News and Announcements

19 February 2020

EZ Numbers-Based eBook for Almost Any Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

If you have been frustrated with learning kalimba, try starting here

EZ Numbers-Based eBook for Almost Any Kalimba

Kalimba tablature, invented by yours truly in 2004, reflects my internal conceptualization of the kalimba and how it is played. My gift to the kalimba world, this tablature can be used to learn how to play, to transmit any sort of music to others, as well as an easy and elegant aid in composing new music.

But not everyone likes my vertical tablature.

If you're new to kalimba tablature and find it overwhelming, you might want to first try the numbers-based approach to learning how to play. A simple, "play by the numbers" method, it references the degrees of the scale and is a valid approach to understanding music.

This is a perfect place for children to start playing kalimba - or for anyone without musical experience who want to start very simply.

17 February 2020

Why is the Kalimba Such a great instrument to play?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

There are so many reasons to love it!

Why is the Kalimba Such a great instrument to play?

I have been playing music since I was 8 years old – for almost 50 years. I did not discover the kalimba until I was 24 – about 34 years ago. I have played many different instruments, and though I love many of them, the kalimba is my favorite. It is the instrument that I have become most recognized for, and it is also the instrument that I make my living through.

What are my reasons for loving playing the kalimba so much?

The first reason why I love playing kalimba: It helps you see and understand music in a completely different way from any other instrument. The unique note layout of the kalimba requires that you understand it physically more than mentally. You learn what sort of thumb dancing you need to do to accomplish a certain song. In a totally unique way, playing kalimba really puts your consciousness into your body.

 

16 February 2020

Is The Hugh Tracey Kalimba Worth The Price?

Posted in News and Announcements

"yes!" is the verdict of Kalimbacam's glowing YouTube review of the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba

Is The Hugh Tracey Kalimba Worth The Price?

For the last two years, people have been asking me in emails: "So, is the Hugh Tracey kalimba really worth it? I can get a 17-note kalimba made in China for much less."

Of my own personal kalimbas, 8 out of the 10 that I commonly use for performances are Hugh Tracey instruments. Obviously, it's clear to me that if you are at the performance level, the Hugh Tracey kalimba is worth it.

But I have to admit that I was quite pleased to hear KalimbaCam come out with a solid "Yes!" to the Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba in his review on YouTube.

16 February 2020

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

Posted in News and Announcements

All songs in our downloads and books come with sound files, and here's exactly how to access them

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

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 she wasn't already very familiar with.

I quizzed her: "You do know that the ebook comes with sound files for each song, right?"

She did know that they were available, but didn't know how to access them. And I realized that if she didn't know how to get the sound files, there are very likely other people who need help. That help is here!

 

15 February 2020

Free Tablature for "Music Box Dancer"

Posted in News and Announcements

This is such an obvious song to perform on the kalimba!

Free Tablature for

A large part of what makes the kalimba such a magical instrument is the nostalgia it creates when you play it. Not always, but often the kalimba will sound like a tiny little music box. You can play that up, by learning some of the famous songs from music boxes: "A Time For Us," "Over the Rainbow," or "Fur Elise."

And an obvious song to add to that list would be Frank Mills' "Music Box Dancer" - which in my mind was a song that was created to play upon that same nostalgia.

18 December 2019

Free Tablature for "Silverbells"

Posted in News and Announcements

This song is perfect for the Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba

Free Tablature for

The holiday classic "Silverbells" turns out to be the perfect song to showcase the Hugh Tracey Treble kalimba.

Why, you might ask? Because the song "Silverbells" dips down to the 3rd of the scale, but no lower. In the opening line, "City sidewalks," the word "walks" goes down to the 3rd. Also, the refrain "Silverbells" starts on the 3rd and goes up.

It seems that "Silverbells" was made just for this kalimba! But even if you have a different kalimba, you will still be able to use this tablature.

20 December 2019

B11 Kalimba Video

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Multi-mode music from my book "Exploring the Hokema B11 Kalimba"

B11 Kalimba Video

When you start playing your kalimba, on which note do you start? Most people think the low(est) note is where they should start - and they tend to play their kalimba in that key. However, you can play your kalimba emphasizing other notes, and not only do you play in a different "key" in each case, but you will also play with a different scale or mode... and each scale gives your kalimba playing a different flavor.

If you have a B11 kalimba, watch this video of B11 multi-mode music. you can learn these "tricks" and understand how to play this way yourself.

And even if you don't have the B11 kalimba, this lesson can be applied to other kalimbas! Check it out!

12 January 2019

Why Kalimba Tablature?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

And what about staff notation for a kalimba?

Why Kalimba Tablature?

Recently, Lilly wrote to Kalimba Magic:

"I am experienced with reading standard staff musical notation, and I don't really like the kalimba tablature, and I don't understand why you use it. Can I just read staff notation with my kalimba? Please give me the main advantage to using tablature to notate kalimba music."

Yes, Lilly, I think there are some really big advantages to using kalimba tablature rather than staff notation. Consider kalimba tablature to be my chosen way of expressing my 33 years of kalimba-playing experience to you. It is a doorway to my kalimba-playing thought process.

05 February 2019

Why Get an African-Tuned Karimba?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Its amazing music puts you in the headspace of Ancient Africa

Why Get an African-Tuned Karimba?

One of the most important things I can say about the kalimba (including the karimba and mbira) is that the understanding of how to play these instruments comes to dwell in my thumbs, while the interpretation of the music into phrases or pulses takes place in my ear or my head.

The brain's frontal cortex is where we slowly puzzle out the music when we're first starting to learn it.  But once we get rolling, it is a different, more primitive part of the brain that is making the music happen - I am guessing it is the cerebellum, which deals with motor control and procedural learning - and that would include learning and playing karimba music. And that is why we can think and talk about something entirely different while we tie our shoes or brush our teeth.

When I play karimba, it feels as if my body is in tune with the ancient Africans when they played similar music, and that my thumbs come to know the way, all on their own.

08 February 2019

Resources For the 17-Note Kalimba in C

Posted in News and Announcements

Everything we have that will work for your 17-Note Kalimba in C

Resources For the 17-Note Kalimba in C

I have recently written some great eBooks for this kalimba. These books use kalimba tablature, which is easy to read and very expressive. In addition to tablature and recordings for each song, these eBooks offer insights into how to read the tablature, how to tune, the kalimba's history, how to accomplish the various moves you need to make on your kalimba, and more. Everything you need to have a wonderful kalimba ride!

Says one recent customer, after she purchased our instructional downloads:

"Mark, I am already practicing the songs and love it. I’ve never played anything in my life and now at almost 70, I am living a dream! Thanks to you."

23 June 2019

Beautiful Quilted Kalimba Bags from Africa

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

These are made by Louise Sloman-Fuller, now retired from AMI (African Musical Instruments) in South Africa

Beautiful Quilted Kalimba Bags from Africa

There are now several options out there for kalimba bags and kalimba cases. If you are looking for something really special, check out these quilted bags from Louise Fuller-Sloman. They are charming. I own two of them myself, and I am guessing there are a few of them that you would love too.

 

26 November 2019

Why Get an Alto Kalimba?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Let Me Count the Reasons

Why Get an Alto Kalimba?

I have recently heard from several people who were trying to purchase an Alto kalimba, but their attempts were somehow foiled. Some ignorant sellers are marketing cheaper kalimbas, claiming them to be Hugh Tracey Alto kalimbas. One fellow who was trying to get a good deal had bought two different kalimbas that claimed to be Hugh Tracey Alto kalimbas... but neither of them were! He begged me: "How am I going to get an Alto kalimba?"

Well, it isn't that hard.

I have been selling the Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba to the world since 2005. And it is one of my favorite kalimbas. I play it more than I play any of the hundreds of other kalimbas I have around me. It is like a reliable best friend that I can always count on. But the Alto is currently being overshadowed by the ubiquitous and inexpensive Chinese-made 17-note kalimbas, but it is really deserving of much more attention.

Read on to find out the most important reasons why you should have your own Alto Kalimba.

26 November 2019

Why Are Some of the Tines Colored?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The Top Five Reasons Why

Why Are Some of the Tines Colored?

