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:
Martin Doyle is visiting Tanzania with Nina Perry of Falling Tree Productions at the moment. Nina is making a radio documentary called The Music Tree for the Irish radio station Newstalk and it features Martin Doyle as an instrument maker visiting the area of East Africa where the famous Mpingo (African Blackwood) trees grows. Since the 19th 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 (where internet connection allows no doubt) 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. Here is one from Nina’s Music Tree blog:
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 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 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.
Nina Perry has very kindly offered this update on the trip:
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 looked at the use of wood for instruments and featured several instrument makers including Martin Doyle) for Falling Tree Productions. This from Nina Perry:
“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.”
Given today’s environmental issues that are increasingly being highlighted by global warming, Martin Doyle has always tried to be conscious of the use of power and timber in his work. As an instrument maker who uses timbers such as African Blackwood and Cocus for the flutes he makes, Martin has long supported The Mpingo Conservation Project – an NGO that aims to conserve endangered forests by promoting sustainable and socially equitable harvesting of African Blackwood (mpingo) and other valuable timber stocks.
To power his house and workshop, Martin has opted to use environmentally friendly electricity supplied by Airtricity – a fully integrated renewable electricity utility specialising in the development and long term ownership of onshore and offshore wind farms. The Group currently has almost 400MW of generating capacity in operation across Ireland and Scotland, with a further 400MW in construction and to be operational this year.
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into useful form, such as electricity, using wind turbines. In windmills, wind energy is directly used to crush grain or to pump water. At the end of 2007, worldwide capacity of wind-powered generators was 94.1 gigawatts. Although wind currently produces just over 1% of world-wide electricity use, it accounts for approximately 19% of electricity production in Denmark, 9% in Spain and Portugal, and 6% in Germany and the Republic of Ireland (2007 data). Globally, wind power generation increased more than fivefold between 2000 and 2007. Read more…
Martin Doyle is proud to be making woodwind instruments using wind power.