Kalimba CU

Kalimba Magic NEWS
Volume 2, Number 2

March 1, 2007

In This Issue:



Kalimba Pickups

Percy Mwana

Stay tuned! Percy Mwana's article on kalimba pickups will appear in the next newsletter. And I have the feeling it will be worth the wait.

A new book of kalimba duets and trios

Now Available

Mbira

To celebrate the bonding between friends and lovers playing kalimba music together, I've put together a book of kalimba duets and trios: 31 songs and 72 pages of mostly original songs for kalimba written in kalimba tablature. This book has parts for alto and treble kalimbas, the Sansula, the 9-Note Cloud Nine marimbula, the treblito, the karimba, the pentatonic kalimba, and the 8-Note kalimba. Some of the more advanced songs use different tunings on the two or three kalimbas, thereby permitting key changes, modulations and accidentals.

This book does not have a CD of the songs, but you will be able to download the songs in KTabS format for free from the KTabS website. (Register, proceed to MyKTabS, and look for the Duets KPack; you will also need to download the trial KTabS or purchase the KTabS Reader or the full KTabS program.)

Purchase the new Duets Book

Interview with N. Scott Robinson

Master Hand Percussionist

N Scott Robinson

KM: This month's interview is with N. Scott Robinson, a master of hand percussion. Scott, you've got a great kalimba/mbira website!

NSR: Thanks so much! I'm working on getting some more tunings up there. Joel Laviolette is going to help me with a few of the missing tunings from Zimbabwean instruments. He's traveled all over Mozambique and Zimbabwe and plays many types of traditional mbira. His website has recordings of types such as chi-sanza, munyonga, mbira dza VaNdau, and others.

KM: Scott, you play a lot of different percussion instruments at a very high level - but instead of starting in on the kalimba, I'd like to ask you about the tambourine. One might recall images of the singer absent-mindedly hitting the tambourine against their hip. But you treat the tambourine as a serious instrument.

NSR: In my senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to study music seriously. My main instrument was drumset so I began investigating as many styles of music as I could that drumset was used in - society, rock, funk, jazz, Latin, etc. I felt that I didn't have a chance of being accepted in a college music program unless I played every style of percussion so I began investigating percussion in classical music with timpani and xylophone studies, studied piano to get music theory together, and I pursued ethnic percussion as part of this process.

Richard Graham lived in a neighborhood near me on the New Jersey shore and was recommended, so I went to him and told him I wanted to learn everything I could. It must have sounded crazy at the time as I really had no idea of what I was really trying to accomplish but he introduced me to a whole other world of percussion. Richard Graham was a professional who had studied or played with all of the greats from Airto Moreira, Naná Vasconcelos, Collin Walcott, Badal Roy, to Glen Velez, Dom Um Romão, Guilherme Franco, Armen Halburian, Babetunde Olatunji, as well as many of the great Latin percussionists. He was a guy who knew a lot and shared everything with me. At our first lesson (I was about 17); he showed me the kalimba, berimbau, riq, and pandeiro. I was just knocked out by these instruments, their sounds, techniques, and musical possibilities.

I studied with Richard for about a year and he did everything for me. Besides showing me music, he took me to record stores, places to get instruments in New York (there weren’t any companies making much besides Latin stuff in those days), to libraries and showed me what books to read. From him, I got the basics on many kinds of percussion styles and an approach to being creative.

I ended up at Berklee College of Music for a while where I was surprised no one played the instruments I knew about. At that time (early 1980s), there were few teachers that knew about some of the more exotic frame drums like the riq. I saw Glen Velez in Boston and he just lit a fire of interest in me like few have done before. When I returned to NJ, Richard Graham suggested I go study with Glen Velez so I did and he was very much like Richard to me. He was a real guide in my musical development in a way that impacted other parts of my life.

I think my attraction to playing tambourines intensified around this time. I can remember clearly listening to an Oregon piece with Collin Walcott and just crying because it sounded so beautiful. I realized I would never be able to play something that was considered beautiful on a drumset. But the ethnic percussion was a path for me to reach this goal of playing something that reflected beauty, was more personal, and was at a higher level of musicianship than I was capable of on a drumset.

