The Different Voices series on Ireland’s Newstalk 106-108 FM radio station continues with The Music Tree – a documentary featuring the Irish flute maker Martin Doyle.
Martin Doyle in Tanzania.
As a young man, Martin Doyle travelled from his native Bray in County Wicklow to Africa. He was employed as a ships engineer for a couple of years – a job he took to raise much needed funds to purchase expensive tools and machinery for his dream of developing a flute making business in the early 1980s. The hard work and time away from Ireland paid off, and as the years have passed, the dream has blossomed into a reality.
Now an established and highly respected flute maker living in County Clare, Martin decided to revisit East Africa where African Blackwood (Mpingo as it is known in Tanzania), the timber that Martin makes most of his flutes from, is grown. There he hopes to visit the forests where the Mpingo grows, to meet those whose livelihoods depend upon it. He also hopes to make an Irish flute with the help of local craftsmen in a Tanzanian workshop – quite possibly a world first!
Martin Doyle at the workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. From left: Martin, Focus Senga, Salim and James Laizer.
Martin Doyle is to feature in a radio programme to be called The Music TreeNewstalk. The project is being headed by Nina Perry (who also produced Sounding Post which looked at the use of wood for instruments and featured several instrument makers including Martin Doyle) for Falling Tree Productions. […] The Music Tree is to accompany Irish flute-maker Martin Doyle from County Clare to Tanzania where he plans to demonstrate Irish flute making so that accomplished local craftsmen might learn his skills to boost the economy surrounding this rare wood and, for the first time, hear the sound of instruments made from the local blackwood trees.
Nina Perry has very kindly offered this update on the trip:
“Nina Perry takes a musical journey tracing the wood used in making musical instruments back to the forest, from an Irish flute maker and a Los Angeles-based guitarist to the Mpingo Conservation Project in Tanzania.” – BBC Radio 4.
Unfortunately Sounding Post is not currently available online ( since early 2015, it can be heard here: Sounding Post ). The two excerpts that have been added to Martin’s web site feature Martin talking about flute making and playing music on a ‘fresh off the lathe’ flute. The tune that Martin plays during the course of the interview is called Na Ceannabháin Bhána.
And on that note, here is a video clip that offers another version of Na Ceannabháin Bhána played by the late Kitty Hayes (concertina) and Clare piper Peter Laban (Uilleann pipes). Recorded in May 2008 at Miltown Malbay in County Clare, Kitty and Peter play two slip jigs actually – the afore mentioned Na Ceannabháin Bhána and also Hardiman the Fiddler. Enjoy…