18 August 2017

Get a Kalimba for Yourself... and a friend

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

A special offer makes it easier to have oh-so-much fun together

Get a Kalimba for Yourself... and a friend

Playing the kalimba can be a profoundly personal journey. Playing takes me within myself, like taking a deep breath and diving to the bottom of a clear and peaceful pool. The diversions and annoyances of the world evaporate, leaving me with whatever problems, challenges, successes and joys that may come up between me and my kalimba.

But, often, as players we like to share that deep space with another special person. A grandmother wants to play with her grandchild, or a father wants to play with his child. A high school student wants to play with her best friend. And players may want to share their kalimba playing with a lover.

08 August 2017

Bea Lorenzo Plays Kalimba to Support Her Vocals

Written by Bea Lorenzo, Posted in News and Announcements

This Manila-based singer-songwriter has sunk her teeth into the Chromatic Kalimba

Bea Lorenzo Plays Kalimba to Support Her Vocals

[Editor's note: Bea has taken the Facebook world by storm with her evocative vocals and her simple but righteous kalimba playing. You should get to know her now, so you can say you knew about her way-back-when.]

 “I believe I speak for an entire generation of self-taught individuals when I say that the Internet allows us to take the initiative in building new skills. I spent a lot of time browsing websites including Kalimba Magic, before purchasing my own kalimba. So by the time I finally had the kalimba in hand, I had stocked up enough knowledge ready to be put into practice."

12 August 2017

Mbira as an International Character

Written by Klara Wojtkowska, Posted in News and Announcements

Is it Cultural Appropriation?

Mbira as an International Character

Editor's note: Klara is a valued contributor to the Kalimba Magic blog. She is currently spending some months in Zimbabwe developing her mbira skills, and has given us another rich, intelligent and stimulating piece; here she considers the sensitive cultural issues around her endeavor. The Bridge that Klara writes about (the Machipisa Foot Bridge in the city of Harare) was first built in 1998. Its journey from a very scary place to what it is now is discussed in the two articles linked at the bottom of this page. These articles, from local periodicals, give a rare glimpse into life in a faraway place, and it's where Klara is living and learning right now. Photos and informative video included.]  

The week that I came to Zimbabwe I was invited to perform under a bridge. The Bridge is an interesting contemporary cultural artifact; blessed by His Excellency Himself, it was built across a particularly dangerous bit of road in Highfield, the high-density suburb from which hail many of the political revolutionaries of pre-Independence days as well as the celebrated and revered musician, Oliver Mtukudzi. The Bridge swirls up from the ground on one side of the road like an artful ice cream cone, stretches its spine across the street, and then lands gracefully in a concrete pirouette on the other side. The Bridge is a testament to the human desire to make things better for ourselves.

Yes, I, a white European woman, was invited to play traditional karimba, in Zimabwe, under The Bridge...

13 July 2017

My Journey With the Karimba

Written by Quincy Nichols, Posted in News and Announcements

Quincy Nichols Shares How the Karimba Has Become His Spiritual Companion

My Journey With the Karimba

[Editor's note: Quincy is a student of the African karimba, and he writes poetically and eloquently here, celebrating his experience playing the instrument.]

The karimba is my friend... a patient, patient friend. There is wisdom in the karimba - it's an old friend helping to lead me back to myself.

It is a layered instrument, helping me to uncover and express thoughts, feelings, emotions, and dreams I've hidden from myself. As an aspiring musician and creative person, the African karimba has helped me to find the courage to express myself.

18 July 2017

Get Your Kalimba Playing Ready for the Holidays

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Christmas Music on Kalimba is so beautiful, and we have books to help you play music like this

Get Your Kalimba Playing Ready for the Holidays

The kalimba is a wonderful instrument for Christmas carols, with a peaceful and angelic sound.  I have spent many joyous hours learning, practicing, and performing Christmas carols on the kalimba.  More importantly, I have spent many diligent hours notating these songs for the Hugh Tracey Alto and Treble kalimbas so that you can also learn to play these carols.

Every year about this time, I get my Advanced Alto and Treble Christmas books out and brush up on my carols.  And each year, I add one or two tunes to my repertoire.  If you want to play Christmas carols this holiday season, now is the time to get an Alto or Treble kalimba, and/or a book (or pull out your old ones), and get practicing!

