The New Student Karimba Book
How to Play the Original African Mbira

student karimba book
The new Student Karimba book:
52 pages, CD included, $20.

While you read, why don't you Listen to Sadza Madya Here, one of the traditional African songs you can learn from this book.

The first written words describing the kalimba came in 1586 when Portugese Father Dos Santos documented an 8-Note instrument played in Mozambique. At that time, the kalimba was already an ancient instrument. Andrew Tracey says he knows how that 8-Note Kalimba was tuned (Read his justification for this.) Given that those eight notes keep popping up in the center of other traditional African thumb pianos such as the kankobela, the karimba, and the mbira, it is easy to go along with his assertion that these eight notes actually represent the original African mbira from about 1300 years ago.

While you can get 15- or 17-note karimbas, 22+ note mbiras, and all sorts of kalimbas (including the 8-Note kalimba tuned to "do re mi fa so la ti do"), until now this 8-Note karimba has been almost invisible. Kalimba Magic is the only supplier of the 8-Note Student Karimba.

student karimba book
Student karimba tuning.

Why would anyone want to play the 8-Note Student Karimba? For one, you can play the same sort of music that was played by African minds and hands over 1000 years ago, which is pretty cool. For another, the 8-Note Student Karimba is perfect for children to pick up. It is a much less expensive instrument than the full karimba, and is an equally valid way to connect to ancient African culture. And it is a gentle way to get your feet wet with African music, as the songs you learn on it can be easily translated on the full karimba, played with more notes and more variations.

Why would you pick this book over other educational resources available for the 8-Note Student karimba? Anything else you might try to find on this instrument is probably in this book.

student karimba book
The basic part of the
traditional Shona song
Sadza Madya Here. The
PDF for the full song
is available here.

This beautiful book contains 16 traditional African songs, ranging from a simple four measure phrase that is repeated to pieces with half a dozen variations. These songs came from four different sources: A. M. Jones' article from 1950 which contained staff notation for two songs, Hugh Tracey's own field recordings (the ILAM archives have been digitized and are available at the South African Music Archive Project for free non-commercial download), and the traditional pieces notated by Paul F. Berliner and Andrew Tracey, most of which came down from the mbira nyunga nyunga player Jege Tapera. Many of the traditional nyunga nyunga songs have a basic part that is rooted in the ancient notes of the 8-Note Student Karimba, so it was easy to translate.

About half the music in this book is traditional, and the other half is split between my modern compositions and exercises that help the player build up to play the traditional music. This book was written with the teacher in mind, and has many ideas to help you teach this music to children.

I hope that this book will start a revolution in the kalimba world, making the 8-Note Student Karimba a popular instrument in the schools and among those who seek a deep and ancient connection to Africa.

I was also thinking about young children when I was writing this book. There are some exercises which I have gotten to work with kids ages 5-10 at my church. Kids as young as 7 or 8 can use this book with a bit of adult guidance, but students in high school will be challenged by the harder songs at the end of this book. The text is directed towards adults, and has lots of great ideas for teaching these songs to kids. I hope that teachers get this book and use it with their students. Feel free to make copies of the songs you are going to learn and pass them out to your class.

You can get the Student Karimba only at Kalimba Magic! OR, if you have an 8-Note kalimba in anotehr tuning, you can change it into a Student Karimba yourself. We expect to be getting some more options for Student Karimbas shortly.

You can get little bits and pieces of this book for free by visiting the Thursday Tips in the upcoming weeks.

The Student Karimba Book is available only at Kalimba Magic!