eBook for the A minor Karimba

A new eBook with material for this exotic minor tuning

Get the A minor Karimba Download

Here is a true story. Lex, a Tucson friend of mine who has hit upon hard times, visited us at Kalimba Magic the other day. Months earlier he had given away his beloved African-tuned karimba so he could put a bad relationship which had included that karimba into the past.

But he really needed to make music, and he came over to see what instrument I had that might speak to him. While we were talking, we wandered past where Sara was editing the new A minor Karimba book, with an A minor karimba next to her that she would play occasionally for reference.

Lex picked up the A minor Karimba and began plucking – and his jaw dropped. Then he smiled and laughed and said “Mysterious and enchanting!” I glanced at Sara’s computer screen, but no, the computer was not open to the back cover of the eBook that declares this tuning is “Enchanting and mysterious.”  

Obviously the A minor karimba is mysterious and enchanting and Lex went home with an A minor karimba that day.

Yes, Lex’s new karimba was the same as the one he’d recently let go of, but in the A minor tuning, it plays quite different music. What a joy!


This 48-page PDF ebook download has links to sound files for 24 different learning exercises and 3 grand compositions for the A minor karimba. Live links to MP3 files make this easy to use from computer, tablet, or phone.

Here is an Article equating Karimba with Mbira Nyunga Nyunga.

The Hugh Tracey karimba is a modern 17-note version of the karimba, a respected member of the traditional African mbira / kalimba family tree.

The traditional tuning which Hugh Tracey documented in the 1950s for the karimba has a classic African sound – it puts the 3rd, the 6th, and the 7th tones of the scale somewhere in between western major and minor intervals. Octaves and 5ths were more or less the same as the western intervals.

If playing the karimba together with western instruments like guitar or piano is desired, these African microtonal intervals can be “rectified” to the closest western note by retuning, usually to major intervals. But a karimba that is retuned to minor intervals is also a treat to play. The minor 3rd, 6th, and 7th make for a lovely and enchanting sound. This book explores the possibilities of the minor-tuned African karimba.

The music that I am presenting for the A minor-tuned karimba is not traditional African music, but it is built on many of the principles of African music. Most notable of those is the cyclic nature of African music. You learn a little bit of music, and you repeat it, over and over again, without a gap between the last time and the next time. As a song continues, little by little, new and interesting variations are woven into the music, and it grows in complexity. Eventually, the song gradually winds down until it is soft and simple once again.

Here is one of the exercises from the book, showing you one of the two techniques for using your right index finger in addition to the two thumbs. Instead of different “variations,” the different repeated sections illustrate different levels toward learning the final syncopated phrase in measures 9-12.

Am Karimba p37
Click the sound icon to download the MP3 file to hear how this goes!

If you already have a karimba, African-tuned or Western major-tuned, you can probably accomplish the retuning to minor yourself. See the link to the tuning page below.

If you have difficulty retuning your kalimba, you can send it in to the Kalimba Doctor. See the link below.

If you already play several songs on the Western major or African-tuned karimba, and you want to keep those songs, you may want to invest in a new A minor karimba to own in addition to your other tuning.

If you own a G minor-tuned karimba, this tablature will work for your karimba, however the sound recordings in this download will sound different (they will be off in key by a whole step.)

By the way: this book is meant to replace the old download “Three Original Pieces for Gm Karimba.” Those three compositions have been reworked and recorded, and the exercises all build skills you will need to play the three big pieces in the A minor ebook. And of course, everything has been bundled up into a nicely organized and nicely edited, single PDF ebook download. 

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