to drink, you have to first open your throat.
The Hell Realm (percussion): a feeling of being trapped in a small space, of struggling to control this self-created imprisonment. The more she struggles, the more solid grow the walls until rage is exhausted. Then the monkey begins to let go, and suddenly sees that the walls are self-created, the realms are self-created. She breaks through into open space.
This work is based on the Mount Ruapehu Eruptions of 1995. There is no mention in the text of which mountain it portrays so is a suitable work at any such an event.
This piece has been performed in the Great Lake centre in Taupo and in schools around the country. It has been studied for NCEA Level One, along with others of the composer’s for Levels One through to Three. It has a very spiritual feeling to the music and an international sensitivity.
The score contains the analysis/education resource for this work.
Tabuh Pacific was composed as a lively dialogue between two diverse instrumental ensembles, the symphony orchstra and the Balinese gamelan. Like the orchestra, the gamelan is a large ensemble of multiple timbres, primarily percussion.
The pitched elements of the gamelan gong kebyar are tuned to a five-note scale covering several octaves, and each member of the ensemble plays a limited number of single pitches. Consequently, the music of one individual in the group is meaningless until it weaves and blends with the other players to create a multitude of intricate, delicate patterns. These patters (kotekan) shift and interlock in subtle, graceful combinations which are occasionally articulated by the booming resonance of the largest gongs, and the drums which signal time and sectional changes.
Tabuh Pacific is sort of concerto for two orchestras which take turns in displaying the types of sounds with which they are traditionally associated – the gamelan, bright and energetic or smooth and flowing; the orchestra, heavy and romantic or transparent and static. The groups alternate for a while and then come together in a crazed romp at the end of the piece.