This post catalogs all of Kalimba Magic's instructional resources for holiday music, including free tablature, along with the kalimbas that work best for Christmas carols.

18 July 2017

Instructional Download: Alto in G minor

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This minor retuning can breathe new life and emotion into your Alto Kalimba

Instructional Download: Alto in G minor

The Hugh Tracey Alto in standard G major tuning has become the standard kalimba in many ways. For 12 years, it has been the best selling kalimba at Kalimba Magic. I have written more instructional books and downloads for this kalimba than for any other kalimba. I know more songs on my Alto than on any other kalimba. And the Alto kalimba was the blueprint for other models such as the Bb Treble and D Treble kalimbas.

But what if the world of G major sounds isn't your world? What if you need something darker, moody, a bit mysterious, rather than that happy-go-lucky Alto kalimba with a smiley face on it?

You might be interested in the G minor tuning for the Alto kalimba - and you might be interested in this new instructional download for the G minor tuned Alto.

18 July 2017

Instructional Download: 8-Note Kalimba in Sansula Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

An exotic tuning on this otherwise vanilla kalimba makes for new and interestng music

Instructional Download: 8-Note Kalimba in Sansula Tuning

The 8-Note kalimba is a great instrument on which to learn, and is usually tuned to one octave of the C major scale. As such, it is a pretty modest kalimba, playing songs such as "London Bridge is Falling Down" and "Joy to the World" (and NOT the "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" version).

If you are willing to retune your 8-Note kalimba, you can greatly increase the amount of music accessible to the 8-Note kalimba.  The standard A minor Sansula tuning is one of the least ordinary tunings you can put onto the 8-Note kalimba - if you do, you won't be playing "Twinkle, Twinkle" anymore! AND if you don't want to retune your kalimba, you can send your old 8-Note to the Kalimba Doctor and we will do the job for you, or you can order a new 8-Note in the Sansula tuning. (I am partial to the Goshen 8-Note kalimba.)

15 July 2017

A Novel Stereo Kalimba Recording Technique

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Two electric kalimbas, plugged in, hard panned L and R

A Novel Stereo Kalimba Recording Technique

This unique recording technique results in lots of separation between the L and R notes in your recording, and you can be very creative when processing their individual sound.

I invite you to hear what it sounds like - headphones would make the separation effect complete, but I think it actually sounds better through stereo speakers. To listen, just continue reading.

13 July 2017

What I Feel When I Play Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

How do you feel when you pick up a kalimba?

What I Feel When I Play Kalimba

Playing kalimba can effect each person in a unique way.  The interaction asks us to commit both to our instrument, and to the song that we are trying to help emerge into the world.  We have listened as players describe what the playing of a kalimba does for them physically, emotionally and spiritually.  The act of making music develops the relationship between a kalimba player and his or her instrument.  And it leaves something behind as well. Just listen to some of our customers.

 

18 June 2017

"Edelweiss" for G, B flat, and D Trebles

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

We provide free tablature, for all three Treble Kalimba setups, of both simple and advanced versions of the famous song

The song Edelweiss from "The Sound of Music" is a perfect little melody for the Treble kalimba. The first three notes of the song soar up beyond the root note to the 9th. You could play this song on an Alto, and you would have to do it in the lower octave of the instrument. You shouldn't, though, because it sounds so beautiful when played higher up, on the Treble. The standard G Treble and the Bb Treble both have a few notes above the top root note - in other words, these kalimbas were built for melodies like Edelweiss that go "over the top."

22 June 2017

Spotify Playlists with Cool Songs in G, B flat, and D

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Chill, Listen to the playlist that matches your kalimba key, and jam along!

Spotify Playlists with Cool Songs in G, B flat, and D

My life changed when I lost my record turntable 20 years ago - I basically stopped listening to music. For me, this turned out to be a good thing, because the music-generating radio station "KMRK" started broadcasting 24 hours a day inside my head. I am always creating new music, or recycling and recomposing Katy Perry.

But that isn't the point of this post. Rather, I have discovered Spotify (maybe late to the party, but better late than never!) And I have rediscovered my love of listening to recorded music (as opposed to the stuff that grows like weeds in my cerebral cortex).

I love to hit a big juicy playlist with a kalimba in my hands. The only trouble is, most of the songs in the playlist will not be in the same key as my kalimba. And so I am very familiar with the NEXT SONG button.