For me, the tambourines and frame drums offer such a rich assortment of timbres on a small, soft instrument on which I use my fingers as opposed to a large assortment of loud instruments struck with sticks. It fit my quiet personality more so than the drumset did so these kinds of instruments became my focus. The other thing that was going on was my mixing rhythmic and technical ideas on all of these instruments and drumset and jazz were big components in what I was developing on tambourines and the other ethnic percussion.

KM: You were at Berklee in the early 80's? Man I was at MIT and lived at 34 The Fenway, just down the street from Berklee! We must have walked right past each other dozens of times.

NSR: I remember going to several wild parties thrown at MIT frats. Let me tell you, it was quite a challenge for a Berklee student to get through the door!

KM: Scott, you are into the frame drum and the kalimba - have you seen the Sansula? It is a kalimba permanently mounted on a frame drum.

NSR: Yes, I have seen this combo. It works quite well. I started using a large frame drum as a resonator for my kalimba back in 1988 when I was playing for modern dance classes at Rutgers University. If you tune the drum to go with your kalimba tuning, it responds a bit better. The drum increases the resonance and volume quite a bit.

KM: So, your personal musical path seems to deal with beauty and subtlety. That leads us to the kalimba.

NSR: My first kalimba was a Kenyan tourist model that was tuned to a pentatonic scale. My instruction on it was how to play in a creative personal way not how to play any traditional music from Africa. Plus I had a role model at the time for doing that type of approach. I was listening to Collin Walcott’s recordings with Codona and Oregon where he played a sanza tuned pentatonically [this tuning is at the end of the interview]. His instrument was actually a kondi from Sierra Leon. I soon became frustrated with the simple instrument I had and was trying to emulate what I was hearing on those recordings. I got a Hugh Tracey alto kalimba and took half the keys off and retuned it and put on some buzzers. It wasn’t any closer to what I heard on those recordings but it was a world of difference in terms of sound quality, pitch, and what I could do with the instrument. That was my main kalimba for many years and it still is for improvising. I experimented with different tunings but the one I use most is a minor pentatonic tuning. The other thing that happened to me was once I set out on this path of developing a personal and creative approach to using these instruments, I had always found myself in musical contexts where this approach was desired. I played a lot of jazz over the years and jazz musicians were always open and flexible musically to new ideas. There were several musicians that I would pull the kalimba out for and we would improvise special musical moments together. The other context was working with modern dance for about 11 years at Rutgers University in New Jersey. This required me to improvise in very unusual tempii and rhythmic structures and the kalimba worked very well for that.

KM: I have started taking half the tines off of the Hugh Tracey treble kalimba, leaving 9 - I call this the Treblito. But you take half the tines off of the alto, leaving 8. How did you tune your alto with 8 tines?

NSR: Richard Graham showed my how take the 15 notes alto kalimba and take 7 notes off and retune it to a pentatonic minor scale. Then we put buzzers on the back ends of the lamellae. It was really an attempt to copy what Collin Walcott was doing with the sanza. I used to keep it in Ab but found I could sing better by lowering it to G. All of my instruments are set up to be played starting with the left hand in the center and alternating L, R, L, R, etc. to go up the scale. So the tuning I use on it is G, Bb, C, D, F natural, G, Bb, C. I sometimes change one note in the scale to have a different mode.

KM: All of my kalimbas are set up to be played starting with the right hand in the center. I'm right handed. Are you left handed?

NSR: Yes! But I do play most things right handed. For me, setting up the kalimba this way makes it more like a piano with my accompaniment patterns on the left side (like the bass of the piano) and the melody or improve stuff on the right side.

KM: I am assuming this is significant and will follow up on this at a later time.


KM: It seems you have a fundamentally rhythmic way of playing kalimba. How do you also approach the melodic and harmonic aspects of the kalimba as an instrument?

