13 July 2018

New Exotic B11 Tuning: The Wizard

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This is one magical tuning

New Exotic B11 Tuning: The Wizard

The Hokema B11 Kalimba - also called the "Melody Kalimba" - has a lot of untapped potential. In its standard G major tuning, it does a lot of nice music. But so many other exotic tunings are also possible, and the exotic tunings have not really been explored at all - until now. Today we are looking at the exotic B11 tuning that I call "The Wizard." 

An exotic tuning can take a kalimba to a new and magical place, transforming the music it plays and the experience you have with it.

At Kalimba Magic laboratories, we took all the B11 tunings we could think of and played them all - and then selected the five best tunings. For the next five months, we will present a new exotic B11 tuning, including a recording or video and a short instructional download for each one.

18 July 2018

66 Songs for the 17-Note Kalimba in C

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This is our standard 66 Songs download that has been reworked for the new 17-Note C Kalimba

66 Songs for the 17-Note Kalimba in C

The 66 songs in the download were taken from various Kalimba Magic collections and modified for use with the 17-Note "Treble" Kalimba in the key of C, which is sold under a great many brand names at this time - Donner and Gecko, among others.  The collections that went into this download include: African American Spirituals, traditional African karimba tunes, Christmas carols, classical pieces, folk and pop music, Americana and patriotic, and some children's songs.

These songs are rated by difficulty, with songs in each category between 1 and 5.

06 June 2018

New Instructional Resources You Can Use to Learn to Play the 17-Note Kalimba in C

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Hint: The 10-Note eBooks will work with the 17-Note!

New Instructional Resources You Can Use to Learn to Play the 17-Note Kalimba in C

Is this happening to you? You have one of those new Chinese-made 17-Note kalimbas in the key of C, but you cannot figure out what instructional material to use for it.

You have considered all the possibilities... your new kalimba in C was copied from the Hugh Tracey Treble, so you looked at the books for that, but the Treble kalimba is usually in the key of G and has the 3rd of the scale, B, as the low note. So they don’t work for the 17-Note kalimba in C. You could use Alto kalimba books, but they are in the wrong key too. Yes, you could retune your new kalimba, but that can be a big hassle.

Now, we have the answer to this painful dilemma. We have a new selection of solutions to offer for both beginners and more advanced players. If you are a beginner, we have three downloads that will work for the lowest 10 notes of your kalimba. And if you have some experience playing, we have recast the 66 Song Download into the key of C. Here are the details:

06 June 2018

My Experience Learning to Play on the 10-Note Heart Kalimba

Written by Sara Edelman, Posted in News and Announcements

True confessions of an old musical dog learning new tricks

My Experience Learning to Play on the 10-Note Heart Kalimba

All my life I've been a musician. My family sang together, I played and loved piano (even piano lessons), sang in all kinds of groups growing up, and played recorder, pennywhistle, and a bit of guitar. I mostly sing and play pennywhistle these days. Classical and folk, and world music were and are my stomping grounds.

Reading music was always the key to the door into the musical world. Never a brilliant music reader, I made my way through it and very happily discovered new melodies. In my adult life reading music has not been a focus for me, rather I mostly play and sing by ear with others.

08 June 2018

The Kalimba, its African History, and Black Pride - your "rough" guide

Written by Sara Edelman, Posted in News and Announcements

this exciting presentation takes you on a quick trip through the kalimba's history from its beginnings to present day

The Kalimba, its African History, and Black Pride - your

“The Kalimba, its African History, and Black Pride” is a quick, enjoyable vignette, almost a snapshot, of all the moving parts of the the kalimba’s story. It will engage you and take you on a lively romp that covers ancient and contemporary music, science, and the annals of human history. It is so much fun that you will hardly know how much you’ve just absorbed.

12 July 2018

New Employee at Kalimba Magic

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Mike Ankomeus builds, repairs, tunes, and packs kalimbas

New Employee at Kalimba Magic

I created Kalimba Magic with my hands, my heart, my brain, and my home, and I continue creating and maintaining it too.

But I am happy to say that I have outstanding help, and I'd like to introduce Mike Ankomeus to you.

Mike is a multi-talented musician and all-around interesting guy. In the early 1980s he played in the Air Force Band of the Midwest, a professional touring jazz and rock band. He then got a BA and MA in Music Education from Arizona State University and taught music for several years at John Phillip Sousa Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona.

But aren't you itching to know what makes Mike such a great addition to Kalimba Magic?

21 July 2018

Mark Holdaway, Special Guest on the 'Car Sessions with Karl' series

Written by Sara Edelman, Posted in News and Announcements

Great jamming and a whirlwind tour of Kalimba Magic headquarters

Mark Holdaway, Special Guest on the 'Car Sessions with Karl' series

Karl Von Packal is the host of Car Sessions with Karl, a Youtube phenomenon. Mark is invited by Karl to participate in some jamming in Karl’s vehicle, where Karl has done the same with a variety of other interesting musical monsters, including Mike Ankomeus, Mark’s band mate and employee. Mark also takes us on a quick tour of Kalimba Magic’s humble headquarters, and talks a bit about the kalimba’s story and culture (see the Black History month presentation in this newsletter for much more on this). We are treated with clips of the two musicians improvising some great music while sitting in Karl’s vehicle, covered by several video cameras.

06 June 2018

New In Stock - The 10-Note Heart Kalimba - a great kalimba to start on

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Very economical, high quality, Great for Students, plays great music

New In Stock - The 10-Note Heart Kalimba - a great kalimba to start on

Kalimba Magic is known for selling some of the best kalimbas in the world, but we have been a bit sparse in the student kalimba department. That all changes right now.

We have long known that sooner or later, the Chinese would start manufacturing kalimbas, and, eventually, good ones. That day has arrived, and rather than stick its head in the sand, Kalimba Magic is embracing these new Chinese-made kalimbas - in part because they perfectly fill our gap of entry-level instruments in the Kalimba Magic catalog, and in part because these are really nice kalimbas that I think anyone would be happy to own - a child, a beginning adult, or an experienced player.

 I invite you to check out the 10-Note Heart Kalimba. 

06 June 2018

Learn to Play the 10-Note Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Three high quality instructional downloads will supercharge your kalimba journey

Learn to Play the 10-Note Kalimba

Kalimba Magic has always been the leader in kalimba instructional materials. We take that work to a whole new level with three new instructional PDF files for the  10-Note Heart Kalimba in C. These downloads are formatted for your iPad or tablet, but you can even use them on your smartphone. Each page gives you a bite-sized bit of music - typically four measures long. As this music is all cyclical, you repeat those four measures about a dozen times, becoming more sturdy as you go. If you want to hear what each song or pattern sounds like when played by yours truly, just touch the tablature - an MP3 will be downloaded, and you can play along with me!

11 June 2018

An Interesting Kalimba Purchase Strategy

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Buy the Download First

An Interesting Kalimba Purchase Strategy

I have a few customers who purchase mainly downloads from Kalimba Magic. One wants to get the music because he is interested in using it in his video work. Another just likes to hear what new music is available for the kalimba. But there is a growing group of people who see the downloads as a collection of music that is representative of what a particular kalimba style or tuning has to offer. 

As such, the download is a key that opens some of the secrets that the kalimba has to offer.

23 May 2018

Over the Rainbow

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free Tablature for Alto, Treble, and Chromatic Kalimbas - and learn about the Secondary Dominant

Over the Rainbow

I never really understood the big deal about "The Wizard of Oz" when I was growing up. We had a black and white TV, and I remember in high school, a friend asked me "Hey, you know how when Dorothy lands in Oz, everything is suddenly in color?" I answered "No..." and suddenly realized part of why I had never gotten the movie! The music from this movie did not become a favorite part of my life as it did for so many.

But when you are a performing musician, it is not always about what pleases you most. In music, you also are playing for the audience. And I can tell you, no song succeeds in touching listeners' hearts quite like "Over the Rainbow" played on a tiny little music box (the kalimba).

11 June 2018

Three Against Two for Structure - 1

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The Fabric of a simple "Three against Two" pattern is strong enough to be the foundation of a song

Three Against Two for Structure - 1

What does "John Huffington" have to do with the classic African three-against-two multi-rhythm?

I don't know a John Huffington, but here's his name, embodied in this rhythmic riff when I play it on the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba.

When I fall into the groove of this pattern, I hear my kalimba saying  the name "John Huffington."

The three against two pattern requires that one thumb play one thing (three notes) in the same space as the other thumb is playing something else (two notes). And repeat.

You can play this sort of riff on any kalimba. This post gives you a prescription for how to accomplish the feat.

 

29 April 2018

The Hokema Kalimbas have Gone Electric!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Pickups are now available on nearly all Hokemas

The Hokema Kalimbas have Gone Electric!