17 June 2017

Octaves on Kalimba, Karimba, and Mbira

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Becoming conversant with octave pairs is an important part of learning your instrument

Octaves on Kalimba, Karimba, and Mbira

Do you know where the octave pairs are on your kalimba?

The octave is the most fundamental interval in essentially any music. Octave harmonies are not rich, but they are powerful. If your kalimba has eight notes or more, you likely have one or maybe even several octave pairs. Learning which note pairs are an octave apart, as well as how to use the octaves in playing, are essential to becoming a good kalimba player.

20 June 2017

More on Marek Bolf Kalimbas, made in Slovakia

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Words from a happy customer, and from Marek Bolf

More on Marek Bolf Kalimbas, made in Slovakia

Says one happy customer about her Marek Bolf kalimbas: "From the moment I lifted it out of the box and began to play, I immediately ordered the other two instruments. The reason? The design of the karimba is gorgeous!"

Says Marek Bolf himself: "I found an exciting potential in the kalimba, since it is played as easily as sending a text message on your phone. And so, I began to produce and explore the possibilities and limits of the instrument which I love."

 

19 June 2017

Understanding G, B flat and D Treble Kalimbas

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Have you ever wanted to get clear on the differences between the various treble kalimbas?

Understanding G, B flat and D Treble Kalimbas

One of my best contributions to the kalimba world (in my humble opinion) is the concept of the Bb and D Treble kalimbas. These are alternative ways of structuring the standard G Treble to make it more like the Alto kalimba, but pitched higher. Making a Treble kalimba more like an Alto makes the Treble easier to play and simpler to understand. The Alto's note layout is more logical, and any song that you can play on the Alto can be played on the Bb or D Trebles, so any instructional resource for Alto can be used for these two Treble tunings, and there are more resources for Alto than for any other kalimba.     

 

24 June 2017

How the B flat Treble Kalimba Got Its Stripes

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A "Just So" Story, with thanks to Rudyard Kipling

How the B flat Treble Kalimba Got Its Stripes

My very first kalimba was a Treble. I had actually just come from a friend's house who had an Alto, and we'd all played the Alto and loved it - but when I went to the drum shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts back in 1986, they only had the Treble, with the 3rd note of the scale in the lowest tine (and not the root note, as in Altos). I bought it, but somehow I never really bonded with the instrument. A few years later, I got an Alto kalimba, and it was like day and night! I understood the Alto, with the root note as the lowest tine, and its range of exactly two octaves. (That is, the lowest note was "Do" of "Do Re Mi", and the highest note was also "Do", two octaves up.) With the Alto kalimba now in hand, my Treble was set aside. It eventually went to live with a friend, while I developed my long love affair with the Alto kalimba.

19 June 2017

Repetitive Patterns: Creating Music with Kalimbas in Different Keys

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Playing unmatched kalimbas in succession can make beautiful and unusual music

Repetitive Patterns: Creating Music with Kalimbas in Different Keys

Why do people acquire kalimbas in different keys? To be able to support specific songs they or others sing, or to be able to play with other musicians with flexibility. Sometimes people buy a kalimba in some particular key just because they really love its sound.

But can you use kalimbas in different keys together? By creating a simple song that uses different-keyed kalimbas, not played together but in succession, yes you can! 

 

14 December 2015

Today's Deals: Best Savings at Kalimba Magic

Posted in News and Announcements

What are the best Coupon Codes that will work today?

Today's Deals: Best Savings at Kalimba Magic

It is my intention to keep this page up to date with the best Kalimba Magic coupon codes, good whenever you check the page. Here they are:

  • TREBLE25 - gets 25% off any TREBLE Kalimba expires 6/30/2017
  • HT16 - gets 16% on Hugh Tracey Kalimbas

31 May 2017

What you get when you buy an Alto Kalimba from Kalimba Magic

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A great kalimba, 30 years of my kalimba playing experience, and considerable love

What you get when you buy an Alto Kalimba from Kalimba Magic

Every time I ship a kalimba, I play it to make sure it is all just right.  And as I play it, I make a little prayer, that the person who gets this kalimba will come to love and understand their little instrument.  But I do much more than just pray.  I send out as many keys to the doors of understanding as I can.  We stack the odds in favor of success.

