Little Bits of Music – Playing Scales 9

The Upper Octave of the C Scale

A Box Lotus and a Regular Lotus Karimba

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

Do the math. You have a 17-Note kalimba. There are 8 notes in one octave of a scale. For the C Major scale, which starts on the very lowest note on your kalimba, you will be able to get a higher octave version of that scale.

And here it is now!


(By the way, the tablature here is for a 17-Note Kalimba in C, but the concept and even the tablature is the same for many other types of kalimbas.)

The first thing to note, and to file away to ponder another day, is the fact that in this upper ocatve, each note is played on the opposite side when compared to the lower octave. The lower C was in the center, played by the right thumb, and the second note, D, was on the left, played with the left thumb.

In this upper octave, the scale starts on C in the left side, followed by D on the right side of the kalimba. And so on.

Scales 17C 4 2BBut check this out: as you go higher and higher up the kalimba, and the jumps across the center of the kalimba that are required to play the scale get wider and wider, there is a trick that will help you keep your place.

The jumps from left to right get to be as large as 13 tines when you reach the peak of the scale at measure 3. 13 tines is a lot! You cannot possibly just look at the kalimba and think “Oh, I need to skip over 13 tines” – it is too big.

But look at the magenta and cyan arrows representing the motions that your left and right thumbs need to make as you go up the scale. Each thumb need only move over by one tine as you ascend, or descend the scale. So easy! You just need to keep left and right coordinated, inching up and out together, or inching down and inward together.

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