Just Added: A Flute Maker/Player Dyad

Martin Doyle, Desi Wilkinson and Elizabeth Petcu

Martin Doyle (flute maker), Desi Wilkinson (flute player) and Elizabeth Petcu (essayist).

In 2002, as the final semester essay undertaken to gain her Masters Degree in Music, Martin Doyle’s good friend Elizabeth Petcu wrote ‘A Phenomenological Study into the Experiences of a Flute Maker/Player Dyad’. With her kind permission, this essay has been reproduced on Martin Doyle Flutes.

This phenomenological study is an interesting and illumining insight into the relationship between a flute maker, Martin Doyle, and a flute player – in this case the renowned Irish traditional musician and music scholar, Desi Wilkinson.

The following are excerpts from Elizabeth’s essay.

From the introduction:

Discovering a flute maker’s workshop in my local town a few years ago enabled me to combine my lifelong fascination for woodwork and wood turning with my love of flutes and flute playing. Under the allure of the atmosphere in the workshop and listening to the philosophising of the maker, caused me to be curious about the “ingredients” contained in the instruments. I wondered if the experiences of the maker, as he worked, could be converted into a more tangible form. The phenomenological approach, also recently discovered, suggested itself as being a possible way to reveal the powerful, unspoken psychological processes and energies which I could palpably feel in the workshop.

Regarding the flute maker:

The depth of love and enthusiasm for the characteristics of cocus wood were obvious. Cocus wood seemed not only to be able to offer as comprehensive a list of possibilities as either a maker or a player could wish for, but by its very preciousness, prompted responses of respect and awe from both. The maker said:
“t’s something, isn’t it? I love it. I think it’s really beautiful. People shy away from it because it’s expensive. What I like about cocus is, it seems to have the best of every world in it. Cocus is my favourite timber at the moment.”

Regarding the flute player:

About as instantaneous as these positive reactions were his concerns about the possibility of the key work on the future flute diminishing the tone of the instrument or creating an irritating clicking sound.
He hoped it would be easy to play and described how he had to work hard to get his other flutes to play as he wished.
He said that he would rank the range of expression a flute could offer him most highly on his wish list. “I’m looking for a responsive instrument, that can play different types of music.” He expressed his high expectations in anticipating a new instrument:
“I’m expecting this flute to take me to another level. I’m expecting the instrument to allow me to play out of my skin, to make me a better flute player.”
He spoke about wanting a flute to suit him. He wanted to recreate the feeling when he got his first flute. He hoped the instrument would call him to play. He expressed his respect for the maker’s ability.

And in summary:

In summary, it could be said that all four “participants” in this study (i.e. the maker, the player, the researcher and the flute) had the same aims for their work. If the aim of research is as Kenny (1996) tells us, “to learn, to understand, to improve, to change and to grow,” it seems as if all involved shared these desires. I include the flute at this point, as it seemed to take on a personality and become almost alive. Being made of organic material gives the wooden flute the power to become involved in the process of growth and change. A willingness to promote growth in one’s life is an essential part of becoming a therapist, according to Corey (2001).

The full essay can be viewed here: A Flute Maker/Player Dyad – by Elizabeth Petcu »

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