The kalimba has always been a cool instrument. Different. Ethnic. New Age. Ancient. And just plain fun.

But throw in an electronic pickup, and you can take the kalimba to a whole new level of FUN.

It is a cliche, but the Germans do build things very well - smooth, precise, shiny... and now great sounding pickups for Hokema's beautiful kalimbas.

Thank you, Peter Hokema!

29 November 2016

Cool Ethnic Tunings for the B11 Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

From Persian to celestial, each of these alternative tunings offers a totally different spin on this great kalimba

Cool Ethnic Tunings for the B11 Kalimba

The reports on the new Hokema B11 Kalimba are all coming in glowing - people love this kalimba.  Of course, everyone loves the sterling workmanship, ease of playing, and incredible sound of the huge Hokema hit, the Sansula, but the musical possibilities and adaptability of Hokema's latest, the B11, really exceed that of the Sansula by leaps and bounds, and the B11 carries the same quality and has a gorgeous sound too.

I have just developed five cool new tunings for the B11, and would love to share them with you!  In addition to this post's tuning charts for all the tunings, you can also listen to demo recordings of each so you can hear how each individual tuning sounds, and easily compare them.

29 November 2016

A Download and Book for the Hokema B11 Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

There is a lot of cool music you can do on this one - we start from the beginning

A Download and Book for the Hokema B11 Kalimba

Peter Hokema has done it again!  He has created a charming little kalimba that seems to just captivate everyone who hears it, the B11 "Melody" kalimba. 

And Mark Holdaway has done it again, creating an instructional download/book filled with great music, illustrating many of the wild and wonderful things you can do on the B11 kalimba.

Read on to learn more about the unusual B11 "Melody" kalimba, and to see what kinds of things are in "Exploring the Hokema B11 Kalimba," available as a hard-copy book or download. You can also hear one of the more advanced songs you can play from the B11 collection.

12 May 2018

Karimba Buzzers - adding or removing

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This is so easy - it takes about 30 seconds

 Karimba Buzzers - adding or removing

While the sound of buzzers (or rattles) on a karimba is very distinctive, it is not for everyone. Also, the term "buzzers" (which create an intentional sound effect)  is very different from what we call the "buzz," which is an unwanted and unpleasant sound that results from an improperly seated tine. We deal with fixing the "buzz" in another article.

This article explores the role of karimba rattles in African music, looks at some of the different ways of making the rattles, and shows you how to take the them off - or put them back on - the Hugh Tracey karimba. I also mention one of my favorite ways to soften the sound of the Hugh Tracey rattles, which, at least to my ear, makes a very pleasing sound.

18 May 2018

Free Blank Tablature for Ten Different Kalimbas

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Click, Save, Print, and Fill in Your Own Notes

Free Blank Tablature for Ten Different Kalimbas

You may or may not know that I invented kalimba tablature in 2004. My first kalimba student would take in my personal instruction well, but then when he went home, he would forget what I had taught him and would not be able to practice it. When I put marks indicating notes on a paper representation of his 15-Note Alto kalimba, he did not need to remember, and could pick up his kalimba each day and practice. 

What marks did I use? The standard symbols for notes used in western staff notation work for me. You can use whatever you want.

It turns out that the tablature concept is quite extensible, and can cover a wide variety of kalimbas. I offer you blank sheets of this tablature for several types of kalimba, all for free. Enjoy!

29 April 2018

Does the low note on your Deluxe Sansula Wobble? Here is the fix

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This simple trick will get your deluxe (goatskin) sansula sounding great again

Does the low note on your Deluxe Sansula Wobble? Here is the fix

Along with the Sansula's beautiful sound and mind-blowing special effects - that is, the deep wah-wah tonal modulation you can get by lifting and lowering the resonant frame onto a flat surface - there are some drawbacks among the different types of Sansula. They can be a bit finicky but are definitely worth having and playing. Knowing how to keep them at their best is easy.

The Standard Sansula (which Kalimba Magic no longer carries) sounds good but has the considerable flaw that, when the instrument is dropped from a height of 1 meter or more, its paper-thin membrane will break.

The Sansula Renaissance, with its synthetic Remo drum head membrane, is robust with respect to droppage, but if you mistreat the drum head by stretching the membrane too much, it can get a bit stretchy and soft. It still plays and "wahs," but just seems a bit tired after a few years.

And the Deluxe Sansula, with a goatskin membrane, can (in a very dry climate) get dried out to the point that the low note sounds as both A and A sharp, beating together in a markedly unpleasant manner.

