Kalimba of the Month
The Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba

"The first kalimba I ever saw was the Treble kalimba my father sent me while I was in England at boarding school," says Paul Tracey. "It was made of metal." While Africans did make kalimbas out of metal boxes or metal fuel cans, I personally am glad that Hugh Tracey decided to use kiaat wood instead. But the underlying story is that the very first Hugh Tracey Kalimba was the Treble Kalimba. In Paul Tracey's mind, the Alto was made to accompany the Treble, but the real kalimba was the Treble.

Comparison of Treble to Alto Tuning
Alto and Treble kalimba tunings

In my mind, the Treble kalimba is more difficult to play than the Alto. Its tines are smaller, they are closer together, and it has 17 tines, more complex than the Alto's 15 tines. In addition, its lowest note is B, or the 3rd note in the key of G - it doesn't start on the root note. OK, that's the downside.

But the Treble Kalimba has some great upside too. The smaller tines are closer together, and it is easier to play the Treble faster than the Alto (assuming you aren't too clumsy, in which case the Alto may be a better choice for you - but after 20 years of loving the Alto, I have graduated to the Treble).

As the Treble is smaller than the Alto, it also has a higher range: the high note on the Treble is a 5th above the Alto's high note. These high notes make the Treble soar. If you are playing with guitars, you may find that the Treble Kalimba cuts through the noise and gets your playing noticed. I find that I can actually play this one at drum circles and be heard, especially if I use a gourd or a bowl as a resonant amplifier.



The Treble Kalimba in action

The Treble Kalimba has a fair amount of instructional material available. It is one of the troika of ruling diatonic kalimbas: the Alto, the Treble, and the Bb Treble. Kalimba Magic collections, such as the Easter Hymns, the African American Spirituals and the Advanced Christmas Carols will soon be available for all three of these kalimbas. To learn more about educational resources for the Treble Kalimba, check out the How to Play the Treble Kalimba page of our website, but note that this page hasn't been updated for about 10 months, and newer Treble material has become available since then. We will be updating the page over the next few weeks.

Hugh Tracey Treble
17-Note Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba

Now is a great time to purchase a Treble kalimba from the Kalimba Magic Shop because we are offering a Mothers' Day Special for the entire month of May 2009. The package includes a Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba, plus the Treble Fundamentals Book and Mark Holdaway's CD Two Thumbs Up (a $147 value for only $125!).

Of course, you don't have to be a mom to take advantage of this special. You could give this kalimba to that special mother in your life—and if you would like me to write a special note for mom, just provide that note in the Special Instructions field when you order from The Kalimba Magic Shop. OR you could just get it for yourself!

Lots more info on the Treble Kalimba can be found on the How to Play the Treble Kalimba page of our website.