News and Announcements

11 December 2018

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

These days, most people find Kalimba Magic after they have bought an inexpensive Chinese-made 17-Note kalimba from Amazon or eBay, and they are mystified and confused and want to learn how to play it and maintain it. They google something like "Learn to play 17-Note Kalimba," up comes a results page dominated by Kalimba Magic content. There's a good reason for that!

Kalimba Magic is unique. Almost nobody in the world has created quality kalimba instructional materials. I have written 45 kalimba downloads and 25 kalimba books. And these books and ebooks are not small: 40, 60, some are even 100 pages. Most of the books link to MP3 files (older ones have CDs), and all of our downloads have MP3 files, so you can hear what the music that you're learning should sound like.

There are some other things to know about Kalimba Magic that can make your experience with kalimbas immeasurably more worthwhile and rewarding.

09 December 2018

Exotic Sansula Tunings - G Major

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

And save 20% on a Sansula, B9, or B11 Kalimba with Coupon Code SANS20, now through Dec 25 2018

Exotic Sansula Tunings - G Major

"Oh - it's so small... it only has nine notes - that's not much."

I must admit, hearing comments like that always leave me a bit disconcerted. Yes, she was a piano player who was accustomed to having scores of notes at her fingertips. I could have explained to her: "This is a magical instrument that just creates its own music, just the way it is. These 9 notes have a special story to tell."

But the words did not come out. Instead, I started playing that small nine-note Sansula... and then picked up another Sansula in a different tuning... and then another. After listening, she nodded with understanding, and said "Oh, what a charming little instrument! And it seems there is not a single wrong note on it." Of course not! With only nine notes, you have to make them all count!

08 December 2018

Three Inexpensive Soft-Shell Kalimba Cases

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The Small case fits the 10-Note Kalimba, Medium fits the 17-Note or Treble, Large fits the Alto and Chromatic

Three Inexpensive Soft-Shell Kalimba Cases

How do you safely travel with your kalimba, keeping it from potential accidental trauma? For an unfortunately long period of time, my answer has been "I pack it between my underwear and socks." The fragile Sansula has a nice soft bag and a very nice wood case. But if you play one of the more standard kalimbas, once its box wears out, you might be packing yours between a few T-shirts too.

To those who would persist about this glaring deficiency, I would say: "Go to Target's back-to-school section in August, and pick out a nice padded/insulated, soft-sided lunch sack."

Today, I am happy to recommend a new solution: tough, attractive, black, zipping, form-fitting, well-padded soft-shell kalimba cases, at $10, $11.50, and $13. Most kalimba pages in the Kalimba Magic Shop now have the option to add one of these kalimba cases.

10 December 2018

Playing well Together: 10-Note and 17-Note Heart Kalimbas

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A great pair of kalimbas for a beginner and an experienced player. Sweet video, too!

Playing well Together: 10-Note and 17-Note Heart Kalimbas

Yes, I have been making the point about the 10-Note and the 17-Note kalimbas for months: the lower notes (the 10 inner tines) on the 17-Note kalimba in C are an exact match to the notes of the 10-Note kalimba in C. One consequence: if playing on 17 notes is too hard, hide 7 of those tines and just play it as if it were a 10-Note, using the 10-Note downloads. Another consequence: if you get the 10-Note and do well with it, you can then buy the 17-Note kalimba and everything you learned on the 10-Note is immediately transferable to the 17-Note.

But today I am making a different point: if you are a mother, father, grandmother or grandfather, and you want to get a bigger kalimba for yourself and a simpler kalimba (which could be played together with yours) for your child or grandchild, I think the 10-Note and 17-Note kalimbas will make a great team for you and your special kalimba partner.

09 December 2018

Learn to Play the 10-Note Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Learn the 10-Note and prepare for the 17-Note - You can sample one lesson from each of our four 10-Note downloads

Learn to Play the 10-Note Kalimba

I am really taken with the 10-Note kalimba. I think it is one of the best choices you can make for most kids ages 8-14. But I also think there are a lot of adults who get a 17-Note kalimba and then get frustrated with it, because it is more complicated than they are ready for.

To try to woo you toward the 10-Note kalimba, I am sharing a lesson from each of my four instructional downloads: "Fun and Games on the 10-Note Kalimba," "Everything You Need to Know to Play the 10-Note Kalimba," "African Music on the 10-Note Kalimba," and "Easy Christmas Carols on the 10-Note Kalimba."

10 December 2018

In defense of the Treble, the original Hugh Tracey Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The subtle brilliance of Hugh Tracey's Treble Kalimba Tuning

In defense of the Treble, the original Hugh Tracey Kalimba

When Hugh Tracey started making the Treble kalimba with five painted tines and 17 notes  in 1954, it was the very first commercial kalimba. The Treble has a rich history, though the instrument's setup is somewhat problematic. On most modern kalimbas, the "key note" or "root note" is the lowest note on the instrument and this has great advantages. The Treble kalimba, however, is in the key of G but is missing that low G and A. It actually starts on B, the 3rd of the scale. It can take some work to play a Treble well.

