Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Oliver Mtukudzi's Ndakuvara:
What Kalimba? What Key?

If you haven't seen the tip for Tuesday, December 4, in which I first wrote about Oliver Mtukudzi's incredible song "Ndakuvara," you might want to check that out now. Over the next several weeks, we'll be learning how to play Ndakuvara.

Ndakuvara is played on guitar. E major is a good guitar key, and to a lesser extent, so is its relative minor, C# minor, which is the key for this song.

Now, when you try to play along with some music, you need to have your kalimba in the same key as the music, or you need to listen to the song, and then translate to the key of your kalimba (a non-trivial thing unless you know a lot about music).

I found this video of the Oliver Mtukudzi song, and totally by chance the only kalimba in my bedroom at the time was one that I had just taken apart and put back together, without tuning, and it just happened to be in C# minor. It worked beautifully, especially after I fine-tuned the notes that were off. As my wife Deb says, "Luck counts."