Films, Audio & Samples
Robbie Ellis: Howler Monkey...Embedded video
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Sample: Page 8, 9, 12, and 13See details ➔
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It was the first half of 2014 when I discovered the subject of this piece – the second-loudest animal on earth, after the blue whale. I was probably just browsing Wikipedia when I saw the genus name and amusing combination of syllables ‘Alouatta’, and identified that word as a rhythmically driving, almost primal bed for a choir piece.
With a commission for my old high school choir Voicemale on the horizon, I bumped into its conductor David Squire at the Auckland regionals of The Big Sing 2014 and pitched him my idea: “Five words: choral infotainment about howler monkeys”.
He grinned, and so did I. After all, we were going to have 60+ teenage boys sing about monkeys. Heeeehehehehee.
Influences include the music of Latin America (mariachi, cumbia, bossa nova and tango); John Psathas and his coterie of kickass percussion soloists (Pedro, Evelyn, Lenny, Jeremy etc); Demetrius Savelio (aka Savage); my own piece for violin/viola and shouty chorus called Ha!; Bruno Mars’ opening drum solo at the Super Bowl XLVIII Half Time Show; nearly every video of howler monkeys to be found on YouTube; my own head’s cliché of what death metal is; dubstep; bad puns; general primal-ness; and the Second City Training Center Writing Program.
Thanks to David Squire and Warwick Robinson for suggesting edits and forcing cuts, ultimately making Howler Monkey a tighter and tauter piece of writing.
Commissioned by Westlake Boys' High School for the choir Voicemale.
High school, community, university
Text by Robbie Ellis. English, with a small amount of French.