So we see that the Treble setup is confusing all on its own. And what is making things trickier for the Treble is the new Chinese-made 17-Note kalimbas, which look just like the Treble kalimba, right down to those five painted tines. The new kalimbas are in the key of C, and also have C as the low note which makes this new tuning an obvious choice, and lots of people are going to this instrument in lieu of the Treble.

Even though the 17-Note looks like a Treble, it is not at all a Treble, and its tine-painting scheme makes it impossible to learn from any instructional materials that Kalimba Magic offers. But this is easily remedied and you can learn all about it in the recent post _________________________.

So is the venerable progenitor of the new 17-Note kalimbas going to way of the dodo?

23 November 2018

How Should I Paint the Tines on My 17-Note Kalimba?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

And what books should I get for my 17-Note Kalimba?

How Should I Paint the Tines on My 17-Note Kalimba?

When Hugh Tracey started making his 17-Note Treble kalimbas in South Africa in 1954, the instruments had one out of every three tines painted, on each side of the kalimba. These Treble kalimbas ended up with five painted tines, in the key of G, with the low note being B.

Now, a new crop of 17-note kalimbas from China has surfaced under names such as Gecko, Donner, and Walter kalimbas. They are all in the key of C. So while looking exactly like the Treble Hugh Tracey kalimba, they are in a different key, which changes everything. These kalimbas come unpainted with decals for marking the tines, and the manufacturers recommend marking five tines - which is the exact Treble painting scheme. But this can be a problem and here is why:

Tine painting defines how a person learns to play a kalimba and tremendously eases the process of learning songs from kalimba tablature.  Hugh Tracey's Treble kalimba is in the key of G and has its own unique tine-painting layout. But you cannot use Treble instructional materials with your 17-note in C. In order for you to take advantage of the vast offering of Kalimba Magic books, instructional downloads and hundreds of songs that are applicable to the 17-note in C (including all downloads for the 10-note kalimba, 66 Songs for the 17-Note, plus the entire body of Alto kalimba literature) - the Treble's five-tine painting scheme will simply not work. 

By using the six-tine painting scheme outlined in this post, your 17-note becomes part of a world of song instruction, help, and community at your fingertips.

02 December 2018

The Big Four Kalimba Playoff: Silent Night

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Compare: 10-Note Heart, 17-Note Heart, Hugh Tracey Alto, and Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimbas

The Big Four Kalimba Playoff: Silent Night

I have just finished "Easy Christmas" ebooks for each of four of my best selling kalimbas. Part of every ebook is the sound recordings for each song. So, I have a great data set for comparing these four popular kalimbas, side by side.

28 November 2018

Easy Christmas Music for Treble Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

All your holiday favorites, arranged for the Hugh Tracey Treble in G

Easy Christmas Music for Treble Kalimba

This collection of Christmas favorites has been arranged specifically for the Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba in G. We started with a set of generic arrangements, but refined several of them so all the songs are comfortable and easy to play on the 17-Note Hugh Tracey Treble kalimba.

I have been playing Christmas Carols on the kalimba for 20 years. Not only is it a fine way to learn your kalimba, working on songs you already know. It is also a fantastic way to cultivate feelings of joy and gratitude during the lead-up to the holiday season. It is also a great way to share joy with other people in your life.

This 59-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 32 different versions of 28 different carols. This book has enough easy songs to have you playing carols right away, and it has enough complex songs to keep you learning and playing carols each holiday season for years!

27 November 2018

Greensleeves and the Flexibility of Kalimba Tablature

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Using the universal language of tine painting, Your 15-Note Alto or 17-Note Kalimba in C can read 8-Note Tablature!

Greensleeves and the Flexibility of Kalimba Tablature

Two years ago, I made a video demonstration of my kalimba tablature (which I originally created in 2004 to facilitate learning and sharing music on kalimba), playing Greensleeves on the 8-Note kalimba. The illustration at the top of this article is from that video. Three of the kalimba's tines were painted red, and the three corresponding columns in the tablature were also colored red - the tablature is a replica of the kalimba, and each column represents a different tine.

What if you loved "Greensleeves" and wanted to play it on your 17-Note kalimba? Is it even possible to transfer music for one kalimba to a different one? Generally, you cannot play 17-Note kalimba music on an 8-Note kalimba; it just doesn't have all the notes you likely need. But you can generally do the opposite, which is to play 8-Note kalimba music on your 17-Note kalimba... if one crucial thing is true: that the 17-Note has tines painted in the same logical scheme. And this is possible even though the 17-Note is in C and the 8-Note is in D. Tine painting can make all things possible!

