15 September 2016

Thumbing the Karimba at States of Inflammation

Written by Klara Wojtkowska, Posted in News and Announcements

What's a young professional musician to do when her body fails her?

An introduction from Mark:

High level musicians dedicate their body, their time, their soul, and years to their art. They are driven by the dreams of the greatness they have touched in their musical experiences, and they invest their very lives to this god of music. But what happens when their body fails them? When pain and debility make their work and ambitions look like one of God's great jokes?

Many musical instruments are quite physically demanding: guitar, upright bass, piano, and especially, the violin. But playing the kalimba, in contrast, can be quite gentle on the body, requiring mainly an easy motion of the thumbs.

I invite you to read Klara Wojtkowska's stirring and poetic piece about her journey through the pain of a debilitating autoimmune disease and on to the world of delight and comfort created by the sound and playing of karimba and mbira. It's a beautiful, inspiring trip!

Here is Klara's essay. I hope it moves you as much as it did me.

                                                                                - Mark

15 September 2016

Kalimba and Mindfulness - 1

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Conscious attention can bring many benefits to you and your music

Kalimba and Mindfulness - 1

What is mindfulness?  For me, mindfulness is being as present as I can be to the moment that is unfolding.  

Consider music as a sort of plow that is able to cut a furrow through the present moment.  Good music invites the listener to become entrained in that furrow as the musical plowshare cuts through the unfolding succession of present moments .  Good music, happy, sad, or otherwise, can be a great comfort as it can largely take us from whatever pathway we were wandering down, and instead directs our internal gaze (our attention) to fall upon something wonderful and beautiful.  Mindfulness can help us to be more attentive to the music and to experience it more deeply.

Can the kalimba be a tool for mindfulness?  Of course!

13 September 2016

TIP:Kalimba Lessons on Skype with Mark Holdaway

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

Don't get stuck and let your kalimba gather dust - get some lessons NOW!

TIP:Kalimba Lessons on Skype with Mark Holdaway

I know there are people who purchase kalimbas and just jump right on board and start flying.  And then there are other people who really want to play, but don't quite know what to do with their kalimbas.

If you fall into that second category, you can get tutoring in kalimba ABC's from an excellent, gentle, and compassionate teacher - me!

If you are already familiar with the kalimba and you need some help ramping up to the next level, or if you are working on a particular song and just can't seem to get it, I am sure that I could help you with individualized guidance. 

17 September 2016

Why Kalimba Tablature? Greensleeves!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The tremendous assistance that kalimba tablature can provide in arranging and learning songs...plus a free CD or 25% coupon!

Why Kalimba Tablature?  Greensleeves!

I have a symbiotic relationship with kalimba tablature:  I work really hard to notate really wonderful music in tablature.  Through working on this tablature, I come to be able to play music that is more difficult and more polished than I would otherwise be able to perform.

I make kalimba tablature better, and kalimba tablature makes me better. 

To get your free Greensleeves tablature PDF, which will work for 8-Note, Alto, or Bb Treble kalimbas, click the image above.

07 September 2016

Where did all the kalimbas go?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Surging in popularity now, kalimbas arrived long ago and then all but vanished

Where did all the kalimbas go?

Kalimbas had been common in many, widespread places, having come along with Africans when they were torn from their native lands by slavers. How and why kalimbas disappeared is a sad and complicated tale.

Today, the kalimba is more popular than ever. People all over the world are creating original, unique kalimba designs. People everywhere are doing exactly what the people of Africa always did with the kalimba over the last millennium: adapting it to play their own musics.

The kalimba is ever so much more popular these days for many reasons: playing it is a uniquely peaceful activity. It is small and very portable. It brings joy, mindfulness, wonder, fun, and a sense of stillness to the mind. A good time playing the kalimba with a partner is among the all-time best experiences of my own life. How could this beautiful little instrument have been lost?

06 September 2016

New, Free Variations to Accompany the Karimba Song "Wa Kalulu"

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

You can learn to create your own variations!

New, Free Variations to Accompany the Karimba Song

I have written before about how much fun it is to find variations that work with traditional African kalimba music. This article elaborates on this subject, and how I went about creating my own variations, first by improvisation, and then later in composition inspired by those earlier improvisations.

Even in the case of songs such as "Wa Kalulu" for which only a standard part notation exists, we can create essentially infinite variations to go along with this music. All it takes is two karimba players, one with a good grasp of the song as written (in the book "30 Traditional African Songs for Karimba" for example) and another player who has several attributes: a fertile imagination, the flexibility to change what they are playing when the music they are playing isn't working with the original part, and the sense to stay put for a while when they stumble on something good.

