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Monkey Trips

for chamber ensemble including non-western instruments and slides

Year:  1995   ·  Duration:  35m
Instrumentation:  2 wind, 2 strings, piano, 2 percussionists, non-western instruments

Year:  1995
Duration:  35m
Instrumentation  2 wind, 2 strings, piano, 2...

Composer:   Annea Lockwood


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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.

Commissioned note

Commissioned by the Walker Arts Center

Contents note

in five movements

Performance history

Performed by Lontano, conducted by Odaline Martinez