Instructional Resources for the African Karimba (mbira nyunga nyunga)

We have resources for the 17-Note Karimba in the key of A, the 15-Note in F (mbira nyunga nyunga), and Student Karimba

All of the instruments in the karimba family are very closely related, in fact Andrew Tracey hypothesizes that they all possess the original mbira tuning from 1300 years ago when the first metal-tined instruments were made.

The 8-Note version may actually be the exact replica of the original mbira. Jege Tapera played a 13-note version. It was copied and key-shifted to make the 15-note version of the instrument in the key of F, which is now commonly known as the mbira nyunga nyunga. And AMI has been making the 17-Note karimba in the key of A since about 1980.

Clearly, there is a lot of history here. And a lot of music too.


The first half of this blog post lists all the currently available books, ebooks, and downloads for the various members of this family of traditional African instruments. Following that is a list with descriptions, sound files, and a link to the Shop page for each of the various karimba models offered by Kalimba Magic.

Karimba Tuning

The Student Karimba has the 8 or 9 tines of the lower row of the karimba /nyunga nyunga, and is a good introduction to the instrument.

About 30 Traditional African Songs for the Karimba (Book)

This 72-page hard copy book contains karimba tablature and links to MP3 and KTabS file downloads for 32 traditional African karimba songs. The music in this collection is really outstanding, and if you have a karimba, you really should have this book too! Includes some of the first notated and first recorded karimba songs from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Written and recorded specifically for the Hugh Tracey African-tuned Karimba, with 17 notes, in A.Product Page

Student Karimba for Kids (Booklet)

This 16-page, 20-song tablature-based booklet includes a URL from which you can download MP3s of each song in both the G-tuned and C-tuned versions. That is, it works just the same for the C tuning or the G tuning. Similarly, the tablature is written for a 9-note kalimba, but all of the songs also work for the 8-Note versions of the student karimba.Product Page

Playing the Hugh Tracey Karimba (Book)

A sonic exploration of the African-tuned karimba. This book explores the unique note layout, and how that note layout leads you to different melodies and rhythms. While harmony is usually not a part of traditional African music, we do explore the connection between western harmony and the arpeggios that come easily to the karimba. Our unique karimba tablature makes learning to play the karimba a breeze!

42 pages, B/W photos, CD included.Product Page

Student Karimba (Book)

The first book for learning the Student Karimba. Also works for the lower-row tines on the full karimba. 52 pages, CD included.

The 8-Note karimba is probably very close to the original Africa mbira as it was played 1300 years ago, according to the research of Dr. Andrew Tracey. Based on several sources – A.M. Jones’ 1950 paper on the Lala Tribe’s kalimba in Northern Rhodesia, Hugh Tracey’s field recordings from around 1950, songs Andrew Tracey learned from Jege Tapera, and Paul F. Berliner’s tabulated songs in The Soul of Mbira – we have deconstructed the music of the mbira nyunga nyunga and recast it into the form it may have taken over a thousand years on the primal karimba, which I refer to here as the Student Karimba.Product Page

Traditional African Music for Mbira Nyunga Nyunga (eBook)

“African Songs for the Mbira Nyunga Nyunga” (aka the 15-Note Karimba in F) is a 78-page PDF eBook download that has tablature and live links to sound files for 30 different traditional African karimba songs (and other musical examples). Live links to MP3 files make this easy to use from computer, tablet, or phone.

The mbira nyunga nyunga, also known as the Kwanongoma-style karimba, or the 15-note karimba in F, is a very important instrument in the history of African music. Most of the songs in this collection are historically important – from the A.M. Jones 1950 article on the Kalimba, or transcribed from Hugh Tracey’s original field recordings, or Andrew Tracey’s 1961 paper on the music of Jege Tapera, or the appendix to the second edition of Paul F. Berliner’s book The Soul of Mbira.Product Page

About 30 Traditional African Songs for the Hugh Tracey African Karimba (eBook)

This 74-page PDF contains karimba tablature and links to MP3 and KTabS file downloads for 32 traditional African karimba songs.The music in this collection is really outstanding, and if you have a karimba, you really should have this e-book too! Contains interesting notes on some songs, an extensive bibliography, notes on performing African karimba music, and a three-page investigation of the chord progressions of karimba and mbira music and how those map into western music.Product Page

10 Traditional African Pieces for Alto Kalimba (Download)

Welcome to the collection of traditional African karimba tunes arranged for the Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba.

These ten songs come from two sources: five were collected by Andrew Tracey, and five are notated in the appendix of Paul F. Berliner’s book The Soul of Mbira. Most or all of these songs go back to the Shona karimba master Jege Tapera. Andrew Tracey met Jege Tapera in 1960 and recruited him for the Kwanongoma College of African Music in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (ZImbabwe), where he taught these songs to many.Product Page

11 Advanced Traditional African Karimba Pieces for ALTO Kalimba (Download)

This download consists of a ZIP FILE containing tablature PDFs, KTabS files, and MP3s for each of 11 traditional African Karimba songs, arranged for the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba in G. These songs and their multiple variations were collected from the literature by Ivodne Galatea, with assistance from Mark Holdaway.

Important note: these songs were created on the African-tuned karimba, also known as the mbira nyunga nyunga, and playing them on the Alto is possible, but is more challenging, and will require some special tricks. In other words, this will be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort you put into this music.Product Page

A-Minor Karimba Exercises and Songs (eBook)

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

The Hugh Tracey karimba is a modern 17-note version of the karimba, a respected member of the traditional African mbira / kalimba family tree. But this ebook is for a MINOR-TUNED VERSION of this African instrument, resulting in enchanting and mysterious melodies and harmonies. Unique.Product Page

“Yekermo Sew” for G-minor or A-minor Karimba (Download)

You can learn how to do this song on your own karimba! Download the tablature in PDF and KTabS format for “Yekermo Sew,” by Mulatu Astatke, arranged for the Gm or Am karimba.Product Page

The 17-Note African Karimba can be tuned to A African, A Western (major), A minor, G Western (major), or G minor.

&nbsp African A tuning

&nbsp A Western tuning

&nbsp A minor tuning

&nbsp A minor, no buzzers


Purchase + PU

The 17-Note Box Karimba can be tuned to A African, A Western (major), A minor, G Western (major), or G minor.

17-Note Box Karimba in A minor tuning


Purchase + PU

The 15-Note Karimba can be tuned to F or F#.

&nbsp F-15 Karimba

&nbsp F sharp -15 Karimba


Purchase + PU

The Dave Bellinger Nyunga Nyunga (F-15)

This is a high end karimba, or mbira nyunga nyunga, with a very low-noise pickup and adjustable “graphical buzzilizers” – plastic rings on the tines that limit the buzzer’s maximum motion, and by moving the plastic in or out, you can decrease or increase the level of buzzing. The wood, tines and everything about these karimbas are really nice. Like no other karimba you have played.

&nbsp Bellinger Karimba, acoustic

&nbsp Bellinger Karimba, electric

Product Page

The Roots Production Kazula is a 15-Note Karimba or nyunga nyunga, and can be tuned to F or F#.

&nbsp F-15 Tuning


The 8-Note Goshen Box Student Karimba can be tuned to C, A, or G.

&nbsp C tuning


The 9-Note Goshen Student Karimba can be tuned to C, A, or G.

&nbsp G tuning


The 9-Note Zensula Mini-9 can be tuned as a student karimba in Bb or C, as well as to other unrelated tunings.

&nbsp Bb Student Karimba


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