This “mixolydian pentatonic” scale, derived from Francis Bebey’s 1970s tuning, makes cool groovy music!
For decades, I knew about the major pentatonic scale and the minor pentatonic scale. They were actually the same scale, just starting at different points in the scale.
Kalimba has taught me that there are actually a whole bunch of pentatonic scales. A “pentataonic scale” is any scale that has five different notes per octave. The first pentatonic scales we learn about are the black notes on a piano. They come in groups of 2 (between C, D, and E) and then in groups of 3 (between F, G, A and B). Then you repeat in the next higher octave.
You can see from the below chart that the mixolydian pentatonic scale – AKA, the Blood Moon Tuning – is very similar to the major pentatonic scale, but instead of a major 6, it has a minor 7 – in other words, just the very first hint of minor-ness. This translates into a scale that it pretty “happy-go-lucky”, but it also has the teeth to make its attitude known. I love this scale.
I would never have known about this tuning had it not been for Francis Bebey, a rock star in Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. He brought traditional kalimba into his popular music. As far as I could tell, each of his songs had a different tuning. Or said another way, each kalimba tuning has its own song. But really it is much broader than that – each kalimba tuning has its own UNIVERSE of music that can be played on it. It is our job to find nice universes of music and seek out the beautiful songs that grow there.
Well… that is my job. You can come along for the ride if you like!
Here is another kalimba that is tuned just like Francis Bebey’s original tuning. The low notes is the 3rd of the scale:
Here are more exotic tunings for the Moon-10 Kalimba: