26 June 2016

Kalimba Magic.Com - A Primer

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A guide to the Kalimba Magic website

Kalimba Magic.Com - A Primer

Kalimba Magic is the premier website for information about playing, tuning, and taking care of a wide variety of kalimbas. We also have the largest variety of kalimbas available for purchase anywhere. What follows is an overview of KalimbaMagic.com which describes its major categories, gives some description of each one, and has links so you can get there instantly. Kalimba fundamentals, FAQs, history, how-to-play, the buyer's guide, and a great deal more await you!

25 March 2018

John Lennon's "Imagine" On Kalimba

Posted in News and Announcements

The Treble Chromatic is the one kalimba that can do it

John Lennon's

Recently someone told me that playing John Lennon's song "Imagine" on kalimba was a goal of theirs. When I worked through the song in my head - I realized there is only one kalimba sold by Kalimba Magic that can play "Imagine," and it's the Hugh Tracey Chromatic Treble Kalimba.

There is an amazing Russian musician, Natalya Obukhova, who has a YouTube channel called LadyChugun. She plays killer electric guitar, accordion, and... chromatic kalimba.

And this amazing musician, LadyChugun, has figured out a great arrangement on the chromatic, and makes it look easy too. Check it out!

12 April 2018

"Making Lamellaphones" by Bart Hopkin and Richard Selman

Written by Sara Edelman, Posted in News and Announcements

A New Book, Reviewed here by Sara Edelman, is now Available at Kalimba Magic

 

How well do you know your kalimba?  Could you create one? Ever feel the yearning to make your own?

Bart Hopkin, the guru of creative musical instrument sound, design and construction, has written and published a book dedicated to building kalimbas, both traditional and inventive. 

For those not in the know, the term "lamellaphone" refers to any instrument that makes sounds by the vibrating of lamellae (plural of lamella) or plates, and includes kalimbas, mbiras and modern variants – in other words, any instrument that goes "boing” when something thin is struck or plucked.

Hopkin has written 10 other books on building instruments, as well as dozens of articles in Experimental Musical Instruments, the journal he published for 15 years. For more than 4 decades he has composed, arranged and performed guitar as well as music for the wild assortment of instruments that he has designed and built.

In Making Lamellaphones, expect to learn the basics of kalimba and mbira design... the hows and whys of the kalimba and its sound... about mbiras and the people who make them… and get ready to have your mind blown (and a fire lit under you) by the most creative lamellaphones that you will ever experience. 

20 March 2018

Secrets of Walking and Running While Playing Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Grow your health, coordination and chops using this great musical hack

Secrets of Walking and Running While Playing Kalimba

I walk and play kalimba virtually every day. It is part of my morning routine, and it is part of my mental and physical health maintenance. Sometimes, after I've been walking and playing and daydreaming for a while, I realize that I need to speed things up to get my heart beating faster for a better balanced physical workout. To put my body into high gear, I just change up the rhythm of the song I've been playing, very simply and smoothly, without even changing time signatures.

Read on to take in and grasp this subtle yet dynamic tip, along with other key advice on playing and walking for great physical and mental health.

22 March 2018

You too can play "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You"!

Posted in News and Announcements

The Mbira-style Treble Kalimba makes it simple

You too can play

When I get 10 requests for something, I know it's time to sit up and listen. Total strangers to Kalimba Magic were finding their way to my eShop and sending requests for some strange new kalimba setup that was suddenly insanely popular on YouTube.

The kalimba on the Youtube video was not in its factory setting; it was a 17-note kalimba that had been modified by the player.  I could put the Hugh Tracey 17-note Treble Kalimba in that tuning. So indeed, I could fulfill those new requests, and I set about doing just that. And thus was born the Mbira Style Treble Kalimba.

14 March 2018

Have You Learned Some Beautiful Kalimba Music Today?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Get a few of these New and Improved Downloads

Have You Learned Some Beautiful Kalimba Music Today?

As you know, it's hard to resist the beauty of, and the urge to make, kalimba music; that's why you're here! Over many years I have written dozens of books to help a lot of people who want to learn to play these instruments. It's an ongoing project, as each different kalimba needs its own books, and new kalimba tunings and layouts are being invented (and not just by me) all the time. It ends up being a big part of my life's calling, because nobody else in the world is creating anything like this.

But while I am deep in the recesses of KM headquarters doing this, it gets lonely and quiet and I forget sometimes about why I spend my time at it.  So when I got this letter in the mail today, handwritten in pencil, I was thrilled to be reminded:

"Your kalimba tablature method is far superior to any numbers-based systems. Your method is the ONLY way I want to learn to play my kalimba!"