While I was a student in jazz and classical music programs at Rutgers University in the late 1980s, I realized that what I was doing on the kalimba was mainly rhythmic and modal. I was always careful about tuning each lamella precisely and knowing what pitch I was playing, what mode I was in, and if I was in tune with the other musicians. Often, when I heard other percussionists play kalimbas, they would approach it like it were a marimba in terms of playing it melodically in a one note at a time linear fashion. This never really appealed to me because these types of instruments usually have a limited range of notes and are physically arranged in a way that makes it easy to have multiple things going on simultaneously on each side of the instrument. I find it a little awkward to play it purely as a melodic instrument. When I listened to Collin Walcott, I realized that he was also playing in multiple rhythmic style where his right fingers would play a groove on the right side of the instrument and his left fingers would play interlocking patterns on the left side in between what was happening on the right side of the instrument. The resultant parts give the ear the impression that a melody is being played but it is arrived at by playing rhythms. So that is how I deal with melodies on my pentatonic instruments, including my Hugh Tracey. I play it polyrhythmically and modally and the interlocking parts of my hands result in melodic material because the lamellae are tuned to pitches.

As I became more curious about others types of lamellophones and their tunings, I tried to find recordings of as many traditional African types as I could from Tanzania, Sierra Leon, Mozambique, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe. I have always felt that what many of the traditional sub-Saharan African players are doing is similar in that they play their instruments in a rhythmic fashion as accompaniment to a vocal melody. Some of the traditional musics I was checking out had harmonic patterns, so in Shona karimba and mbira dza vadzimu music I was hearing this but found that the overall approach seemed to be about interlocking the hands.

I have become more attracted in recent years to working creatively with some of the traditional instruments in Zimbabwe of the Shona and Kore Kore peoples such as the mbira dza vadzimu, karimba, and matepe respectively. These instruments have an increased range of sometimes as much as 3 octaves and are tuned in ways that are not pentatonic. I had also been improvising on the piano for modern dance classes and had some training in jazz harmony and composition so I understood chord structures and melodic relationships to them. It wasn’t until I started going through B. Michael Williams’ book on mbira dza vadzimu that I realized the heptatonic-tuned instruments are really like a piano in terms of having one hand play a repetitive pattern in the bass register and the other play something melodic on the other side in a higher register. What the Shona players do is more complicated than that, but after learning a few karimba and mbira dza vadzimu songs, I started working with those instruments as if they were a piano and developed a way to improvise on them and wrote a few pieces. Again, I had a context in which to use this kind of playing and was using these instruments and style with Native American flute players R. Carlos Nakai, Mark Holland, Gary Stroutsos, Jeff Ball, and Peter Phippen. I got a few solid body, fully electric, stereo mbira dza vadzimu from Dan Pauli who often puts extra lamellae on so one thing I want to do is work more with original songs while playing these. My latest obsession though is working with an electric ilimba that David Bellinger made for me that has a 4 octave range and a lot of sympathetic lamellae.

When I work with composer and hammer dulcimer player Malcolm Dalglish, it’s a different story. He writes music for choirs with hammer dulcimer and ethnic percussion accompaniment and his instrument and the voices often occupy the higher timbral end of the music spectrum. I find myself often trying to be a bass player in the context of his music by using tuned frame drums, udus, and sanzas to play something in the bass range. He really likes some of my sanzas and asks me to play them often in his pieces but he has a lot of traditional counterpoint going on so there are a lot of chord changes. This makes me have to tune my pentatonic instruments in unusual ways so I have all the pitches and have to play in a way that is unnatural for me to accommodate all the chord changes. The end result is that it sounds great, but I have to really concentrate like an orchestral percussionist in terms of being prepared and executing the parts. It sometimes requires me to start a phrase with my left hand and then suddenly start a new one with the right hand or do odd doublings in some places to execute the part.

So despite my developing a personal approach to playing these kinds of instruments for improvising, I have always had to be flexible musically to adapt to other creative musical contexts that required non-traditional uses of various kalimba, sanza, and mbira.

