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 one of several instrument makers interviewed in a feature radio programme called Sounding Post. Produced by Nina Perry – an independent radio producer, composer and sound designer from London who produces features with Falling Tree Productions for BBC Radio 4, Sounding Post will be airing on May the 9th at 11 am (GMT), and looks at the use of timber in instrument making around the world.
Nina Perry’s ‘composed feature’ Sounding Post traces a musical journey from the instrument-makers’ workshops and music studios of Europe and America, via the woods of southern England across to the mpingo (African blackwood) conservation project of Tanzania. The relationship that each individual in the process – forester, craftsman, musician and environmentalist – has with the wood reveals insights into our feeling for nature, the materials we derive from our surroundings and the irresistible impulse to express ourselves musically.
From an Irish flute maker, Martin Doyle, an English Luthier, Martin Bowers, luthiers supplier David Dyke and a Los Angeles based guitarist, Laurence Juber, to the English forester Martin Charlton and members of the Mpingo Conservation Project in Southeastern Tanzania and Scott Paul of the Greenpeace MusicWood campaign, we hear about the sonorous qualities of different species, the increasing issue of maintaining sustainable supplies and the people who connect the music to the tree.
Sounding Post also features some great acoustic music which includes Martin Doyle playing wooden flute.
Martin Doyle playing one of his own keyless D flutes made from African Blackwood with a sterling silver tuning slide.