Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Primal Karimba

Primal Karimba
The 8 notes of the original karimba, with the number of each interval (i.e., 1 = root, or "Do", 5 = 5th, or "Sol").

Andrew Tracey, Hugh Tracey's eldest son, wrote a paper in the early 1970s that made the case for THIS TUNING being the original tuning of metal-tined kalimbas in southern Africa some 1300 years ago. These notes, in this order, are found at the heart of several different traditional thumb pianos in southern Africa. Read about Andrew's work in the middle of this interview from 2008.

In the 1990s, Andrew arranged for AMI to produce the 17-note African-Tuned Karimba, a more advanced instrument. But the 8 notes of this Primal Karimba are at the heart of every traditional Karimba song.

I used to call this the student karimba - and it is that. Anyone who wants to learn the full African Karimba can start on this simplified instrument. Last week, I taught a group of 4, 5, 6, and 7 year olds a simple song on this instrument (we'll see that next week), so it really is a karimba for students.

But perhaps more important than that is the fact that this instrument and the music that is played on it is a direct link to the mind of Africans some 1300 years ago.