23 March 2018

Interview with Forward Kwenda

Written by Klara Wojtkowska, Posted in News and Announcements

One of the great mbira players

Interview with Forward Kwenda

Klara Wojtkowska is an accomplished musician and has contributed an array of interesting articles to Kalimba Magic. She has recently been abroad studying mbira and living in Zimbabwe.

“Forward Kwenda’s inspiration is deeply spiritual and in a way he sees his role as a musician who channels from a realm beyond our physical grasp. It has been said of Forward, ‘It is almost impossible to believe that one person, playing one time, could make so much music with two thumbs and one finger! Of course, Forward Kwenda, considered by many to be the greatest living mbira player today, says that his spirits play the mbira, not him.’”

23 March 2018

Split Brain - Can your brain do two things at once?

Posted in News and Announcements

Yes, but for most of us it takes some practice

Split Brain - Can your brain do two things at once?

According to general understanding, we can only really concentrate on one thing at a time. But I know that this isn't actually true.

There are two of you (at least!) inside your head - a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere. Most of the time these two sub-brains work together. But our two thumbs are quite capable of doing quite different things from one another.  Probably the most interesting music on kalimba happens when the two thumbs are working independently, but in a coordinated manner.

 

07 November 2017

Easy Alto Download

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This tired old download just got a total rewrite

Easy Alto Download

There are three resources that I have recommended to beginning Alto players: the Alto Fundamentals Book, the Alto Primer, and the Easy Alto Download. I include a free, paper Primer when people purchase an Alto kalimba. The Alto Fundamentals Book is sold only as a hard copy. And the Easy Alto Download, though electronic, used to resemble a pile of music dropped into your lap with little instruction by your crazy uncle. Until now.

I am happy to announce the NEW and GREATLY IMPROVED Easy Alto Download!

If you purchased the Easy Alto Download in the past two years, you can get the new version for free. If you didn't, think about buying the brand new download now. It would be an excellent investment.

24 November 2017

"Si Bheag Si Mhor" on Celtic D Karimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This classic Carolan tune sounds so sweet on the Celtic D

Everyone has their favorite Celtic song. My favorite is "Si Bheag Si Mhor" - pronounced "she beg, she more," and means "Little Fairy, Big Fairy." The song consists of two variations of the melody, and the first one sounds like the "Little Fairy," while the second one is a bit grander, and sounds like the "Big Fairy."

This song is attributed to the blind Irish harpist and singer Turlough Carolan (1670-1738) as his first composition, but the melody is actually older.

09 November 2017

There is Music Everywhere

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Customer Linda Hears that Music

There is Music Everywhere

Linda called me one afternoon earlier this year to order a kalimba - she wanted the pentatonic kalimba. She wanted this kalimba not just for herself - she really wanted to pass this kalimba on to her son and grandchild when she was gone.

"There is music EVERYWHERE! I see and hear music just everywhere. In the evening, I hear the music on the breeze, and see the music of the stars, and the song of the clouds as they blow in and cover the stars, and blow out again to release the stars.

And I want the kalimba to bring that music to life."

14 November 2017

Avatar: the Last Airbender

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

you Can Play This Music on Two Different Kalimbas

Avatar: the Last Airbender

Many people born in the last couple of decades were first turned on to the sound of the kalimba by the animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The kalimba was regularly featured in the sound track.  The kalimba can really pull on your heartstrings in a sweet, simple way... a perfect accompaniment for animation!

In this post we feature two different Youtube videos by people who acquired their kalimbas in order to learn how to play some of the kalimba music from Avatar: the Last Airbender:  one on the Hugh Tracey D Treble Kalimba, the other on the Goshen 11-note Kalimba.

In addition, we're providing free tablature for these little songs, for a visual map of how to play them.

18 November 2017

Why is Pentatonic Kalimba with Alto such a hot combo??

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

These two kalimbas can sound so good together!

Why is Pentatonic Kalimba with Alto such a hot combo??

The pentatonic kalimba and the Alto kalimba are a great natural pairing. They can create a gorgeous contrast that works when two players can "jam with deliberate abandon" - meaning players who are technically proficient and can also really move, respond, and dance with each other's music. The pentatonic's basic traits contribute to the very attractive alliance it can make with the Alto.

