A deafening and almost annoying silence surrounds me while I am about to write. Suddenly comes out the typical Sunday’s lunch time music, some doors are being opened, a clangor of pots and dishes arises from the adjacent flats, sounds of shuffled chairs with childish chatters and chases at the upper floor.
I am at the desk of the small two-rooms flat in Padova street, downtown Milan, where I lived on my own from 2001 to 2008 and where I have come back, temporarily since 9 months yet, waiting to move to the new house. I was staying there when a PVC tube 150 cm long entered in June 2002, and I am still here, more than 10 years after, at the moment of Treebeard’s arrival (almost 5 meters of Italian wood and 100% Italic manufacturing). A sign of destiny? I wouldn’t say, but for sure it’s a wonderful coincidence to find myself in the same house where it all started.
I look at my “historical” didgeridoos, and my glance turns towards Siluro, then it falls and finally ends on Treebeard. I am spellbound and thoughtful at the same time. Treebeard’s presence makes this house even smaller and highlights the didgeridoo-path covered in these 10 years: from a hydraulic pvc-tube to a tree-instrument! A didgeridoo shepherd, to paraphrase “The Lord of the Rings”.
Myself and Treebeard met on November 2nd 2012 and with its arrival I had the feeling to close a circle and open another one; with him I finally have all my fellow travelers and I can explore with no more hesitations the planet music. I still have so much to learn, but with Treebeard’s arrival I feel, as a Didgeridoo player, I have come to age.
I recall the conversation I had with Matteo Bellini AKA Platydoos (Treebeard maker) some weeks before. We have been both lucky.
Myself, I found a friend, clever manufacturer, yet mainly keen and available to embark on such an adventure, where the starting point was known but not the arrival. A travel to be faced first of all with heart and feelings, as only Matteo can do.
Matteo, he met a person not just interested in the purpose, yet mainly willing to live a story-trip to be carried out together with the manufacturer and the instrument. A crazy fellow….was the expression used by Matteo….actually, it is not enough to be a player, one must have something strange to ask for such an invention.
I am writing a torrent of words, nevertheless I entertain serious doubts to succeed in turning into written words the sensations and the fascinating, intense and long odyssey which this instrument and its gestation represented for myself and mainly for Matteo Bellini (Platydoos) and his family (Platy-girl Patrizia and daddy Franky).
Treebeard's journey started on July 5th 2010. A Mantuan coypu, infiltrated in Verona area since quite some time, realized that in a poplar grove several trees (pay attention: trees, not branches) have been uprooted by a strong storm. The coypu, squealing off, straight away rushed to report that new to master Matteo Bellini, who immediately went to the poplar grove, in the outskirts of Sorgà.
It was immediately understood which commitments, efforts and sweat would have been required by those woods. Matteo spent a full day just to load the trees and carry them to his burrow; he had to draw them one by one for over one hundred meters, being not possible to enter the poplar grove with his van. At this link http://www.jackazzara.eu/raccolta_05_07_2010.JPG Matteo and the trees the same day of the collection (Treebeard will be the second from the left). Later on, the trees were laid down in the seasoning “room”, where they had to fallow for two years.
Treebeard’s acorn came to light in 2011 during Siluro's making. With Siluro we created a special instrument but not a deep-didgeridoo, which was our initial aim. Therefore, even before finishing Siluro, Matteo and me already sowed the seed for the next epic instrument.
I can’t exactly remember the date, maybe on July 22nd 2011, Siluro's arrival day, I was invited in the seasoning “room” and I found the trees, collected one year before, lying down, as if they were having rest. After a short indecision moment, I chose the tree that had to become Treebeard. The actual manufacturing started in April 2012 with the barking and the creation of the bell. As for Siluro, the bell had to be made tout court, but with plane-tree boards. The manufacturing of the bell was the part requiring more time and efforts.
On Saturday 07th of July 2012 I went to Castel Dario to visit my friend, the manufacturer, and see the compañero. I remained impressed by the quantity of sawdust I found on the ground and a working tool went broken due to the intense use, an event never happened before.