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N. Scott with his Babies

There are 17 instruments in the above pic:

Left from back forward: mbira dza vadzimu (dongonda tuning) in deze, trio set of mbira dza vadzimu made by Newton Gwara, next to these are 3 more mbira dza vadzimu in different tunings (all from Zimbabwe).
Front center: stereo electric solid body bass mbira dza vadzimu by Dan Pauli.
Right: Hugh Tracey alto kalimba (custom tuning), David Bellinger electric kalimba in Kalimba Magic case.
Back Right: nyunga nyunga (on top of Kalimba Magic case, Zimbabwe).
Center (back): Cuban Marimbula by Dan Yeager, David Bellinger electric ilimba (on top, Tanzania).
In front of marimbula from left to right: sanza, kondi by Rich Goodhart (Sierra Leone, on top, the Collin Walcott sanza), budongo from Uganda, matepe from Zimbabwe by Tschaka Chawasarira.

.

Array Mbira

Electric Array Mbira by Bill Wesley & Patrick Hadley
(didn't fit in the photo with the other 17)

.

KM: Tell us a bit more about your Dave Bellinger ilimba?

NSR: David Bellinger makes fabulous instruments! My David Bellinger electric ilimba is just one of my prized possessions! It has a double keyboard layout side by side, which is common on instruments from Tanzania. I was drawn to Dr. Hukwe Ubi Zawose's music on ilimba and chirimba, but couldn't find much info on him and his instruments. When I spoke to David, he told me he met a researcher who knew Zawose and got his tuning just before he died so I asked David Bellinger to build me an electric version of Zawose's instrument, which has about lamellae. I didn't think he'd be able to come close but he made me just about an exact copy of the Zawose ilimba with a pick up. Mine has 40 lamellae but you only play 20. You play on the outsides of each keyboard and the inner lamellae are all sympathetic so you don't play those. They respond by singing out when you play on the outside areas. The tuning is pentatonic but in traditional intervals to Tanzanian Wagogo music so the intonation does not match Western tuning. There is a chart on my website that shows the tuning. Still it has a 4 octave range which is much larger than I ever had on a pentatonic instrument. It has metal bridges and great brass buzzers and the box is huge. Acoustically, it is very loud and even and that tuning has such a magical sound. Plugged into an amp, it plays like no other instrument I have ever touched. I use a technique on this instrument that works quite well because of the large range. Instead of always alternating my hands (L, R, L, R, etc.), I play in unison but in opposite directions. That means my left hand goes up the keyboard while my right hand goes down and then I interject rapid passages by alternating my hands (L, R, L, R, etc.). Now when I listen to Zawose's recordings, I can find little pieces of what he does by having this instrument in my hands so I am slowly figuring out some of his music.

KM: So, you have an Array Mbira. I would think the Array Mbira is probably something like the Hammered Dulcimer, at least in the way I would play it - find patterns that corresponded to various kinds of chords or chord progressions, or riffs within some chord, learn how to transpose, etc.

SO, it is the same sort of thing as a kalimba - something with its own internal logic that we can interact with to create beauty.

NSR: Yes. I just bought an array mbira. It's not really like a dulcimer as those are mostly diatonic but have a different layout than the left to right keyboard arrangement. The array is more like a lead steel pan with a circle of fifths chromatic arrangment but in a straight line like a keyboard and not haphazard like a steel pan.

I think you're right about the inherent beauty of kalimbas and finiding ways to play them. I play most of my pentatonic ones in a rhythmic fashion as that's what I hear on a lof of traditional recordings - rhythm and melody. The ones tuned to more 6-7 pitch tunings have some harmonic patterns so I tend to play those that way. Personally, I find when there is a lot of harmony, it limits what you can do rhythmically or it gets in the way sometimes as you have to play only certain notes at certain times and only when the chords change. Music based on rhythm and melody (like African or Indian or Middle Eastern) for me is more free.

KM: Scott - I hear that primacy of the rhythm and melody in your recordings. But my personal music puts at least as much emphasis on the harmonic elements - you sort of define the matrix against the melody rhythmically, while I do it mainly harmonically. I understand it isn't traditional (Andrew Tracey reminds me that African music doesn't have chords).