28 August 2016

My Mother's Art

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Your creations can mean a lot more than you think

My Mother's Art

"It looks like something that used to be incredibly beautiful that a huge beast started to claw at," my friend John said when he saw the new piece of art I was hanging on the wall in my college dorm room.  My mother had just mailed me one of her off-loom weavings, and I proudly hung it on the wall. Later, my roommate's cat actually would pull out the lower-hanging clumps of yarn, thereby fulfilling John's prophecy. Over the 35 years that I have had my mother's weaving hanging on various walls, a total of five cats would at times rise to the occasion and pull a piece off.

Here I will recount the story about how I got this woven wall hanging, and how it reflects my mother's inner doubt, as well as my own.  It is a sad story of one person not being able to overcome that doubt, and how I am driven to push on through my own self-doubt.  Maybe there is something here that can help you.

28 August 2016

1000 Kalimbas, Almost Ready To Go

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A huge shipment just arrived from South Africa - here is what happens next

1000 Kalimbas, Almost Ready To Go

Most of the kalimbas I play - and consequently, most of the kalimbas I sell - are Hugh Tracey Kalimbas, made by African Musical Instruments (AMI) in South Africa.

When I started Kalimba Magic in 2005, I ordered about 200 kalimbas, and it took about six weeks from when I placed the order to when they arrived at my door.

Now, I order over 1000 kalimbas at a time, and it takes six to nine months for the kalimbas to get here.  Why so long?  Supply chain issues, more orders from other folks, bigger orders, exchange rate snafus, and a variety of unknowns as well. 

28 August 2016

Back to School with the Catania 6-Note Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A perfect instrument - while they last - for kids between the ages of 5 and 12

Back to School with the Catania 6-Note Kalimba

It is the end of an era - Steve Catania has retired, and the good quality, inexpensive Catania Kalimbas are almost gone.  Most stores that carried them are completely out.  But at Kalimba Magic, because of a very large earlier order, we still have plenty of 6-Note Catania kalimbas in stock.

Why did I order so many 6-Note kalimbas? Here is a tale: The 6-Note came about because I saw a glaring need for a simple, small kalimba, and I suggested that Steve Catania make the 6-Note. Which he did. Perfect for beginners and small children, this beautiful, diminutive instrument has lots of space between tines, so you almost never play the wrong tine by accident.  It has a 1-octave range, but uses the pentatonic (5-note) scale.  It is simple, easy, and it sounds great.

03 August 2016

New Music Tabs for 2B/14 kalimba in "E1 Tuning"

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

Half the 2B/14 kalimbas we shipped last month were in E1 Tuning - Now there is music for the E1 Tuning

Thomas Bothe is famous for his delightful kalimbas as well as for his unique, individual kalimba tunings.  However, there was one day last month when I was fulfilling orders, and I tuned three 2B/14 kalimbas to the E1 tuning - which is perhaps the classic 2B tuning that most represents Thomas Bothe's soul.  Simple, delicate, easy, and beautiful.

Two of the three customers requested the E1 tuning after they had learned about it from the various 2B tunings I have documented online.  The third 2B/14 customer just asked for "a special tuning" - and I thought "I'm gonna make this E1 tuning an extra special tuning by writing some extra special music for it!"

28 July 2016

Hugh Tracey's Field Recordings from Africa are Alive and Well at ILAM

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The man who created the modern kalimba movement also worked to preserve traditional African music

While Hugh Tracey is best known for the Hugh Tracey kalimba, I believe his most important work was the assemblage of 35,000 field recordings he made through the 1930s, '40s, and '50s of traditional music across sub-Saharan Africa.

These recordings captured music across Africa just before much of the traditional music was eclipsed and even erased by modern European influences such as the western scale, choral church music, and western popular music, which were propagated by radio and recordings. 

Today, Tracey's historical recordings are alive and well and accessible. Anyone can listen to them. Their story follows, as well as how they are being brought to life in our time.

21 July 2016

Now The Book: 30 Traditional African Karimba Songs

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This 72-page book contains the music to about 30 traditional karimba tunes

Now The Book: 30 Traditional African Karimba Songs

It is my feeling that "About 30 Traditional Kalimba Songs..." is the most significant kalimba book I have written to date. This book is written from the point of view that the karimba is a living relic; I believe that the kalimbas that were played over a millenium ago had very similar note layouts to the lower half of the two-tiered modern karimba. This means that the music in this collection of wonderful traditional tunes could be very similar to the music that people in Africa played more than 1000 years in the past! When I play these songs, I imagine myself experiencing something of what ancient kalimba players may have thought and felt as they created and played similar music. A unique and magical connection!

Now, don't you want to get some of that?

If you have a karimba already, you need this book. And if you don't have a karimba, you might want to consider getting one - that's how good this book is.

21 July 2016

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, on Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free Tablature for Alto, Treble and G Chromatic Kalimbas

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, on Kalimba

The Hugh Tracey kalimba is the work of a lifetime. From 1920 to 1954, musicologist and historian Hugh Tracey honed his experience, appreciation and understanding of African music and musical instruments. Then, in an endeavor to create a new kalimba and one that would be able to appeal to western ears, he built over 100 prototype instruments of various designs which integrated aspects of several traditional kalimbas, from about 1950 to 1954. When he felt he had perfected his design, the Treble kalimba was born, and it was followed by the deeper-voiced Alto a few years later.

But after Hugh Tracey had developed his masterpiece instrument, he had another challenge:  how could he get people interested? How could he convince them to take his kalimba - and him - seriously? The answer was, in part, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," the beautiful piece by J.S. Bach that everyone knows and loves. I myself have played this enchanting song at weddings, memorial services, and silent Quaker Meeting for Worship.

Now, I give you the key to unlock this song: tablature for "Jesu" for several different kalimbas.

03 August 2016

2B/9 Kalimbas Available in Sansula Tunings

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

Instructional books and downloads are available for: Standard A minor, Heavenly A, Beautiful E, and C Major tunings

While the Thomas Bothe "2B" kalimbas are charming and delightful, they have one major drawback - there is a dearth of instructional materials for them.  This is mainly because each kalimba Thomas makes is an individual, tuned to its own unique tuning, and so it's not really possible to write a book for each one.

I had a great idea about making it possible for people to be taught how to play 2/B kalimbas. The idea came about this way: Over the last 10 years I produced several instructional books/downloads for four different Hokema sansula tunings (a sansula is a special kind of kalimba). While pondering how to make 2/B's teachable, it hit me: why not offer the 2B/9 kalimbas tuned to these four sansula tunings so people could use the sansula books to learn their 2B instruments? So that is what we have done, and below I describe each of the books which can be used with our new "alt" 2B kalimbas.

 

23 June 2016

The Electric Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

It was good enough for Jimi

The Electric Kalimba

Did Jimi Hendrix really play kalimba? 

26 June 2016

The Thomas Bothe "2B" Kalimbas Return

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Get your 2B kalimba while they last

The Thomas Bothe

"I received my 2B/9 Kalimba several days ago and it is truly a magical little instrument... I LOVE it!  I love the A/C tuning too...great choice.  I am drawn to picking it up frequently and picking out random tunes.  I don't really now what I'm doing, but it always sounds great!"

    -  Marcy, 2016

 "The 2B kalimba arrived today.  What a dear instrument!  I just adore it"

     -  Vickie, 2016

 

26 June 2016

Getting a Second Kalimba

Written by Leslee Morrison, Posted in News and Announcements

Leslee Morrison's Second Kalimba Has Opened a New World of Possibilities

Getting a Second Kalimba

Acquiring a second kalimba in a different tuning is almost like stepping into the exciting realm of kalimba for the first time - everything seems so fresh and new.   However, unlike the first time, I come to the second kalimba with an established set of rhythms and thumb patterns I learned on the first kalimba.  These patterns do transfer to the second kalimba, and it feels like I am flying.

 

01 July 2016

Infinite Possibility Within Each Line

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

One single musical idea can be stretched so far...

Infinite Possibility Within Each Line

When I play kalimba by myself, I usually go pretty deep. It's like meditation, only more playful. After playing for 20 or 30 minutes, I am usually in a very peaceful state. I seem to look within while I play, and when I stop playing, I find that I don't quite focus on anything in this physical world. It usually takes me five or ten minutes to re-acclimatize to the world. WARNING: Do not operate heavy machinery while playing kalimba! (So far, there is not a call to raise the legal age for kalimba playing to 21.)

Playing kalimba with someone else can also be a very creative experience, and here I will discuss doing that very thing, using a kalimba song that is historically important to explain and illustrate. 

16 June 2016

Kalimbas for Accessibility

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Scales and Chords for One-Sided 8-Note Kalimbas

Kalimbas for Accessibility

I have known several people who only have the use of one hand, and two of them play kalimba. Kalimba Magic offers a special one-sided kalimba, either in a left handed or a right handed setup.

It seems you would need both the left and right hands to simulate the full kalimba experience. The theory is that the kalimba evolved from huge log xylophones, made from actual logs, which were played by at least two people, one on each side, playing interweaving parts. The kalimba plays those same two parts, but the two players who used to play on opposite sides of the xylophone, are both now sitting inside the player's head.

Yes, left and right hands playing interlocking parts is fundamental to the traditional, two-sided kalimba, but it is most definitely possible to play one handed kalimba and sound good. When you play the one-sided kalimba, you are playing something set up very differently from the two-sided type. The notes are laid out in a linear setup and are played using different rules.

 

26 May 2016

Words About Maurice White's Kalimba Playing

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

And how you can get a kalimba like Maurice White's

Words About Maurice White's Kalimba Playing

A lot of people who play kalimba were first exposed to the instrument when Maurice White of the band Earth, Wind and Fire pierced their hearts with its sound so many years ago, first beginning in the 1970s .

While I did always like hearing Earth, Wind and Fire on the radio, I never even knew Maurice White played kalimba until after I started Kalimba Magic and people started pointing out the sorts of things I would need to know to stay in business.

Now I'm making up for lost time.

31 May 2016

How Maurice White's Kalimba Playing Touched My Life

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Joe Hernandez is learning to play all of Maurice's kalimba parts

How Maurice White's Kalimba Playing Touched My Life

There are probably tens of thousands of kalimba players around the world who first learned about the kalimba from Maurice White. One of them is Joe Hernandez:

"I saw Maurice White play in 1988 in Kansas City, the first time I had ever actually seen a kalimba. I was amazed and wish I had attempted to find one and start playing back then. Thanks to Kalimba Magic, I finally got my own kalimba and I love it. Too bad it took me over 30 years to discover where to get one."

But wait till you see what Joe is doing with his kalimbas.

24 May 2016

What's New at Kalimba Magic and the Kalimba World?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Think globally and skype with us - act locally and learn with us

What's New at Kalimba Magic and the Kalimba World?

I've been playing with statistics lately, and I've learned some interesting things. Kalimba Magic has a huge international foot print.  Last month, about 50% of our sales went overseas.  We shipped to Japan, China, Australia, Europe, South America, and even to that friendly country to the north - Canada.  But we have been almost invisible in my own hometown of Tucson; and less than one half of one percent of all my kalimba sales are to people here in Arizona.

I am working to change that.  I am reaching out to my neighbors, friends, and community here in Tucson, as well as farther out across the world.  I am doing what I can to spread the word about the kalimba, not just over the internet, but from one heart to another.  I invite you to read about how I am reaching out to both the local and the international kalimba communities.

23 May 2016

New Tunings for the Lotus Karimba - One You Can Do Yourself!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The C Major Lotus Tuning is one you can do. The Em/Am Lotus Tuning is one for us to do.

New Tunings for the Lotus Karimba - One You Can Do Yourself!

Yesterday, two sansula players came to Kalimba Magic headquarters with their sansulas, both of which were in standard A minor tuning. They had grown tired of the enchantingly beautiful standard A minor tuning and wanted to play different music. After trying several tunings, they both decided to go for the Heavenly A tuning. They left happy, and the new tuning has opened many new pathways for them to explore.

Why am I telling you this in an article about Lotus Karimba tunings? Because the standard Lotus tuning (which is equally good for playing in G minor or C minor) itself can become boring if you are trapped in the same old patterns, and a new Lotus tuning may be exactly what you need to break out of the doldrums.

23 May 2016

Titos Sompa and Mark Holdaway: Merging Sound and Story in an Evening of Kalimba

Written by Michelle Hollett, Posted in News and Announcements

Review of a house concert in Tucson, May 2016

Titos Sompa and Mark Holdaway: Merging Sound and Story in an Evening of Kalimba

On the cusp of the new moon, on the evening of May 4th, a group of individuals gathered in the living room of Tabitha Danloe, before performers Mark Holdaway and Titos Sompa, and around the kalimba—the force of the evening. Titos Sompa is a Congolese Master in dance, drum, kalimba, and more. Mark Holdaway is the founder of Kalimba Magic.

My own experience with the kalimba is brand new—just a brush stroke in the air. I am no expert in its anthropological beginnings: the places, the cultures; the spiritual roots and experiences; the sounds the kalimba can make and how they happen. But Titos Sompa and Mark Holdaway are experts—and each in their own way. In this intimate concert setting, each of the men pulled the audience into their individual, and shared, passion for the kalimba. And it was plain to see: it’s a passion that is rooted deep in their hearts, and deep in their stories.   A profundity of story was what I experienced that night, and was what I took home with me. The kalimba inspires story. The kalimba is story.

<<  6 7 8 9 10 [1112 13  >>