Once ended and literally carved the bell, for me it was time to decide where to split the tree. As for Siluro, for reasons of space and convenience, I could not leave the instrument as a single piece but I had to split it in at least three parts. While choosing where to make the split, I was led by the tree itself and, after having looked at it for some minutes, two areas draw my attention more than others. A that point Matteo split the tree and started the work on the central part and above all on the manufacturing of the pins to connect the three parts which had to form Treebeard.
The pins have been lathe-turned by Franky, Matteo’s dad. To make them, he used some aluminums tubes of the same diameter, carving one on the outside and the other one on the inside, keeping the same diameter over the entire length of the pin itself. To guarantee an efficient hermetic seal, in order to avoid air leakage, a notch has been made on the males, to house a rubber ring.
On September 15th 2012 I returned to visit Matteo at his home in Castelletto Borgo. It was a crucial day because we had to decide Treebeard’s length. The bell and the central part were finished (excepted the decoration) and to simulate the first part we used a hydraulic pvc-tube. After several trials, I decided the first piece had to be between 150 and 190 cm long.
At that point I came back home and started thinking of the decoration colour, but mainly of the christening name. You are probably wondering which was the sense?? Wasn’t it already named Treebeard?? Yes it was, but until the middle of October 2012 I did not even know how to call it! I spent one year to think about how to christen it and I could not find a name. Suddenly, like a blade in my psyche, a sentence, told by Matteo several months before, arose in my mind “dear Jack it will be like playing a tree”. At that point time expanded and contracted. It was like an endless moment, at the end of which I burst saying TREEBEARD. At that point, another fortunate intuition came: I asked to Matteo to involve his sweet love, Patrizia, to decorate Treebeard.
Matteo and Patrizia accepted with pleasure, also because that initiative of mine allowed them for the first time to artistically work together. The last two weeks were the most anxious for both parties. I found myself like a child at two weeks from Christmas, but Matteo and Patrizia wanted to make – not a beautiful work – yet a masterpiece and so the fateful date had to be postponed twice. On November 2nd 2012 I left Milan at one o’clock p.m and at 3 p.m. I arrived to Castel Dario where I found nobody waiting for me. After 10 minutes I received by phone some indications to reach a place. Once arrived on the spot, I found Matteo waiting for me at the side edge of the road. Behind him a poplar grove where I had to get in, for a treasure hunt.
I advanced in the poplar grove and started to look around, I went on slowly, the day before it rained but that day was beautiful and sunny. The ground was adequately wet and soft, with a good taste in the air. I kept on walking until I glimpsed, in the distance, leant to a tree…another tree! I got closer and closer and I started to focus….that was what I found in front of me http://www.jackazzara.eu/barbalbero1.jpg
Like for Siluro, Matteo was not in lack of a touch of poetry. He chose, for the place where to take me, the cradle where it was collected the tree from which Treebeard was born.
Next moment are simply magic and pure emotion:
You can get other pictures clicking here http://www.platydoos.it/Gallerie/Realizzati/00-12/index.html
As it can be seen by the pictures, a tree with many leaves was drawn along the didgeridoo. The tree was created by Matteo with a sort of putty (but more liquid, to allow spreading) made of glue, chips, wood dust and with a colouring agent. After having spread it and left it dry, it looked like mud, but once sand-papered it left the wood inside uncovered, creating a beautiful bark effect. The over 100 leaves have been painted and hand drawn by Patrizia. Our Platygirl has first drawn the contour of the leaves. Further on, upon Matteo’s suggestion, she treated the inside with a white base for wood. Finally, she hand painted them with a brush, using acrylic colours.
I say good bye to you, leaving to you no technical specification of Treebeard excepted the length 490cm and the base drone (the A 27Hz, i.e. the lowest key of his majesty the Piano).
I initially wanted to know everything of Treebeard, which were the keys of the drone, of the toots, of the first piece, of the first+second, of the second+third etc. but, as I started to use the tuner, I had the impression to waste time and, above all, to try and “classify” something wild, brave and free. Treebeard was born to be played and to get you lost in his mazes, and I just need to try and try myself without any map or theory. I only wish to let the energy, the air, the music flow within our enchanting and fully Italian didgeridoo shepherd.