Category Archives: Personal Experiences

Finding Your Instrument

We recently received a message from our Kiwi friend Shardul that ran thus:

“Hi Martin,
The attached article was posted on a blog that has now gone the way of the dinosaurs, struck by the asteroid of disinterest. It is about my own experience and views on music, the importance of finding an instrument that suits ones nature, needs and abilities, and how I got started playing the flute – which is where you come in to the picture. Anyway, if you feel that it is a story worth telling, perhaps your blog would be a good home for my humble scribblings. I shall leave it in your hands to do with as you wish.
Kind regards,
Shardul.”

And so, we present…

Finding Your Instrument

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be blessed with the wonderful ability to get music out of just about any musical instrument they lay their hands on? (I have a friend who I swear could wring a tune from a damp sponge if he wanted to!) Then there are those of us who, though devoted music lovers, struggle to express ourselves even on one instrument. The later is my category – or so I thought.

“Music; the greatest good that mortals know, and all of heaven we have below.” – Joseph Addison.

Premik Russell Tubbs

Premik Russell Tubbs – a life-member of the ‘musically gifted creed’.

For those who are left in awe of the musically gifted creed, we may be doing them and ourselves something of a disservice. First of all, we have not witnessed the many hours of practice that these ‘fortunate maestros’ have put into their music training. Some survive on raw talent but most have to work hard at it. Secondly it is a fatal mistake to compare oneself to others – probably the numero uno inspiration killer – because we develop the ‘Oh, I could never ever be like that’ syndrome! We are all unique and carry within us the quintessential seeds of creativity. Thirdly, for those of us whose creativity-seeds are still in the early stages of germination, there is the thought that we may not yet have found our instrument – that divine implement that was made ‘just for me’, perfectly suits our personality and allows the creative outlet that we have always yearned for. There is truth in this – I know it for a fact because it took me some four and a half decades to find the instrument that I did not even know I was looking for!

So I write with the intension of encouraging kindred-souls who are still holding to the hope that they may yet get a chance to play the music that they hear and feel inside their hearts and minds. Here is my story …

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The Day We Went To Sligo

September 26 this year saw Martin Doyle attend the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music where he had been invited to have a instrument makers stall and offer a workshop on Baroque flute making.

Martin Doyle's stall at the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music, September 2015

Martin Doyle’s stall at the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music, September 2015

Reflecting on the event, Martin commented that he had a wonderful time, met some lovely people and attended some excellent workshops and recitals.

Recital at the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music

Recital at the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music

One of the people who really impressed Martin was the Czech flute player Jana Semerádová, whose Baroque flute master class and recitals Martin attended. Here is a video clip of Jana performing:

Jana’s playing brought forward the zen-like aspect of Martin’s persona and he fervently loosed forth the following paradoxical quote:

“When you hear a musician playing the flute, it becomes difficult to listen to the same being done by a flute player.” – Martin Doyle.

Martin was also very pleased to meet Colin Booth, the British harpsichordist and harpsichord maker. Here’s a video clip of Colin playing the harpsichord:

Martin was so impressed with the harpsichord that on returning home, he bought one! The sweet tones of the Baroque era now float across the green fields and narrow laneways around Rannagh in the County Clare.

Martin would like to thank the Sligo Festival of Baroque Music organisers for inviting him to the festival. He would also like to thank Vivian and Lizzy Kinsella and their daughters Charlotte and Isabella, whom he stayed with while in Sligo, for their kind and generous hospitality.

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A Poem for Nuala Níc Con Iomaire – by Biddy Jenkinson

Martin Doyle has a page on his website entitled In Praise of Wooden Flutes which presents a poem of the same name by Martin’s friend Biddy Jenkinson. Biddy, an Irish poet, short story writer and dramatist who writes in the Irish language, also sent Martin a poem that eulogises their mutual friend Nuala Níc Con Iomaire who passed away in July of 2010. That poem, Nuala, is reproduced below.

Nuala Níc Con Iomaire

Nuala Níc Con Iomaire – 2005

Nuala

Duine ar dhuine chuir na ceoltóirí a gcuid uirlisí ina mboscaí.
D’imigh go leor don bhus deiridh.
Lean fuíoll an tseisiúin ag dordán is an halla ag éirí fuar.
D’imigh gach éinne ar deireadh, go siléigeach.
Ach níor fágadh cathaoir gan scáil air ná gloine gan cuimhne láimhe inti.
Bhí anam an cheoil fós ag suaitheadh an aeir nuair d’éirigh do ghlór go huaigneach.
Guth na muintire i sciúch an aoin.
Béal binn.
‘Dia leat, a stór!’

