11 June 2018
An Interesting Kalimba Purchase Strategy
Buy the Download First
I have a few customers who purchase mainly downloads from Kalimba Magic. One wants to get the music because he is interested in using it in his video work. Another just likes to hear what new music is available for the kalimba. But there is a growing group of people who see the downloads as a collection of music that is representative of what a particular kalimba style or tuning has to offer.
As such, the download is a key that opens some of the secrets that the kalimba has to offer.
Several first-time customers purchase one or more instructional downloads first. A few days later, they purchase a kalimba. I have learned that if they liked the download's music and its approach, they came back and bought the kalimba that the download was written for. I have seen a few customers purchase downloads for four, five, or six different kalimbas before they chose an instrument to purchase.
At $5 to $10 each, the downloads aren't exactly free. Yet buying even six downloads is much less expensive, in the long term, than buying a kalimba that you end up not using or not enjoying because its natural music is not the music that will really please you. In the download you can see the kind of music that is best for this specific kalimba form, you can see how it is taught, and you can actually hear the songs played too. It is a preview worth its weight in gold
Now, please bear with me for a little while as I talk about the process whereby a new book or download is created:
I have been a serious kalimba player for 32 years this month, and I've been playing around with different tunings and kalimba note layouts for 17 years. With this much experience on a wide variety of kalimbas, I can pick up a new kalimba layout or kalimba tuning, fiddle with it for a few minutes, and grasp a significant portion of what it is about and what music can be done on it. My brain is just built that way now
If I decide to create a book about an instrument with a new layout or tuning, and I take this kalimba on my daily morning "kalimba / physical health / mental health" walk for a week, I can come up with enough music to play on that kalimba to fill a book
It might take me two or three weeks to write out that music and to lay out that book, and inevitably I will decide some pieces of music are a bit lame, while other sexy new riffs or songs will find their way into the book.
It then takes me about a week to record the music in the book so each song in the new book can be heard. Inevitably, toward the end of the book, it becomes evident that it’s going to take more time than I really can spare to record every song. That is when I use the assistance of my computer and KTabS (Kalimba Tablature Software) to produce recordings that take the place of me playing. They are not perfect, but they get the job done. As I record, I inevitably rewrite some of the pieces to make them more playable, and then I have to go back and change the tablature in the book.
The downloads in their current form are quite an upgrade from their previous incarnation. The old downloads are just a zip file with a collection of 20 to 66 different songs in tablature (PDF; usually accompanied by MP3 sound files) and a AAA_README.txt file to give you an idea of how to tackle the mass of music you have just downloaded.
By contrast, the new instructional downloads are really quite advanced. I spend the time in layout and design to create an entire book, 40 - 100 pages long, which is then thoughtfully edited for maximum clarity and understandability. Each exercise or song has between a few sentences and a few paragraphs explaining how I suggest you approach the song, or what the song means, or some special feature of the exercise that will be useful to learn for some upcoming song.
And most important - the download has live links, so you never have to worry about a CD again (a major improvement over the hard copy books). You just click on a song title (or the tablature itself in the newest downloads) and your web browser will be driven to download and play the sound file that goes with the tablature.
So, that is what my process is about. To put all those words and music into a little bottle - it takes me about 100 hours to create a new kalimba book or instructional download. And a lot of love goes into each one of these downloads.
Were you to fall in love with the music of a particular kalimba or tuning or layout, and you acquired the download for it, and then the actual kalimba, you would not breeze through the book in a few days. If you want to become a really fluid player on the material in that download, you would spend a good deal of time on it. You might find enough gold in that book or download to last you weeks or months or even more than a year. When I create instructional materials, that is my goal: to give you a compass that will guide you for a very long time.
So the downloads clearly can have multiple uses. As electronic documents they take up no physical space; they can give you a great inside look at what a kalimba can do, and as an educational tool they are comprehensive, full of tips and information and playing instruction for the particular kalimba in which you are interested. You can hear the songs they teach from the online MP3’s that are part of the download. You can take them anywhere your electronic devices go and they are formatted to show perfectly on those devices as well as your desktop computer.
The below download list is not exhaustive - we have lots more "primitive downloads" of the ZIP file variety. But this is the current list of our edited-book-level downloads - just a single PDF that organizes all of the songs, exercises, and instruction, and has live links to each sound file
The media player in each of the download descriptions below plays one representative song from that particular download.
The video below is for the final song in the Freygish Karimba download. Yes, it took me three weeks of daily work - about 40 minutes a day - to get this piece to performance level, but it was certainly worth it. Does every download have music of this caliber? No, but this exemplifies what I am aiming for.