Blog

Blog
Mark Holdaway

What is a “Celeste” Kalimba?

The “celeste” models are Hugh Tracey kalimbas mounted on a thin, tapered wooden block, instead of the resonant boxes that the standard Hugh Tracey kalimba models are mounted on. There are box-mounted traditional kalimbas. The one that I saw was a solid piece of wood that had been hollowed out from the end. But most traditional African kalimbas are a bunch of tines mounted on a solid piece of wood. So the celeste models are structurally more similar to traditional kalimbas than the common box kalimbas are. Essentially every Hugh Tracey kalimba comes in a box-mounted version and a celeste version. All celeste Hugh Tracey kalimbas have the same body

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

New Download and Book: “Blank Tablature and Tunings for Popular Kalimbas”

  This 8.5″ x 11″ book of blank tablature contains blank tablature and blank chord charts for six different types of kalimba, in two different painting schemes.  This is a great way for you to write down your kalimba musical ideas or compositions. Here is the table of contents for the book. The first 15 pages deal with showing you about the finer points of Kalimba Tablature and the two painting systems. The rest of the book is tablature and chord blanks for the various kalimba types… along with some very special allternative tuning suggestions for most of these kalimba types. This book is available as a hard copy from

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

New Instructional Download: “Visiting Africa on your 8-Note Kalimba”

This is a nice little introduction to the 8-Note Kalimba in a western, diatonic C tuning. This is not a traditional African tuning, but it is probably the most popular way to set up the 8-Note kalimba these days. And it turns out there is a lot of African music that you can play on this kalimba, even if it not a traditional setup. This short 12-page PDF booklet is a pretty descent intro to how to make music on this instrument, the history of the kalimba – and how to play some very nice African music on it. Live links to sound recordings accompany the tablature in this book.

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

Hard Copy of “Easter Hymns for 17-Note Kalimba in C”

The Easter Hymns for 17-Note Kalimba in C have been available as a digital download since 2019. Now, this collection of 12 hymns is available as a hard copy book… from Amazon! You can purchase the Easter Hymns book from Amazon for $12. If you are outside the USA, this may be the best way to get the book. Similarly, you can purchase the Easter Hymns from Kalimba Magic for $12. This book has Beginner (melody only) and Advanced (melody and chords or counterpoint) versions of 12 beloved Easter Hymns. The kalimba is a great instrument for devotional music, and it was a joy putting this collection together.   Easter Hymns

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

Secrets of Walking and Running While Playing Kalimba

Grow your health, coordination and chops using this great musical hack 6/8 Time is Great for Kalimba Music… and Great for Walking / Running Too! 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

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

Stuck on How a Song in an eBook Should Sound? Listen to it!

All songs in our downloads and books come with sound files, and here’s exactly how to access them This is the “sound icon” from our ebooks. When you click on the sound icon in an ebook, you will hear a recording of that song.   This morning, as I was playing kalimba and walking along the Tanque Verde wash, I answered a call from a customer who had bought the “44 Beginner Songs” ebook for the 17-Note Kalimba in C. She was so excited about progressing with the kalimba, her first musical success ever! She could read the tablature… but she said she didn’t play any of the songs that

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

The Kalimba – An Instrument of African Pride

The Kalimba is a great tool for the world to address racism. The Kalimba has a rich, colorful 3000 year history in Africa, leading to diverse and lovely instruments and music. The Kalimba, its African History, and Black Pride – Your “Rough” Guide My point: anyone who falls in love with the kalimba – anyone who sees the brilliance, beauty, intelligence, and humanity of the kalimba – will inevitably confer this respectful admiration to the African people who created these instruments. People can only justify slavery if they do not see the culture and humanity of the enslaved. Or consider the positive inverse of that statement: Once you see the

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

Is it Kalimba, Karimba, or Mbira?

What name should I use for my thumb piano? The Karimba/Mbira Family Tree When discussing thumb pianos, people use the instrument names kalimba, karimba, mbira, mbira dzavadzimu, and mbira nyunga nyunga – sometimes with specific intent, and sometimes nearly interchangeably.  Where are these different names from, and what do they mean? In this “family tree” photo, we have the Student Karimba in the center; two African karimbas (also called mbira nyunga nyunga) on the outside bottom row; and at the top, two mbira dzavadzimu. So where does “kalimba” fit in? Lamella means plate, or tongue. “Lamellaphone” (also spelled “lamellophone”) is an ethnomusicological term describing any instrument that makes its sound

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

African Karimba Songs on the 17-Note Kalimba in C

The PDF eBook “33  Intermediate Songs for 17-Note Kalimba in C” has a bunch of African music. Now also available as a hard copy book. Here is a video of one of the songs, Bustu MTandari: These are mostly songs from the tradition of the Karimba, or mbira nyunga nyunga. The notes of the Karimba are a subset of the notes on the 17-Note Kalimba, so anything you can play on the Karimba can also be played on the 17-Note in C. And by the way, “kalimba” and “karimba” are two different instruments. Read here if you don’t know this: Is it Kalimba, Karimba, or Mbira? It turns out the

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