Wild Blue Pixel
TIP OF THE DAY
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
In the past, I've always shaped my nails in a boxy sort of way. This is great for the Alto, it is great for making glissandos, and it is great for the even more widely separated notes of the pentatonic kalimba. (You can see in this thumb nail that the glissandos have eaten a groove in the center of the nail - if it gets too far, you should flatten the nail shape out again, or else it will be difficult to play single notes.)
Just recently, I've been playing a whole lot of treble kalimba, thanks to my Dm-tuned Treble, "Blondie". I will begin to share with you tomorrow why I think this tuning is so fantastic! However, I have always had trouble playing the Treble. The Treble is Paul Tracey's favorite, and while I don't really know about Hugh Tracey, the fact that the Treble was the first kalimba he built to sell indicates to me that the Treble may have been his favorite too. I've always thought the tines were too close together. What did Paul and Hugh know that I didn't know?
You know, sometimes it takes you about 20 years to figure something out. The other day, I changed the cut of my nails, making the nail come to a point rather than a blunt boxy cut. One of my students has been cutting his nails that way for a long time, so I tried it. Know what? My treble playing is much cleaner.
When you are a beginner, you don't know what you want to play, so you can be sloppy and play 2 or 3 tines every time, and it will always sound pretty good. But if you have a specific melody or geometrical pattern in mind, you really want to make your thumbs produce what your mind wanted. And NOW, with my pointing little thumbs nails, I CAN do that on the Treble kalimba.
But there IS a downside: I'm also finishing up the CD that goes with the Pentatonic Book - if you play the Pentatonic, you might want to stick with the boxy nails!