The pentatonic kalimba is a bit of a mystery. It seems so simple - a perfect instrument for a beginner. Everything you play on it sounds great - playing it is a bit like finger painting - you just move your thumbs around and your movements somehow are transformed into beautiful sound. Which is probably why experienced players love jamming with the pentatonic kalimba! It represents freedom, and when you play it, you might very well feel as if you are flying.

24 November 2017

First Lesson on the Celtic D Karimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Two simple chords and a trick for using them together

First Lesson on the Celtic D Karimba

While the Celtic D Karimba is made for, and excels at, all sorts of jigs and reels and waltzes, I'm going to show you in this first lesson what it loves to do the most: a very simple two-chord progression.

You don't even need to know what a chord progression is  - you just follow the colors on the tines.

I suggest you mark the tines of these two chords with two contrasting colors of Sharpie markers. The marks help make playing the chords very simple and can easily be removed with an alcohol wipe. I use green and red in this case.

19 November 2017

Jerrid's Kalimba Path

Written by Jerrid Hittleman, Posted in News and Announcements

A new sound. Inner peace. Mind-blowing and heartwarming responses.

Jerrid's Kalimba Path

My name is Jerrid and I am a multi-instrumentalist living in Los Angeles, California. I bought my first kalimba, a Hugh Tracey Alto in standard G tuning, about 2 years ago from Mark Holdaway at Kalimba Magic, and my music has felt like magic ever since.

I had been searching for a new instrument to add to my collection that would give my performances a unique sound, and that is exactly what I got and more, right out of the box.

I noticed that the craftsmanship was solid as I held the beautifully-grained wood box in my hand for the first time, observing its unique patterns and sturdy build...

18 November 2017

The Hitzaskiar Persian Scale

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This exotic scale sounds "WOW" on the Alto Kalimba

The Hitzaskiar Persian Scale

I remember being 8 years old, getting to stay up late to watch "Lawrence of Arabia" on TV. Even as I drowsed, I found myself listening attentively to its dazzling music.

How grand! The music's sumptuous scales sounded ethnic and different. It was moving and magical. Did the composer actually understand middle-eastern music and scales? Or was he just "making it up"? Probably both.

The cool thing about the kalimba is that you can just "make it up." Here, I have made up the "Hitzaskiar" tuning for the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba. The Hitzaskiar is an actual ancient scale from Persia, but how many times has it been played on the Alto Kalimba? At least once (!)

25 September 2017

The Kalimba Magic App

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The easiest way to see, hear, and appreciate the largest selection of kalimbas and kalimba tunings in the world, this free Android app is available in the Play Store

The Kalimba Magic App

The Kalimba Magic Shop has a lot of kalimbas and a lot of books. It can be a bit overwhelming to navigate and pick a kalimba.

Now, the Kalimba Magic App offers a simple way to browse through most of our kalimbas on your Android phone or tablet. (Apologies to Apple users... in the coming year, an app for Apple devices as well as Android is planned, for learning to play kalimba.) The key aspect of this app is that it provides a very straightforward interface for seeing and hearing what each kalimba and each kalimba tuning sounds like.

25 September 2017

New: The Celtic D Karimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

I love this karimba design for fast Celtic jigs and reels

New: The Celtic D Karimba

Over the years, I've had about a dozen people specifically request a kalimba in the key of D for Celtic music. (To be sure, not all Celtic music is in D, but quite a bit of it is in this key.) In the past, I would end up pointing inquirers to the D Treble kalimba. But this isn't the most desirable solution either.

While the D Treble is a fine kalimba, the tines are close together and if you have large hands, you might not like to play on this one. Additionally, Celtic music tends to be very fast, and if (big fingers or not) you try to play a kalimba with very close tines quickly, you might get frustrated. I am speaking from experience here.

So, here is a new design for this specific purpose.  I enjoy playing Celtic music on this kalimba... you might like it too!

25 September 2017

Kalimbas in our Elders' Hands

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

Have you thought about getting a kalimba for Mom or Dad? Or for yourself?

Kalimbas in our Elders' Hands

We are living longer - and hopefully we are living better too. Better knowledge of health and the human body help us take better care of our bodies and minds, leading to the potential of living well as we age.

But part of aging is dealing with loss. I have known elders who played violin, cello, piano, or guitar in their younger days - all physically demanding instruments. At some point, the demands of these instruments can exceed what a body has to give. When dealing with loss, compensation is key. The kalimba is small and easy to hold, but has a surprisingly large voice - a perfect replacement instrument. Playing kalimba also keeps the brain active, challenging the mind and honing hand-ear-eye coordination.