26 November 2018

What Colors Are Available for Painting Kalimba Tines?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

a profusion of possible colors!

What Colors Are Available for Painting Kalimba Tines?

Come with me for a moment, to stand behind Hugh Tracey, circa 1952. For years before he began selling his kalimbas, Dr. Tracey worked at perfecting a new kalimba invention, creating over 100 prototypes, experimenting with various design features. When he finally settled on what worked and sounded best for his Treble kalimba, he had really accomplished a tremendous feat. Hugh Tracey kalimbas still look almost exactly as they did in 1954, when he started selling them to the world, and many kalimba makers across the globe copy the Hugh Tracey Treble design. Hugh Tracey's work is the standard by which modern kalimbas are judged.

One very significant change that Dr.Tracey made to traditional African instruments was to paint every third tine on his kalimba. Why? To help you find your way on its 17 otherwise indistinguishable tines.

Hugh Tracey kalimbas generally come with just RED or BLUE painted tines. But Kalimba Magic offers you LOTS MORE CHOICES...  including BLACK and _______.

26 November 2018

Free Tablature for "Let it Snow"

Posted in News and Announcements

You can learn to play this song yourself with Free Tab for Alto and 17-Note Kalimbas

Free Tablature for

The classic holiday song "Let it Snow" has a great trick that usually doesn't work on the kalimba. Some songs, including this one, modulate to a different key temporarily. Usually, when you modulate to another key, you have "accidentals" - that is, notes that are not in the original key, or even on the kalimba! Well, "Let it Snow" can be played happily on your kalimba with a bit of musical sleight-of-hand.

You can hear the modulation in "Let it Snow" - it happens in the bridge at 0:42 in the video. At that point, another note and another chord temporarily become "home base." How do you think I will navigate this?

 

29 November 2018

How to Deal With ZIP File Downloads

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Our Older Downloads Come As a ZIP File, a collection of tablature PDFs for multiple songs

How to Deal With ZIP File Downloads

 Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about our "New and Improved Downloads." They are great and convenient - a single PDF file, easily downloaded, with live links to the MP3 files and to other helpful kalimba resources online.

Kalimba Magic's older downloads were and still are sent out as ZIP files. Many people have no problem navigating the ZIP file. In recent times I have sold hundreds of the "66 Songs for 17-Note Kalimba in C" (ZIP file) download, and several people have had issues with opening it. So I am addressing this issue here.

09 November 2018

Easy Christmas Music: 17-Note Kalimba in C

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

All your holiday favorites, arranged just for your kalimba

Easy Christmas Music: 17-Note Kalimba in C

This collection of Christmas favorites has been arranged specifically for the 17-Note kalimba in C.

I have been playing Christmas Carols on the kalimba for 20 years. Not only is it a fine way to learn your kalimba, working on songs you already know. It is also a fantastic way to cultivate feelings of joy and gratitude during the lead-up to the holiday season. It is also a great way to share joy with other people in your life.

This 59-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 32 different versions of 28 different carols. This book has enough easy songs to have you playing carols right away, and it has enough complex songs to keep you learning carols each holiday season for years!

25 October 2018

Buying Kalimbas for Kids: One Tine per Year of Age

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Of course, this is just a rule of thumb

Buying Kalimbas for Kids: One Tine per Year of Age

I often get asked "Hey, what kalimba should I get for my kids?"  My response is to say that it depends on how old they are. And the rule of thumb above is a good one.

People love to think of their kids as more advanced than they actually are. Maybe what we parents do is to see our child's potential rather than their actuality. I know for a fact that I was sometimes disadvantaged by my own parents' excessive belief in my abilities, and I did get a lot of gifts that were, frankly, a bit beyond me. In the beginning it's often better to be great on a simple thing than to get lost in a complicated one.

OK - so what kalimba will be right for your kids?

16 November 2018

Easy Christmas Music for Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

All your holiday favorites, arranged for the 15-note Alto in G

Easy Christmas Music for Alto Kalimba

This collection of Christmas favorites has been arranged specifically for the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba in G. We started with a set of generic arrangements, but refined several of them so all the songs are comfortable and easy to play on the 15-Note Alto.

I myself have been playing Christmas Carols on the kalimba for 20 years. Playing carols is a fine way to learn your kalimba, working on songs you already know. It is also a great way to learn about classical harmony. Playing carols is a fantastic way to cultivate feelings of joy and gratitude during the leadup to the holiday season. It is also a great way to share joy with other people in your life.

This 59-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 32 different versions of 28 different carols. This book has enough easy songs to have you playing carols right away, and it has enough complex songs to keep you learning carols each holiday season for years!

