Martin Doyle is currently visiting Tanzania with Nina Perry of Falling Tree Productions to make a radio documentary called The Music Tree for the Irish radio station Newstalk. The Music Tree will feature Martin Doyle as an instrument maker visiting the area of East Africa where the Mpingo (African Blackwood) trees grow. Since the nineteenth century African Blackwood has been a timber favoured for woodwind instruments as its density, tonal properties, stability and durability are incomparable.
This trip is in its own way an historical occasion as many of the local people of Tanzania, some of whom are involved in burgeoning Mpingo conservation projects, have never before met a European craftsman who uses their timber to make musical instruments. Martin accomplished the task of making a flute with some of the local Mpingo carvers on the third day of his visit and by all accounts they were enthralled when it was played to them.
Nina Perry is kindly authoring a blog dedicated to the trip – Music Tree – so that we distant onlookers can keep abreast of events. No story, small or large, is complete without a picture or two, so here is one from Nina’s blog:
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: