News and Announcements

06 December 2017

Holiday Savings at Kalimba Magic

Posted in News and Announcements

Holiday Savings at Kalimba Magic
...and more!

06 December 2017

Welcome to Kalimba Magic

Posted in News and Announcements

Quality, Selection Support and Service

Welcome to Kalimba Magic

 2017 HOLIDAY SAVINGS

Recieve 25% off popular Hugh Tracy Acoustic Altos,Trebles and Pentatonic Box Mounted kalimbas. Save a whopping 30% on songbooks; including music and instructional downloadsFind over 100 unique thumbpiano instruments in our on-line catalogue. Don't forget to listen to all of them with our KALIMBA MAGIC APP.  Find Links to all this and more below our Christmas Video.

07 December 2017

Christmas Kalimba Videos

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Christmas Carols are so so beautiful on kalimba

Playing Christmas Carols on the kalimba was my big breakthrough back in 2002. People in my home town were not taking the kalimba very seriously as an instrument. I had been casually working on Christmas carols for about three years, and I decided that I really needed to step up my game.

I put together a medley of 12 Christmas songs in 12 minutes, telling the emotional story of Christmas: searching for God in the darkness, the birth of Jesus, and the joy of all creation. And back in 2002, I worked the medley for an hour a day for two months, and my performance in Tucson was a knockout!

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!

21 November 2017

What's New at Kalimba Magic?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Save 25%, New Products, New Tunings, and New Services

What's New at Kalimba Magic?
  • We have a 25% discount coupon code for some of our most popular non-electrified kalimbas.
  • We have a new middle eastern tuning for the Alto kalimba and some great new paired tunings for playing Pentatonic and Alto kalimbas together.
  • We have new kalimba accessories.
  • And for the holiday season, we're offering gift wrapping service with kalimba purchases. 

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?

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...

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