My idea of kalimba playing perfection is being able to know exactly where every tine is on my kalimba without looking. To be able to leap across from one side to the other, or to be able to jump large intervals from a low tine to a high tine... perfectly! To be able to play amazingly, quickly, accurately, and crisply, all by feel and memory.

Ah, it's a lovely dream. But after playing for 33 years, I still like to rely on visual cues to help me keep my place and find my way on the kalimba.

This blog post describes five different ways in which painted tines provide visual cures to help you play better kalimba.

26 November 2019

Why Should You Buy From Kalimba Magic?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Because of the greatly superior overall kalimba experience that you'll have with us

Most kalimbas you buy online will arrive at your door in a relatively untuned state. Most kalimbas you buy online are packed by someone who has no idea of how to set up the instrument.

At Kalimba Magic, Mark Holdaway or Mike Ankomeus tune every kalimba before it ships. We paint the relevant tines to help you read the tablature. We include a tuning chart and a "care and feeding" card directing you to the online resources you will need to keep your kalimba sounding good and playing well. And we direct you to a plethora of instructional materials for your kalimba.

There are some other things to know about Kalimba Magic that can make your experience with kalimbas immeasurably more worthwhile and rewarding. Wouldn't you like to learn more?

26 September 2019

Updated: Christmas Music Resources

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

If you want to perform some carols on kalimba this Christmas, start now!

Updated: Christmas Music Resources

Over the years, we have created a lot of books, instructional materials, videos, and articles about playing Christmas music on your kalimba.

For your pre-pre-Christmas consideration, I have collected it all in one place for you. If you want to spend money, we have plenty of books, ebooks, and CDs for you to take advantage of. If you don't want to spend money, we have created a lot of free resources, and they are all listed here.

You might ask why I have so many resources for playing Christmas music on the kalimba. It is because I love the simple, charming, and beautiful sound of Christmas music played on the kalimba.

20 October 2019

Cornelius Duncan Plays Hugh Tracey Kalimba on The #1 Jazz CD

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

After playing for 40+ years, Cornelius Duncan has jumped to the top!

Cornelius Duncan Plays Hugh Tracey Kalimba on The #1 Jazz CD

Cornelius Duncan has been playing his Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba in this "Duncan tuning" for most of his life. But he did not invent this tuning - rather, it came from his brother, Phillip Allen Duncan.

A stunning YouTube video of Cornelius Duncan playing his special-tuned Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba has had just 2000 views over its 7-year life. Cornelius’ music honors legendary 1960s jazz saxophonist John Coltrane by playing a song that reflects Coltraine's song, “A Love Supreme.” The song, called "A Kalimba Supreme" is serious and meditative, showing the master kalimba player offering his strands of music to Coltrane the jazz master, as well as to us all.

But how did Cornelius and his kalimba end up on the country's #1 selling jazz album?

25 October 2019

What Should I Do About Rusty Tines?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

If you live in a humid climate, your kalimba tines could rust over the years

What Should I Do About Rusty Tines?

I have seen some pretty old kalimbas with totally rusted tines. Kalimbas that have lived on a sailboat for 5 years. Kalimbas that have lived in Hawaii for 20 years. Kalimbas that have lived in Miama for 10 years. These high humidity environs can certainly induce kalimba tine rust. But I think most of these kalimbas could have been handled differently so they didn't get so bad so fast.

Keep reading if you would like to know some simple things you can do to prevent or remove rust from your kalimba tines.

12 November 2019

Octaves on the 17-Note Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

On most kalimbas, including the 17-Note Kalimba in C, octave pair notes will be on opposite hands

Octaves on the 17-Note Kalimba

Here is a great tip to help you play the 17-note kalimba. Actually, most "regular" kalimbas follow this rule, so read on even if you have an 8-Note, an Alto, a Treble, or a Pentatonic kalimba.

"Regular" kalimbas have low notes in the center, and as you go farther from the center, notes get higher. Consecutive notes alternate from right to left, going outward as you go up the scale.

Consider the scale "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do" = "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8." If the low note, "Do" is on the right side, and the "Re" note is on the left side... you will find that the high "Do" is on the left side of the kalimba, on the hand opposite the lower version of the same note.

Check out what this means when you're playing the kalimba!