16 May 2017

New Kalimbas from Marek Bolf

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The "Kalimba Musical Instrument" company Hits a Home run with 9-, 11-, 13-, and 15-note kalimbas

New Kalimbas from Marek Bolf

 Marek Bolf makes very clean, precise and beautiful board-mounted kalimbas. His company in Slovakia is called "Kalimba Musical Instrument."  (Yes, that's correct, there's no "s.") These flawless kalimbas have a sweet, uniquely spacious sound, are available in a variety of woods, and hold their tuning better than most kalimbas.

Says Marek: "We take an individual approach to every kalimba, we guarantee an original and unique nature to each and every instrument."

27 May 2017

The New Hokema Sansula Elektra

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The kalimba community has been asking for an electric sansula for a decade. It's finally here!

The New Hokema Sansula Elektra

The new (2017) Sansula Elektra is a quality, amplifiable version of the Hokema Sansula Renaissance.  The amplification system of the Elektra is rather sophisticated: a piezo-electric pickup gets the wood vibrations while an internal microphone catches the air vibrations of the sansula. These signals are mixed together optimally and sent out through a 3-prong XLR cable to your phantom-power-capable PA system, mixing console, or recording console. The Elektra does require phantom power; you can't simply plug this one into your guitar amp without going through a direct box with phantom power. But the sound?  Totally worth it!  And with your amplified sansula, you can compete volume-wise with loud instruments in a band situation and you're quite mobile and not stuck next to a microphone when performing. 

27 May 2017

Handpan Tunings and Sound on the Roots Production Mini-9 Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

These are so sweet, so cool...

Handpan Tunings and Sound on the Roots Production Mini-9 Kalimba

People have always had a soft spot for Andrew Masters' Roots Production kalimbas. You are taken by surprise by the clear, mellifluous sound.  Part of that is the "underdog effect" - how could something made from a sardine tin sound this good?

People have often compared the soft metallic sound of Roots Production kalimbas to that of the handpans such as the Hang. A handpan is a modern steel drum shaped a bit like a wok with a lid on it. It is not played with mallets (like steel drums), but rather, a handpan must be played softly with the hands.

Now, Kalimba Magic (with the help of one creative customer) has put the exotic handpan tunings of the Hang-9 Kalimba onto the Roots Production Mini-9. The result? Simply delightful! 

15 May 2017

Simple Mbira Music for Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Stylizing this archetypical mbira music makes it simple to play on Alto Kalimba

Simple Mbira Music for Alto Kalimba

For the first 15 years I played kalimba, something about it confused me.  Even though my Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba came in a box that said it was an African instrument, when I played the kalimba, the music that naturally came out was more like folk and rock and classical music.  My kalimba played the music that I knew and loved and understood.

Americans get very little exposure to African music. For the last ten years, I have been slowly moving toward getting to know, and understanding, African music, with the goal of being able to (someday) play African music on my kalimba. 

In this post, I show you step-by-step how to play a cool yet simple traditional African progression on the Alto kalimba. 

28 May 2017

Different scale, different feel - new realms on the Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Shifting the emphasis by one note gives your music a new emotional color

Different scale, different feel - new realms on the Alto Kalimba

Can you play the major scale on your kalimba?  "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do?" Your tuning might not permit this scale - the pentatonic scales and the Lotus tuning are both missing some notes.  Many kalimbas can play the major scale.  Find that scale on your kalimba now if you can.

Just by shifting the starting point of the scale by one note, we are going to show you how to create a totally different scale on your kalimba.  Instead of G major on the Alto, we will play a type of A minor scale.  Whatever kalimba you do have, this post can open doors for you too, so read on.

09 April 2017

Introduction to Karimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This article explains this rich but confusing instrument

Introduction to Karimba

The first thing that is confusing about the karimba is that people assume its name is a misspelling of "kalimba."  When I say "karimba," I am referring to the traditional instrument that Andrew Tracey described as the "original mbira" from 1300 years ago. The name "karimba" can also refer to one of the new tunings we have derived from this ancient instrument.

It certainly can be confusing:  does this instrument have 8 notes, 9 notes, 13, 15, or 17 notes?  Yes to all!  What key is it tuned to?  Great question!  Let's not view these issues as problems, rather let us see them as opportunities.

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