NSR: I am interested in the Array Mbira because I want to be able to play chord changes and explore more of that kind of playing but don't want to be limited to a diatonic or pentatonic tuning. It's also background of a person's musicianship. I started out as a drummer and learned piano later. I think guitar has a lot to offer in learning how to use chords with patterns and shapes. That's what is so great about kalimba - you hardly ever find someone else who does exactly what you do. Every person I meet that plays has a different apporach to the same instrument. It's pretty cool!

KM: You play a lot of pentatonic kalimba - I am a diatonic guy myself, as I really do like the chords. Meanwhile, you are reaching for the full compliment of western notes on your Array Mbira. Do you ever feel limited on the pentatonic?

NSR: One of the things I don't like about pentatonic instruments that go beyond an octave and 1/2 is that all the left hand bass notes end up on the right side in the second octave. I have to greatly adjust my playing on kalimbas that go beyod an octave and 1/2 when playing in the more rhythmic style that I do.

KM: That's where I like them the best. For an even number of unique notes in the scale, you end up repeating the same patterns on the same sides if you go up or down an octave, for an odd number (5 for the pentatonic, 7 unique notes for the diatonic scale) the upper octave is the mirror image of the lower octave. This opens up a lot of possibilities.


KM: Scott, I'm impressed that you've studied with some great people. I myself have never studied kalimba with anyone, and I feel I'm a bit of an orphan. Do you feel your kalimba and mbira music is grounded in tradition?

NSR: My style of playing was pretty much self arrived at. My teachers helped me by explaining how the instrument works and by showing me a few pieces to play on the various instruments I studied. My interest was in developing how to improvise on them and beyond Richard Graham showing me a few things Collin Walcott did, I just developed it myself. I think we both went through a similar process. We both have a solid foundation in music (me in drumming and you in guitar) and draw on that foundation in applying what we know to the instrument. Because of our different backgrounds, we came up with different results in playing style. I think it is important to have some kind of foundation if you are creative. Some people have tried to learn my style but didn't have much of a developed background in music to draw on so it was difficult getting ideas across.

Thank you, Scott!

Here is part of Scott's resume. If you are looking for ideas of what music or what exotic kalimbas to buy, this is probably a good starting point.

Scott studied with:

Scott's influences:

Mbiras and kalimbas Scott plays:

Colin Walcott's Sansa Tuning

NSR: Collin Walcott's sanza playing is on the tune “Mumakata” on the CD Codona and also on “Hey Da Ba Doom” on Codona 3. It's in a pretty low E tuning (E, F# A, B, D, E, F#, A). There is a picture of his instrument on my website in the gallery marked sanza. The can with the strap is his axe.

KM: About Colin's tuning: If you start on D it is D E F# A B --- the major pentatonic scale. BUT the tuning does not have a complete D to D major pentatonic, so that interpretation is de-emphasized.

The relative minor is B, or B D E F# A B -- but AGAIN the complete scale from B to B isn't there.

How do YOU understand this tuning?

NSR: In terms of traditional African musics, they don't have this kind of theory that underlies their music making like we have in the West so you can't really look at such scales purely in Western terms. In figuring it out, Rich Goodhart helped me. He studied with Collin Walcott and built a copy of his sanza, which is really a kondi from Sierra Leone. The tuning is the same as is used on the Gambian donso ngoni 6-string harp that kora player Foday Musa Suso showed me. It's a pentatonic tuning centered on E but it is built of intervals we don't commonly use as a scale in the West. It's basically a major scale without the 3rd and the 6th scale degrees.

KM: OK, I see this scale now: E-F#, then A-B, and D-E are each whole steps, but from the F# to the A is a step and a half, as is from B to D.

NSR: Yes, it is like the Indonesian idea of a pelog tuning in that it is a 5 note scale made up from non-equidistant intervals. The major pentatonic scale is more of a scale built from equidistant intervals.



Reviews of the Karimba Book and the 8-Note Book

Playing the Hugh Tracey Karimba
Mark Holdaway
$20.00

The Best Ever Book of 8-Note Kalimba Music
Mark Holdaway
$20.00
Kalimba Magic

These two publications join a series of instructional texts Mark Holdaway has authored that feature user-friendly tablatures of his invention for notating music for karimbas and kalimbas, along with photos, diagrams and enclosed CDs. In Africa, kalimba-like instruments have existed for at least a thousand years and evolved into hundreds of varieties that reflect different designs and tunings. The Hugh Tracey Karimba is based on one particular version of the kalimba indigenous to the Zambezi basin.

