Irish flautist Eimear McGeown has just returned to Ireland from the Budapest Flute Academy in Hungary and she stopped in for a quick visit with Martin Doyle at his workshop in the County Clare today. As is often the case when musicians get together, one thing led to another and this took place…
We recently received a message from our Kiwi friend Shardul that ran thus:
The attached article was posted on a blog that has now gone the way of the dinosaurs, struck by the asteroid of disinterest. It is about my own experience and views on music, the importance of finding an instrument that suits ones nature, needs and abilities, and how I got started playing the flute – which is where you come in to the picture. Anyway, if you feel that it is a story worth telling, perhaps your blog would be a good home for my humble scribblings. I shall leave it in your hands to do with as you wish.
And so, we present…
Finding Your Instrument
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be blessed with the wonderful ability to get music out of just about any musical instrument they lay their hands on? (I have a friend who I swear could wring a tune from a damp sponge if he wanted to!) Then there are those of us who, though devoted music lovers, struggle to express ourselves even on one instrument. The later is my category – or so I thought.
“Music; the greatest good that mortals know, and all of heaven we have below.”
– Joseph Addison.
For those who are left in awe of the musically gifted creed, we may be doing them and ourselves something of a disservice. First of all, we have not witnessed the many hours of practice that these ‘fortunate maestros’ have put into their music training. Some survive on raw talent but most have to work hard at it. Secondly it is a fatal mistake to compare oneself to others – probably the numero uno inspiration killer – because we develop the ‘Oh, I could never ever be like that’ syndrome! We are all unique and carry within us the quintessential seeds of creativity. Thirdly, for those of us whose creativity-seeds are still in the early stages of germination, there is the thought that we may not yet have found our instrument – that divine implement that was made ‘just for me’, perfectly suits our personality and allows the creative outlet that we have always yearned for. There is truth in this – I know it for a fact because it took me some four and a half decades to find the instrument that I did not even know I was looking for!
So I write with the intension of encouraging kindred-souls who are still holding to the hope that they may yet get a chance to play the music that they hear and feel inside their hearts and minds. Here is my story …
The three day 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music commences on September the 25th and Martin Doyle has been invited by the festival’s organisers to attend as an artisan exhibiter and to offer a flute making workshop.
Martin has been making simple system Irish flutes since the early 1980s and his first batch of Baroque flutes were crafted in 2000. Modelling his Baroque flutes on an eighteenth century Rottenburgh flute design, Martin has made several batches since and generally uses either boxwood or African Blackwood.
The 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music is being held at The Model in Sligo and Martin Doyle’s Flute Maker Workshop begins at 11 am on Saturday September the 26th.
More information here: 2015 Programme of Events »
The following video clip features a traditional Irish children’s tune called The Dingle Regatta being performed by Cairde Chualann at the 2013 All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Derry. Cairde Chualann is a group of traditional musicians and dancers who hail from the counties Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare. The group has several flute players who play Martin Doyle flutes and we are told that there were three six-keyed, one nine-keyed and one keyless flute being played in this piece. The harpist is Claire O’Donnell who accompanies Martin Doyle (flute) playing a lovely tune that can be heard here: The Blue Hills of Antrim »
Enjoy the music…
Some recent additions to Martin Doyle’s website:
Martin Doyle recently sent a flute to Russia and, after some initial delays, it finally reached the hands of its new owner who kindly expressed his joy with these words:
Hello, Mr Doyle!
I finally got the flute and it is incredibly beautiful! You are an expert in beauty and the sound is perfect! I have never seen and never played a flute easier than this one. This is a work of art for me!
Lately I’ve been studying a lot about the relationship between geometry and the sound of flutes. But the strong D of this flute – a mystery to me. I do not know how you manage to do this. This flute permits me to do the impossible! Unfortunately, I don’t quite know very well English, to tell you my impressions! But, believe me, it’s endless! I have very long dreamed of a flute like this and now the dream has come true!
In the interests of serving those who play simple system flutes, Martin Doyle has added fingering charts for simple system keyless D flutes to his website. Printable PDF versions of the fingering charts are also available to download.