16 November 2019

Brand New to Kalimba? Step 2

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Find the books and downloads that will work for your kalimba

Brand New to Kalimba?  Step 2

Hi, Mark from Kalimba Magic again.

Each different type of kalimba, with different notes, is capable of different songs. Hence, each different type of kalimba needs its own book. As there are dozens of fundamentally different types of kalimbas out there, there are many many kalimba books... in my universe, anyway!

I have written 50 kalimba instructional downloads and 25 kalimba books. And so, when you go looking at my kalimba books or ebooks, figuring out which one/s would work with your kalimba could be a big task.

Here is a great tip for you: on most of Kalimba Magic's book and ebook product pages, there will be an image of that specific kalimba's tuning chart (which is what that kalimba looks like). If your kalimba matches the book's chart, that book is for you. If not, you probably need another book, or you may need to retune your kalimba.

This blog post also provides you with links for all the instructional resources for certain popular kalimbas.

19 November 2019

New: Duncan-tuned Alto Kalimba and Book

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This is the tuning Cornelius Duncan uses on his track on Poncho Sanchez' Acclaimed CD "Trane's Delight"

New: Duncan-tuned Alto Kalimba and Book

One of the key features of most kalimbas: You will find the higher-octave note on the opposite side from where you find that same note an octave lower. For example, low C is on the right, and the C that's an octave higher is on the left side of the kalimba. This layout (which is of alternating ascending notes) completely informs how the instrument is played and the resulting music.                                       

But what if there were a tuning where a given note that is on the right side... stays on the right side in the upper octaves? Such a tuning would be played totally differently than the standard kalimba tunings, and it would also make quite different music.

Are you interested in making totally different music and getting a totally different kalimba experience, just for the price of a new tuning? Come with me as we explore the Duncan-tuned kalimba tuning!

30 September 2019

Brand New to Kalimba?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Mark can point you to many helpful resources

Brand New to Kalimba?
 Thank you for connecting with Kalimba Magic.
 
I am Mark Holdaway, founder and director of Kalimba Magic. I am dedicated to teaching the world to play this wonderful little instrument. You will find all sorts of useful posts coming through the Kalimba Magic blogs and Facebook page, including playing and performance tips, interviews with players, information about new kalimbas or kalimba books, inspirational tidbits, and free instructional material and tablature.
 
What else do you need to know right now? Let me guess.

30 September 2019

10 Most-viewed Blog Posts

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A reprise of the past two years' "greatest hits" at Kalimba Magic

10 Most-viewed Blog Posts

I'm Mark Holdaway. founder and director of Kalimba Magic. About once a month, I write a newsletter delivering a brand new batch of blog posts concerning the kalimba and how to play it. Some of these posts will get a few thousand views - those are the ones I write for myself. Other posts receive over a hundred thousand views, and apparently those are the ones that I write for the rest of the world.

This is a collection of our 10 most-viewed Kalimba Magic posts. At least some of them will likely be useful to you.

11 September 2019

Instructional Resources for the B11 Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Tunings, Books, eBooks, and Kalimbas

Instructional Resources for the B11 Kalimba

The simple 9-Note Sansula, or Hokema B9, has been a spectacular, emotive instrument that people have loved for almost 20 years.

Now it's time to move up to the B11. While the Sansula is charming and beautiful, there are precious few songs you can play on it. The B11 has another name - the "Melody". That is because it lends itself to making melodies with simple accompaniment,

In other words, if you seem to be at a dead end with the Sansula, you might want to check out the B11, because there is so much more music you can do with it!

30 August 2019

Performing on Kalimba: yet more advice

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Earlier posts help you prepare. This post deals with the day of performance.

Performing on Kalimba: yet more advice

When you are playing a kalimba performance, the most important thing is to have a good time. If you are happy and having fun, it will show. The audience will see you, really see you, and this gives a huge opening for the music. So, the big advice is that the day of your kalimba performance should mostly lead up to you being relaxed and having fun.

I like to run through all of the songs I will be performing. Sometimes, like if I am performing on a shipping day, I will have to work and won't have time for a run-through. In that situation, I try to do a run-through the previous night.

More kalimba performance advice?

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