Half the 2B/14 kalimbas we shipped last month were in E1 Tuning – Now there is music for the E1 Tuning
Thomas Bothe is famous for his delightful kalimbas as well as for his unique, individual kalimba tunings. However, there was one day last month when I was fulfilling orders, and I tuned three 2B/14 kalimbas to the E1 tuning – which is perhaps the classic 2B tuning that most represents Thomas Bothe’s soul. Simple, delicate, easy, and beautiful.
Two of the three customers requested the E1 tuning after they had learned about it from the various 2B tunings I have documented online. The third 2B/14 customer just asked for “a special tuning” – and I thought “I’m gonna make this E1 tuning an extra special tuning by writing some extra special music for it!”
Here is the first page of tablature:
When I pick up a 2B kalimba, I actually see it as two complimentary kalimbas in one, the lower tines making one of them, and the upper tines making the other. That is not a function of how the kalimbas were made, but of how they were tuned. Most of Thomas Bothe’s tunings utilize this natural separation, with the upward-bent and straight tines separating out different sub-spaces or chords.
The bent-up tines are represented by gray columns, and the straight tines are represented by white columns in the tab. You can see that the entire left staff of tablature uses only white (straight/lower) tines – which makes a nice little 8-note kalimba, all playing in the E Major 7 chord – sweet and beautiful. Measures 12-15 go back and forth between lower tines and upper tines (the upper tines comprise an F# minor 7 chord – but you don’t really need to know that, only that the upper tines are their own thing).
The media player below will play the MP3 file that goes with the above tablature, and each repeated section is played twice. The early part is intentionally simple, but if you are interested, jump forward to 1:00 and listen through to 2:00 – then try to stick through the octave exercises, which are only annoying for 10 seconds before they turn beautiful and stay that way through to the end. The more beautiful music requires jumping back and forth between the low and high notes, which is more challenging than what the two previous paragraphs suggest – but it is worth it!