February 12, 2021

Blog
Mark Holdaway

Maurice White’s “Evil Tuning” – Using African Sensibilities in Pop Music

Maurice White of the R&B/Funk/Pop band “Earth, Wind & Fire” came out of Chicago at the same time the AfroHarp was being made. He surely held an AfroHarp in his hands. But Maurice White was following the lead of  his kalimba mentor, Phil Cohran. Cohran had an African-made pentatonic-tuned kalimba. Unlike the AfroHarp or the karimba, Cohran’s kalimba had the tines all on the same level. That speaks to the diversity of traditional kalimbas in Africa. Maurice White couldn’t find a traditional African-made instrument like Cohran’s. Instead, he found the Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba, in a diatonic “Do Re Mi fa So La Ti Do” tuning. Maurice quickly retuned the

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

African Music on the 10-Note Kalimba in C

A great many people now own kalimbas made in China.  These kalimbas apparently were created with an intent to play western pop songs. However, you can also play traditional African music on them… and I will show you how. It turns out there is a traditional 8-Note karimba that is particularly important in the evolutionary tree of African kalimbas. It is thought to be the original tuning, the grandmother of the African-tuned Karimba and the mbira dzavadzimu. I call it the Student Karimba and Andrew Tracey, Hugh Tracey’s son, called it the  “Original Mbira”. The notes on this 8-Note instrument are arranged differently than the new 10-Note kalimbas, but the

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

My Favorite Tuning from 70s Afropop star Francis Bebey’s Kalimbas

Look up Francis Bebey on YouTube. He made great, diverse, charismatic groove-based music in Cameroon in the 1970s. Many of his songs featured his kalimba playing. He also played guitar, and sang. But often, he led his band with kalimba and singing. To my ear, each of Francis Bebey’s kalimba songs used a different kalimba tuning. (He was the opposite of Maurice White, who seemed to use the same tuning on all of his songs.) My take on that: each of Francis Bebey’s kalimbas had a different tuning, and each played different music. Each of his kalimbas had a different song. One of my favorite Fancis Bebey songs is “Breaths”,

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

The AfroHarp – Another Neo-African Kalimba in 1970 American Culture

In the 1970s, Black Pride was a huge thing. And it should be now too. But I think most Black people have done their part. Now, it is the White people who need to appreciate and understand Black Pride, without fear and without offense. I for one understand that when I appreciate the beauty of African culture, I find it very hard to be racist or to put Black people down categorically. Kalimba culture is something that can lift up Black people, can lift up non-Black understanding and an appreciation of Black culture, and can certainly make the world a better place. The rich cultural diversity of Africa was torn

Read More »

Search Blog

SUBSCRIBE AND GET A FREE EBOOK

Sign up for our newsletter and free resources with your email address:

We pinky promise not to spam you and to only send good stuff.

Recent posts

ASK DR. KALIMBA

Get an expert answer to your kalimba question!

MOST POPULAR

FEATURED PRODUCTS