These fingering charts are inspired by the fingering charts published by Johann Joachim Quantz (1697–1773) in his treatise On Playing the Flute which was first published in 1752. Martin Doyle studied Quantz at the beginning of his flute making career and found On Playing the Flute to be a great source of inspiration and information regarding simple system flutes and eighteenth century music in general.
Martin Doyle’s fingering charts can be viewed here: Fingering Charts For Keyless D Flutes »
While Martin Doyle essentially designed these fingering charts, a huge THANK YOU has to go to our good friend Asankita in New Zealand for patiently and diligently creating the fingering chart graphics (as per above) that are now on Martin’s website. Thank you for your many kindnesses brother – you are in line for sainthood!
Martin Doyle has long dreamed of making flutes using timbers that have been produced in environmentally friendly and socially equitable modes. In recent years, Martin has been involved in a number of projects that have highlight a movement toward that reality and he has participated in the making of three radio documentaries highlighting the sustainable use of African Blackwood – Mpingo as the valued tonewood is known in east Africa. Martin is the first flute maker to produce an Irish flute from FSC certified African Blackwood having received a small amount of the timber some months ago.
This week Martin received his first full shipment of FSC certified African Blackwood which prompted the following comment:
“The arrival of this timber gives us the feeling of working in a sustainable environment that is genuinely beneficial to the people of Tanzania and we are very happy to be participating in a chain of events that has a positive outcome for everyone involved. It’s a great joy!”
Martin thinks that this shipment of timber has been harvested from the sustainably managed Mpingo forests around the village of Kikoli in eastern Tanzania – an area Martin visited during his trip to Tanzania in 2009. Martin’s plan is to be using FSC certified African Blackwood exclusively from the beginning of 2012 as his present stock of material diminishes. The flutes made from the FSC certified timber will be stamped accordingly.
Sound & Fair is an organisation that aims to realise a sustainable trade in African blackwood through a Chain of Custody linking forest-dependent people in Tanzania to woodwind instrument musicians throughout the world.
Martin Doyle has recently been featured in a Sound & Fair news item regarding a new batch of Irish flutes that he has produced from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified African Blackwood – a ‘world’s first’ for the flute making community. Martin’s concern for conservation and the conscious use of timber goes back to when he first began working with wood. In the Sound & Fair article he comments:
July 27, 2011Martin Doyle has just received the honour of being awarded first prize in the ‘Musical Instruments’ category of the 2011 RDS National Crafts Competition. The award was for a nine key flute made of cocus wood that Martin finished in April.
Martin drove from County Clare to Dublin with his apprentice Gwenn Frin on Wednesday to accept the award and they were joined at the RDS ceremony by Martin’s long-time friend and Aikido teacher Sean MacRuairi (John Rogers).
Martin Doyle has previously entered his flutes in two craft competitions winning major awards on both occasions. He was awarded the Crafts Council of Ireland Medal in 1985 (with an eight key flute made from African Blackwood) and the prestigious RDS California Gold Medal (overall winner) in 1993 (also with an eight key flute made from African Blackwood). Delighted by the encouragement of winning this years award, Martin had this to say:
We are very proud and grateful to be able to feature two tracks on Martin Doyle Flutes by the accomplished flute player Eimear McGeown. A native of County Armagh in Northern Ireland, Eimear plays both classical and Irish flutes.
This from Eimear’s website:
The Irish culture and tradition has played a major influence in Eimear’s life, starting Irish dancing at the age of three and going on to become a Northern Ireland Champion dancer. Eimear began playing whistle at the age of nine and progressed to the traditional Irish flute a year later having lessons with Sligo born flautist, Séamus Tansey.
Eimear was the Ulster Champion on the whistle when she was eleven years old and later went on to win two All Ireland Champion titles on the Irish flute both as soloist and in a trio with her brother and sister. She performs on the traditional Irish flute regularly including recitals, in the West End Show Lord of the Rings, with folk/rock band Amsterdam, session studio work in London and is currently recording a solo Celtic Crossover album.