READ ON to get the testimonials of three older women who have discovered the magic of the kalimba.

25 September 2017

Cornelius Duncan - a kalimba player who has the touch

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

He was taught by Dumisani Maraire

Cornelius Duncan - a kalimba player who has the touch

I met Cornelius Duncan in Longmont, Colorado, at the Jensen Guitar Company and Willow River Music Emporium.  

I was visiting my dad in Longmont, having just left a music therapy conference a few miles away, and I had a load of kalimbas leftover from that event.  I got a call on the phone from Sam at Jensen Guitars.  "Hey, I'm in downtown Longmont Colorado, and I've got a gentleman here, Cornelius Duncan, who would like to see a few of the Hugh Tracey kalimbas with pickups - could you send us some?"  Sam thought I was at Kalimba Magic headquarters in Tucson. In my dad's living room, I looked at the time and realized I had two hours before dinner.  "I can bring a few kalimbas over right now!" 

After I put one of the new Hugh Tracey Alto kalimbas into Cornelius' hands, I stood back, watched, and listened. I have to say, this man has the touch.

03 October 2017

Understanding Chords - on Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

How to play them, what they mean, and what is I, V, and all that

Understanding Chords - on Alto Kalimba

The kalimba, with its unique bi-directional note layout, makes playing scales a bit difficult because you have to zigzag your way up and down the tines, plucking first one on the right side, then one on the left, then the right, and working your way up or down the scale. It is easy zigzagging at the bottom of the scale, where the tines are close together in the center. The higher you go, the higher the chance of misplacing a finger, and zagging where you meant to zig. Fortunately, the painted tines will help guide you (a painted right tine is one note higher than the corresponding painted left tine), but this is still the most common type of error.

The flip side of the difficult scales is the easy chords. What makes it hard to play scales makes it simple to play chords. Chords on kalimba are really easy. Compared with the guitar, every one of whose chords has a different geometrical shape, the kalimba is painless - all the chords have basically the same shape.

Learning to drive the chords on your kalimba can tap into the most wonderful music this little instrument has to offer...

03 October 2017

V → I - The Universal Harmonic Crank

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The essential harmonic progression in western music, going from the "V" chord to the "I" chord, is ubiquitous in African music too!

V → I - The Universal Harmonic Crank

The core principle in western music theory is that when you are on the "V" chord - denoting a chord based in the fifth degree of a scale - (or "V7" chord) it pushes the music to go to the "I" - denoting a chord based in the first degree of the scale. Everything else in music theory is window dressing, giving us interesting ways of taking our time to get to the "V" and then the "I."

If you don't know anything about the "V" chord or the "I" chord, don't worry - we have great recordings that will illuminate. The "I" chord is like home base. The "V" chord is the ultimate journey away from home, but it also leads you back home (except when it doesn't, in a deceptive cadence, but we'll ignore that twist).

This article compares how the "V  I" chord progression works in western music, in two-phrase karimba music, and in four-phrase mbira music. The similarities and the differences are fascinating.

04 October 2017

Behind the Scenes at Kalimba Magic

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Welcome to Kacy Todirita - International Sales - The making of the Kalimba Magic App

Behind the Scenes at Kalimba Magic

I have run Kalimba Magic out of my home since 2005. The business, the packing room, the photo and sound studio, the warehouse, the rehearsal studio - these now amount to 66% of my home.

Fortunately, the goals of my business align pretty well with my own personal goals: to play as much music as I can, and to share the joy of music and specifically the kalimba, with as many people as I can as the main part of my own efforts to make the world a happier, safer and more beautiful place.

So, I invite you into my house to see what is going on. I am now working with a new employee, who is helping me ship these kalimbas around the world. And I invite you to take a look at a kalimba traffic jam in my studio. 

04 October 2017

Free Dancing on Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

...Instead of following my head, I had to learn to follow my heart

Free Dancing on Kalimba

For 6 months, I was the sole worker at Kalimba Magic. I wrote the newsletters, wrote the books, I answered the phone and took the orders, maintained inventory, assembled,  tuned and painted kalimbas, and packed and shipped.

This work was a great time for me. A Zen-like focus on my craft resulted. I surely came out of this period a better human.

When I recently hired Kacy Todirita to help with the kalimba business, there was suddenly enough slack in my schedule that I decided to try and change my life a bit. I would wake at 5 AM, chores till 6, walk with my kalimba till 7, and then every morning, I would record music. I would try this new life on for 100 days.

Well, what do you think happened with this highly structured plan?

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