The spiral bound, 42-page Playing the Hugh Tracey Karimba begins with a discussion of the instrument's unique layout, which features a lower and upper row of tines, and an explanation of karimba tablature. Exercises are included, designed to develop familiarity with the instrument's components. Subsequent exercises address performance in 6/8 and 12/8 time, playing “two against three,” building chords and developing arpeggios from the chords, and four different tunings (African tuning, “A” Western Tuning, “G” Western Tuning and Flat 7th Tuning). A variety of tunes are included, which along with the exercises are also performed on the enclosed CD.

The Best Ever Book of 8-Note Kalimba Music can be used on most eight-note piano kalimbas tuned to a do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do scale, such as the Catania 8-note Board (or Gourd) Piano and the 8-note Thumb Drum kalimbas. With some retuning required, a Catania 12-note Board Piano can also be used, ignoring the upper four tines, as can the Hugh Tracey alto Kalimba without needing the top seven tines. Holdaway covers tuning, painting tines on the kalimba to correspond to tines that have been shaded on the tablature as an aid in reading, and basic maintenance, and explains the rhythmic values of the notes written on the tablature. He includes a wide variety of wellknown songs, from “When the Saints Go Marching In” to “Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring,” which, along with the exercises, are also included on the play-along CD. Holdaway's easy-to-understand, step-by-step approach makes these two texts valuable as self tutors. Aspiring karimbists and kalimbists could wish for no better way to help them become proficient on these exotic instruments.

-John R. Raush

Note: John Raush was the director of the percussion program at LSU until he retired, and he has been active with PAS writing reviews of world music books and CD's. He passed away shortly after writing this review, and I feel that he has given me a great gift in these words. He understood what these books are about, and as they are a fundamental departure from other work, not everyone who opens them realizes that this work isn't just a crazy idea. Even though I never knew John, I feel I have been blessed by John's touch.


Playing the Hugh Tracey Karimba
Mark Holdaway
$20.00

I have purchased most of Mark's wonderful and well thought out Kalimba books, the Karimba book and its accompanying CD being my favorite. As a freelance percussionist, the Karimba and Karimba book appeal to me for the beautiful rhythmic patterns, that of course speak to my rhythmic sensibilities. I love the fact that I can play a series of patterns that are not only rhythmic in nature but wonderfully melodic at the same time. What a change for a drummer.

Mark is an excellent kalimba and karimba player and I really enjoy his varied interpretations and accents he applies to the patterns. I can't wait for his next series of books and am grateful for his passion and mastery of a truly enjoyable (and portable) instrument.

-Pat Hickey
hickeyp@comcast.net
Percussionist and Life Coach


Whats New at AMI?

Louise in South Africa reports on what's going on at African Musical Instruments (AMI):

The 8-Note Kalimba is the newest thing in Kalimbas at the moment. More and more people are asking for the pentatonic on a box too. I have asked Sylvester (my new assistant) (yay!) to take over problems and he and Christian and Patrick (our workshop foreman) and maybe Andrew Tracey will sit down at some stage and work out ways of speeding up production, improve quality etcetera. More than that, I can't say at the moment because all our energies in the past year or two have been focussed on improving the Marimbas

[editor's note: AMI was born in the late 1950's and was started by Hugh Tracey to send kalimbas around the world, but today AMI has branched out into modern versions of other traditional African instruments, along with percussion and marimbas. Their marimbas are highly acclaimed in Africa.]



Using the Kalimba in Music Therapy

A Kalimba Workshop
Saturday, April 21st, 2007 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Miraval, a World Class Health Resort North of Tucson
5000 E. Via Estancia Miraval
Catalina, Arizona

Next year, I want the workshop to be “Healing with the Kalimba”, but this year the workshop is “Using the Kalimba in Music Therapy”.

Basically, we'll be looking at all kinds of ways of having fun with the kalimba.