– Biddy Jenkinson.

Messages regarding Nuala’s life and passing can be viewed here »

Martin Doyle To Attend Sligo Festival Of Baroque Music

The Model, SligoThe three day 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music commences on September the 25th and Martin Doyle has been invited by the festival’s organisers to attend as an artisan exhibiter and to offer a flute making workshop.

Martin has been making simple system Irish flutes since the early 1980s and his first batch of Baroque flutes were crafted in 2000. Modelling his Baroque flutes on an eighteenth century Rottenburgh flute design, Martin has made several batches since and generally uses either boxwood or African Blackwood.

Martin Doyle Baroque Flute made of Boxwood

Martin Doyle Baroque Flute made of Boxwood

The 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music is being held at The Model in Sligo and Martin Doyle’s Flute Maker Workshop begins at 11 am on Saturday September the 26th.

More information here: 2015 Programme of Events »

Martin Doyle’s role in Becoming Jane

If you read the previous post, you will be aware that Martin Doyle spent a couple of weeks visiting friends (and making more) in Christchurch, New Zealand, over the 2014 Christmas period. On arrival Martin was quite ill with a heavy cold that he had caught in Clare the day before he left, which incubated very nicely during the 36 hours of air travel he had to endure to reach the far side of the world.

It is a matter of fact that bugs also like to travel and so it came to pass that Martin’s Kiwi friend and host Shardul caught a downgraded, second-hand, left-over version of the vicious and virulent virus. Life went on like this for a few short (and sometimes long) days and while the two were in convalescere mode one night, it was decided that a good movie would help clear the head-fog. The conversation revolving around which movie to watch went something like this…

Shardul: “Hey Martin, can you recommend a movie? I think we need to zone out for an hour or two.”

Martin: “Have a look at Becoming Jane.”

S: “Never heard of it. Is it any good?”

M: “Of course it’s good – I’m in it!

S: “You’re in a movie?!?

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Martin Doyle performing ‘Father O’Flynn’ in New Zealand

In the final three weeks of 2014, Martin Doyle abandoned the Irish winter for a well earned vacation in the form of a first time visit to New Zealand and the unique experience of Christmas in a sunny southern summer. After an epic thirty-six hour journey via London, Abu Dhabi and Sydney, Martin finally arrived in Christchurch which is in the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island. During his stay in Christchurch, Martin was involved in a couple of informal music sessions that were held at The Lotus-Heart vegetarian restaurant.

Informal music session at The Lotus-Heart.

Informal music session at The Lotus-Heart. From left: Shardul, Martin, John and Jade.

Martin also enjoyed a visit with local musicians Jade Bell and John Wood who live at Fisherman’s Point at the southern tip of Lake Ellesmere. Jade and John perform as a folk duo around Christchurch and were also involved in The Lotus-Heart sessions.

After a delicious meal that was kindly prepared by Jade, the musicians played tunes on the patio in the shade of a lovely old tree. Here is a snippet from that session – a sweet jig known as Father O’Flynn.

Hungarian Irish music group Bran release new CD

Martin Doyle has for many years had a close association with the members of the Hungarian Irish music group Bran and has travelled to Hungary on a number of occasions to take part in Irish music festivals to offer flute workshops and inspiration. Two of the members of Bran, Gáborján Kovacs and Judit Kuti, play Martin Doyle flutes and Martin has often commented on the enthusiasm that the Hungarians have for Irish music and of the joy and inspiration he has received from his association with Bran and the Hungarian Irish music festivals.

Birds' Day - a new CD from BranBran has recently released a CD of Irish tunes that are linked by the common theme of ‘birds’. The title of the CD is Int én Bec – Birds’ Day – Rigmadár (‘Birds’ Day’ in Irish, English and Hungarian) and it is a delightful offering of simplicity, purity and joy that are distinctive features of Bran’s music.

A sample track, Birds At The Fairy Fulling, can be heard here »

And here is a video clip featuring the music of Bran: