As always, I was very pleased to receive a call from Martin Doyle via Skype this morning. The distance between Martin in Ireland and myself in New Zealand is very close to 12,000 miles. Skype allows us the illusion that we are sitting across the kitchen table from each other and so we chat regularly and sometimes play music to each other. Today our conversation went something like this:
“Good morning Martin.”
“Good evening Shardul – just a minute…”
… Martin disappears briefly and reappears with an instrument that I at first thought was a bouzouki …
Martin proceeded to play some lovely tunes on his brand spanking new cittern – a beautifully made ten string instrument with a spruce sound board, walnut body and rosewood fretboard. It looked stunning and sounded amazing! Martin commented on its quality and simplicity.
Over the years I have watched and listened to Martin sing, play whistle, Irish flute, baroque flute, concert flute, banjo, mandolin and bouzouki – now the cittern. In my opinion, he is a very good musician who plays music from his heart and soul with a real love for quality of sound.
“What attracted you to the cittern”, asks I.
“Always liked it!” says he, strumming away. “But I ordered one from Nikos after seeing a YouTube clip of a young lass playing one of his instruments. Its a really beautiful piece of music that she composed herself – see if you can find it.”
So I did and here it is:
‘Sumurun’ played by Helen Marshall on a Nikos Apollonio Bell Cittern.
As with many compositions, we find that there are some interesting stories behind Helen’s lovely piece of music. Have a look at Helen Marshall’s letter to Nikos Apollonio and also the description below Helen’s video clip on YouTube – that’s where you will find the rest of the story.
Martin and I finished our conversation in this fashion:
Martin: “Oh, gotta go – Ronan Browne just came online – I’d better play this instrument for him too… then I’m off to a session…”
Anyways, Martin Doyle has a cittern and for that fact alone, the world is a better place. 😉