Or, in more detail: in this 5 hour workshop, participants are introduced to a variety of kalimba types and a variety of scales. We'll learn a bit about where the kalimba comes from, because its traditional spiritual uses in Africa suggest ways it can be used today. You'll learn a simple kalimba notation and learn or write a song and perform it. You'll explore games you can play with the kalimba and explore different modes of using the kalimba with creativity work. I'll share a number of informal case studies of people whose healing has been enhanced by or even led by the kalimba, and we'll discuss other possible therapeutic scenarios for the kalimba.

Lunch and kalimbas will be provided, and kalimbas, books, and CDs will be available at a special workshop price.

Read the flyer for the music therapy kalimba workshop.

Read my poster on case studies of theraputic uses of the kalimba.



LaLa (Larry) Georgeson, Percussionist and Visionary, 1956-2007

LaLa and Mark

LaLa on drums, Mark on recorder

Before the dream of Kalimba Magic came the dreams that LaLa and I had for our duo Room for Magic. The name of our music group came to us when we were discussing about improvisational music, as opposed to the set type of music which is often played commercially. I said “Yes, we've got to leave room for magic.” And LaLa said “We can turn ANY room into a room for magic.” And my mouth dropped open. That was our name.

LaLa was a big thinker. Huge. If you've ever brainstormed, you know that one of the rules is “Don't rule anything out - let the ideas come no matter how crazy or improbable.” Well, that was LaLa. He could have benefitted from a team of a dozen organized workers helping make his dreams come into reality, or at least sorting through the ideas to figure out which ones would work and which ones wouldn't. He approached every task and every performance with huge confidence, and I must say that some of that rubbed off on me.

LaLa played washboard, drums and shakers and rattles of every kind, and several different kalimbas, while I played string instruments, recorder, and kalimba. We both totally understood rhythm and swing and the rise and fall of energy in music. We only played from Halloween 2000 to Easter 2002, but we forged a lasting bond. LaLa, you will be missed.

I Ain't Gonna Write This Song About You, I'm playing guitar and mandolin, LaLa is playing washboard.

Castillo, I'm playing mandola, guitar, and bass, LaLa is playing udu and a beaded vase rattle he made.

LaLa and Mark

Krakatoa also has a web page for LaLa



Kalimba Magic Catalog

Well, it's more of a price list than a catalog.



The Kalimba Community

Kalimbas on Tiles

I need to add David Bellinger to the Kalimba Community. David builds electric kalimbas, including the ilemba that N. Scott Robinson plays, and his web site is http://www.ekalimba.com

Kalimba Club Meets Again! We are doing the Kalimba Club at my house Thursday March 15. If you don't know how to get to my house, give me a call at (520) 881-4666. We'll start at 7:00 pm.

Percussion Day in Oakton, VA
The Percussive Arts Society, Virginia Chapter, is having a Percussion Day at Flint Hill School in Oakton, VA on March 10. I've sent one of my electric pentatonic kalimbas and a book for a raffle prize.


Kalimba Music in Hawaii, March 5
Studio Be 63 N. Beretania St. / (808)779-1019
Monday, March 5, 7:00pm

Join Kalimba Master Mark Holdaway for an evening of kalimba music, instruction, and jamming in Honolulu. Find out more about the kalimba, an instrument of African origin. It is inexpensive, portable and a lot of fun to play. Bring your kalimba - learn and play with us! Small sliding scale donation appreciated, but no one turned away for lack of funds.


Kalimba Reviews: Do you have a special understanding of a particular kalimba? Perhaps you have a special tuning, or you have modified your kalimba in some way? Or you just really dig this certain kalimba, and you feel you are the person for this kalimba? You might just be the perfect person to write a review for that kalimba. If you are interested in reviewing a kalimba, please contact me!

Tip of the Day: The Thursday tips deal with some featured kalimba and, as of yesterday, that would be the 8-Note Kalimba. We've hinted at some of the things you might want to do with the 8-Note, and we'll range from the simple to the advanced over the next few months.



In the NEXT Newsleter...

If you have any questions, or if you have suggestions for future newsletter topics or Tip Of The Day ideas, please share them with me! -Mark

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