But the FIX is in!

29 April 2018

Did you buy an inexpensive Chinese-made 17-note kalimba in C? At a loss about finding a book to help you learn?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

OK - I can help you

Did you buy an inexpensive Chinese-made 17-note kalimba in C? At a loss about finding a book to help you learn?

Long before Kalimba Magic started writing books for the Hugh Tracey kalimba and touting the advantages of Hugh Tracey kalimbas, there was trouble afoot. A Pakistani company had started to make poor quality copies of the 17-note Hugh Tracey kalimbas. They cost about 30% of what the Hugh Tracey kalimbas sold for, but the company advertised that "tuning doesn't matter” – their instruments basically came untuned. So I really didn't have to worry all that much about the competition. Yes, people would still buy these cheap kalimbas, and they got more or less what they paid for.

Lately, however, a new 17-note Treble copy has sprung up from China. These instruments are a bit different, in large measure because they are well-tuned. Did you acquire a 17-note kalimba made in China, but cannot find any kind of instructional materials? Well, there is a ton of help for you, you just need to be aware of a difference in tuning that we will guide you into handling with ease.

26 April 2016

A Fantastic Instructional Download for the Sansula

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The C Major Sansula Tuning has always been beautiful - and now it is accessible!

A Fantastic Instructional Download for the Sansula

Kalimba Magic sansulas are normally sold in the A Minor tuning, which produces music of an enchanting, mystical and melancholy nature. I created the C Major sansula tuning in 2011 in response to a customer’s request for a sansula in C.  I love this tuning; it is simply happy and positive, potentially majestic and even euphoric. I am often struck by how easy it is for the C Major sansula to produce music of great simplicity and beauty. If something gorgeous happens in the midst of my time spent with it, I take careful notes (whenever i come up for air!).

The C Major sansula book, a downloadable PDF, covers some of what this delightful instrument can do. With 48 pages and 32 original compositions and exercises written just for this tuning, this book gives you enough material to occupy you for many months as you improve your sansula skills. Included among these compositions are the two YouTube videos I have made with the C Major tuned sansula and the C Major tuned kalimbula.

 

27 April 2016

Tip Series: Exploring Sansula Tunings

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

What is a tuning? Why do you retune? How do you retune?

Tip Series: Exploring Sansula Tunings

The sansula is a great instrument for so many reasons: its lush tone, beautiful craftsmanship, the smooth metal tine tips, the amazing wah-like effects it produces totally acoustically, its simple 9-note layout with staggered tines, and its intuitive tuning that literally transforms nearly-random thumb twiddling into actual music.

However, the same tuning that is geared toward instant success turns out to be very limiting. I realized this early on, but I so loved the tone and feel of the sansula; I wanted to do more with it. So I started to invent sansula tunings, each prescribing its own universe of sound and musical possibilities.

The series of tips that this blog post introduces is my guide to you on the subject of sansula tunings - what tunings we offer, what they sound like, and what instructional resources are available for each. May this guide serve you well!

08 December 2015

A geometrical approach to Sansula Note Layouts

Posted in News and Announcements

Sansulas come in many different tunings, which can be somewhat confusing - but here is a way I found to understand the basic shape of all of those tunings

A geometrical approach to  Sansula Note Layouts

The Hokema Sansula and the Hands on Drums Kalimbula come in the standard A minor tuning or in any of the alternative tunings. We present a few purely geometrical ways of thinking about the Sansula tunings. We also introduce a new alternative Sansula tuning based on my favorite Thomas Bothe tuning.

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!

28 April 2018

Three Is a Magic Number, "Schoolhouse Rock!" was a magic series

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The Very First Episode of "Schoolhouse Rock!" in 1973 Had an Alto Kalimba in it!

Three Is a Magic Number,

Listening to NPR this week, I learned of the passing of Bob Dorough, the dude who wrote all of the songs in the TV segment Schoolhouse Rock! 

OK, dear ones, if you are younger than, oh, 35, you might not have any clue about Schoolhouse Rock! If you are my age, you might thank Schoolhouse Rock! for your ability to count by fives, or to multiply by 11. Or for your eternal knowledge of how conjunctions function in the English language.

I was born in 1962, and Schoolhouse Rock! was on TV from 1973 to 1985. I am sure I saw every last episode of the series, each dozens of times. If you wanted to watch cartoons on Saturday morning, you had no choice but to see them.  And they were pretty amusing to watch, as the animation matched the cleverness of the songs.

[12 3 4 5  >>