Man plays piano to soothe hungry monkeys in Thailand’s abandoned cinema

26 November 2020, 13:53 | Updated: 26 November 2020, 14:35

Paul Barton plays piano for monkeys
Paul Barton plays piano for monkeys. Picture: YouTube/Paul Barton

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A barrel of monkeys invite a man and his piano into their unusual habitat: an old, abandoned cinema.

A pianist and his furry friends monkeying around at the ivories is doing the rounds, for anyone who needs a smile today.

Paul Barton – who recently went viral for a poignant video of himself playing piano to his daughter over five years – captured the moment on film after discovering an old, abandoned cinema in Lopburi, Thailand.

Curiously, the cinema had been taken over by macaques, a breed of Old World monkeys who are normally fed by those visiting the province, usually at the ancient site of Phra Prang Sam Yod – or, more fittingly, ‘Monkey Temple’.

“Many years ago, the owner had a dream to build a cinema in her hometown,” Barton explains on his YouTube video. “It was a big success with the locals – but only for a short time as the macaques that live at the ‘Monkey Temple’ next door, took a liking to her cinema, and collectively took control of it.

“They were so well organised and determined, the owner, outnumbered, had no choice but to abandon her business and just let the macaques take over as they wished to.

“The owner has since given the macaques her building as they like to sleep there and shelter from the rain, so much.”

Read more: Cat has a tiny piano which he plays when he’s hungry >

But because of their sporadic feeding, the long-tailed macaques have been going hungry. So, Barton decided to see how the animals might react to some gentle Bach.

He said: “It’s possible that the music can play a part of the rehabilitation process.”

As he plays a piano transcription of the ‘Adagio’ from Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C, the four-legged creatures nestle around the instrument to enjoy a moment of music together.

Barton has serenaded the macaques with a range of music including ‘Greensleeves’, Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’, and Michael Nyman’s Diary of Love. Some of them climb on his head as he plays, which we’re assuming is the monkey equivalent of a standing ovation.

Read more: Pianist dad documents daughter’s musical journey from baby to five years old >

“An old macaque came to say hello and offered her hand in friendship. It was unexpected and I felt moved she ever-so-gently accepted me and a piano into her home.”

He told Reuters it was a “wonderful opportunity to see wild animals just being themselves”.

“I was surprised to play the piano and find they were actually eating the music as I was playing it, pulling the stool to pieces.”

Paul is currently on a ‘Music for Monkeys’ tour in the Lopburi province.

A wholesome, musical tail to remember.