12 December 2016

“Kalimba” The Movie

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

AZPM video program about kalimbas, Mark, and Kalimba Magic. And a challenge!

Kalimbas are an exotic and intriguing musical experience to many, and recently Arizona Public Media (AZPM) created “Kalimba,” which was broadcast on their weekly TV magazine Arizona Illustrated.  “Kalimba” features the kalimba and Mark Holdaway, founder and owner of Kalimba Magic in Tucson, Arizona. This quick tour gives a brief overview of Mark's kalimba universe and the history and sound of this diverse family of instruments known as “lamellophones,” with excellent depictions of many fascinating modern and ancient kalimbas and their cousins.


“Kalimba” tells how Mark and the kalimba became inseparable over decades and about the founding of Kalimba Magic, one of the only existing resources in the world for this instrument, whose website teaches about and sells high quality kalimbas from around the world and offers kalimba players and enthusiasts a community in which to participate. “Kalimba” reveals some of the ethnomusicological roots and cultural history of this originally African instrument, and that Hugh Tracey brought it to the rest of the world. You can also hear the varied sounds of this enchanting group of instruments, including a performance by Mark’s Afro-Latin band, Baba Marimba, that features Mark on kalimba.

If I were to make the complete feature-length movie about lamellophones, in that dramatic cliffhanger I would be compelled to tell of the kalimba’s African origins, and that the kalimba is a relative/descendant of the ancient instrument, the mbira dzavadzimu, and that mbira music is traditionally passed from individual to individual. I’d show how Hugh Tracey’s lifelong devotion to recording and studying traditional African lamellophone music was instrumental in bringing the kalimba to the world. This movie would have the thrilling conclusion that all kinds of music can be played on kalimba and that now, after years of playing, study and work, I would talk about my conceiving of, and the importance of kalimba tablature, would make it clear that there is lots of kalimba music available in book form. And I would use the AZPM “Kalimba” video as the trailer for this imaginary feature film.

I’d like to present a challenge to alert kalimba aficionados. In “Kalimba,” several instruments are shown in the opening 30 seconds. I am offering a free kalimba to the first entrant who names or properly describes the highest number of instruments in this group of commercial and non-commercial models of kalimba. Please submit your entry by 15 January, 2017.  If nobody gets every kalimba, we'll take the entry with the most correctly named kalimbas. Good luck!

The 7-minute video, "Kalimba," is playing in the background or you can see it by clicking below. Thanks to AZPM, especially Dan Kruse and Bob Lindberg, for making "Kalimba"!

About the Author

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway has been playing kalimba for over 30 years.  He invented his kalimba tablature in 2004, and has been writing books and instructional materials for kalimba ever since.  His business, Kalimba Magic, is based on the simple proposition that the kalimba is a real musical instrument capable of greatness.  Mark's kalimba books are a down payment on this proposition.