07 November 2018

Dajari-F B11 Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This tuning was invented to play with an F major hand pan

Dajari-F B11 Tuning

I should have known better than to post a video of a kalimba in a strange new tuning, and then not also make that tuning available to everyone. Several folks have requested the Dajari-F B11 tuning, so here it is.

The initial plan for this year was to make instructional downloads for each of six exotic B11 tunings, to demonstrate the breadth of music that is possible on this otherwise unassuming but beautiful kalimba... but then Christmas came knocking, and with it came the creation of four new books of Easy Christmas Carols... to get this done, several items had to be put on hold including the exotic B11 project and the Dajari-F tuning.

We regret the delay, but now you are invited to explore this very clean and positive B11 tuning.

15 November 2018

"Forgiveness" - A Song for You To Learn on Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free Tablature for Alto Kalimba and 17-Note Kalimba in C

I write this blog post as a gift to the five people who have asked for the tablature.

I made a video of this song a few months ago to demo the 17-Note Heart Kalimba in C, but I wrote the song about 15 years ago. Originally, it was called "Chorale," and I wrote it originally on piano, as a love song for my sweetie, Deb.

The first 16 measures were included in my first kalimba book "Kalimba Fundamentals for the Alto Kalimba" under the name "Chorale." A longer version was included in the "Advanced Alto Download."

Are you wondering why I call this song "Forgiveness" now, and not "Chorale"?

08 October 2018

Learn to Play the Elvis Presley hit "Love Me Tender" on Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Get Free Tablature, Learn from the Video

Learn to Play the Elvis Presley hit

A Kalimba Magic customer recently expressed the desire to play the eternally popular "Love Me Tender" on their 17-Note Kalimba in C, and the result is this blog post and free tablature for everyone to learn it. The 17-Note C Kalimba tablature is also usable with a 15-Note ALTO kalimba, and if you have Alto kalimba tablature, you can use it for your 17-Note in C - just be aware that the note names will be shifted by a 4th.

What's cool about this post is that we break the music down into three versions (on tablature AND on video!) - melody only, melody plus chords, and melody plus fully chromatic chords. This makes it so easy for you that it practically plays itself. Give it a look!

08 October 2018

Learn to Play "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" on Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Get Free Tablature for 17-Note Kalimba in C

Learn to Play

You may very well know that right now, the most popular kalimba video in the world is by Acoustic Trench, playing "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" (made most famous by Elvis Presley in 1961) on an alternatively-tuned 17-Note kalimba. Trench's tuning made a bass scale, going from the center to the far left - and a treble scale, going from the center to the far right. He played melody on the right and accompaniment on the left.

Well now - let's just say that right now you are sitting in the catbird seat, because you have choices. You can learn to play the song in this alternative tuning; or you could learn to play it in the generic tuning for the 17-note kalimba, where both thumbs are involved in playing the melody.

15 October 2018

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 32 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 can help you play better kalimba.

18 October 2018

Easy Christmas Music for 10-Note Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This is Perfect for the Beginning Kalimba Player

Easy Christmas Music for 10-Note Kalimba

This collection of Christmas favorites has been arranged specifically for the 10-Note kalimba in C.

This 59-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 28 different carols. Now that is quite something, really... so few notes and such a huge repertoire! Read on to find my secret technique for expanding the range of this tiny instrument. This book has enough to keep you learning carols each holiday season for years!

18 October 2018

Where can I find african or african-style songs for the Kalimba?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

We actually have a lot of African music for kalimbas

Where can I find african or african-style songs for the Kalimba?

Last week, someone emailed me asking: "I've looked at a lot of your music, and I cannot find the African music! Is there any actual African music for the kalimba?"

The answer is YES! Although admittedly, I do provide a lot of other types of music - Sansula music, folk tunes, Christmas songs, Elvis songs, nursery rhymes, New Age music... and it is easy to get lost. But there is plenty of African stuff here!

'Way back around 10 years ago, I was embarrassed about how little I knew about African music, and how little of it I offered at Kalimba Magic. But now, after a lot of work, learning and playing, all of that has changed, and we actually have a LOT about African music.

20 October 2018

The Making of A Celtic-D Karimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This is part of what "Available Only At Kalimba Magic" really means

The Making of A Celtic-D Karimba

When they get an order, most of the world's kalimba purveyors just pull an instrument off the shelf, pack it in a box, and put a label on it.

At Kalimba Magic, we do so much more. We fine-tune the instrument. We paint the tines for guidance. Sometimes we retune the instrument to a different tuning.

And sometimes we just take the whole thing apart, rearrange the kalimba, and rebuild it as a totally different beast.

That is how we make the Celtic D Kalimba, SaReGaMa karimbas, and a whole host of custom-tuned instruments.

Follow along as I work my magic to create a Celtic D:

[12 3 4 5  >>