News and Announcements

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

More 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

More 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.

We have several new bag designs as of June 2019.

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?

13 August 2019

Duets for 10-Note and 17-Note Kalimbas

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The new ebook will show you some great ways two kalimbas can play together

Duets for 10-Note and 17-Note Kalimbas

The 10-Note and 17-Note kalimbas work really well together, mainly because their notes (tines) match exactly. 

This book is a broad exploration of some of the ways that two kalimbas can fit together. Typically, the 17-Note parts will be more advanced than the 10-Note parts, but not always!

Playing kalimba together is an amazing way to be close to another human being. This book is intended to help people get close together. Grandparent and grandchild? Yes! Parent and child? Yes! Friends? Yes! Lovers? Spouses? Yes!!

I invite you to learn more about this ebook!

27 August 2019

Take Your 8-Note (or 10-Note) Kalimba Playing to the Next Level

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

How? By slightly retuning one tine, and by getting our new ebook

Take Your 8-Note (or 10-Note) Kalimba Playing to the Next Level

If you have an 8-Note or a 10-Note kalimba, you may have learned "Joy to the World," "Ba Ba Black Sheep," and "Doe, a Deer" or various other simple songs. But what do you do next?

Typically, when someone masters a kalimba, they search for another kalimba challenge - usually a bigger or more exotic kalimba. However, I offer you another path, and it's right in front of you! A very simple modification of your 8-Note or 10-Note kalimba will transform it into a new tuning, with a new repertoire - essentially providing you with the challenge of a new kalimba without having to acquire another one.

Just how do you accomplish this very simple transformation? I'll show you! And once you have your "new" kalimba, it will be capable of playing all the songs in our newly published ebook 32 Songs for the 8-Note (or 10-Note) Kalimba.

08 September 2019

Selecting Songs for a Kalimba Performance

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

From my experiences in the past

Selecting Songs for a Kalimba Performance

One kalimba associate asks: "How do I choose the songs to play at my kalimba performance?"

Well, you want songs that connect with meaning and significance to you... and also to your audience.

Even though your kalimba is probably not a traditional African instrument, I ask you to consider it nonetheless as a sacred instrument, capable of touching people, moving people, healing people, and helping people be their best. Of course, that means both the musician and the audience. Seemingly a tall order, but the magical kalimba is suited for it.

And the songs you choose can play into this narrative.

25 November 2015

Using the 6-Note Songbook on Any Kalimba

Posted in News and Announcements

If you are having difficulty finding your way around a big kalimba, step back and simplify

Using the 6-Note Songbook on Any Kalimba

If you would like to play specific songs on your kalimba but you don't know where to start, or if you feel you haven't really connected well with your kalimba, you might want to consider getting the 6-Note Pentatonic Song Book.

22 February 2016

Is it Kalimba, Karimba, or Mbira?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

What name should I use for my thumb piano?

Is it Kalimba, Karimba, or Mbira?

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?

08 April 2016

Retuning the Pentatonic Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A Guide to Changing from G Major Tuning to Other Exotic Tunings

Retuning the Pentatonic Kalimba

Why would anyone retune their kalimba? Well, I hope you DO tune up your kalimba every few weeks or so, at least to maintain its correct original tuning. However, once you learn the skills required to brush up the kalimba's tuning, you also possess the skills required to explore alternative tunings - you just need to push or pull the tines a bit farther than the very delicate moves required to fine-tune the kalimba.

But again, why would someone retune their kalimba to a different tuning? Because different musics are available to different tunings, and because different tunings help produce different emotional expression. If you ever start to get bored with your particular kalimba and what you can do with it, you should consider changing to another tuning to see what new music might speak to you.

This article walks you through four different possible retunings for the 11-note pentatonic kalimba. So, if fear or uncertainty were preventing you from taking the plunge and retuning your kalimba, you now have the tools and guidance to jump into the river and baptise yourself in the flow of ever-changing musical possibilities. Really - once you begin to explore new tunings, it's a whole new world!

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!

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