Double bass (Frank Healy) and flute (Martin Doyle) in action.
As recently posted on this weblog, Martin Doyle featured on a radio programme called The Music Tree. As the The Music Tree is about the Mpingo (African Blackwood) tree and its popular timber that is used extensively for the production of woodwind instruments, one of the requirements for the programme was some Irish traditional music that was predominated by the Irish flute. This task fell upon Martin Doyle to organise.
Asides from making great Irish flutes, Martin is also an Aikido instructor who offers classes at the town hall in Liscannor, County Clare – the Aikido group is known as Clare Aikikai. One of the many wonderful aspects of the County Clare is that music is an integral part of the culture there – musicians, singers and story tellers abound in Clare as they do all over the west of Ireland. And so it is with Martin’s Aikido group. Four of the members are strong traditional musicians so Martin got them together after an Aikido session one evening and they recorded a very nice piece of traditional music – and The Aiki Céilí Band was born!
The Aiki Céilí Band consists of Martin Doyle (flute), Éamon McCarthy (flute), Frank Healy (double bass) and Gabrielle Cappachione (guitar). Featured on The Music Tree documentary, the piece consists of two reels and can also be listened to here: The Aiki Céilí Band – Flute Music »
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 bound for the East African nation of Tanzania this coming August to take part in the production of a radio programme.
Tanzania is home to the famed Mpingo tree from which the highly valued timber known as African Blackwood is harvested. This wood has been one of the first choices for woodwind instruments such as clarinets, oboes, bag pipes and flutes for over 150 years now, but was also valued by furniture making as far back as the time of the Egyptians. It is a timber favoured for it’s density, durability and exceptional tonal qualities.
Martin Doyle is to feature in a radio programme to be called The Music Tree that is being produced for the Irish radio station Newstalk. The project is being headed by Nina Perry (who also produced Sounding Post which looks at the use of wood for instruments and featured several instrument makers including Martin Doyle) for Falling Tree Productions. This from Nina Perry:
Nina Perry – music, sound and radio.
“The Music Tree is to accompany Irish flute-maker Martin Doyle from County Clare to eastern 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.”
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.