Now The Book: 30 Traditional African Karimba Songs

This 72-page book contains the music to about 30 traditional karimba tunes

Click to purchase 30 Trad. Karimba Book

It is my feeling that “About 30 Traditional Kalimba Songs…” is the most significant kalimba book I have written to date. This book is written from the point of view that the karimba is a living relic; I believe that the kalimbas that were played over a millenium ago had very similar note layouts to the lower half of the two-tiered modern karimba. This means that the music in this collection of wonderful traditional tunes could be very similar to the music that people in Africa played more than 1000 years in the past! When I play these songs, I imagine myself experiencing something of what ancient kalimba players may have thought and felt as they created and played similar music. A unique and magical connection!

Now, don’t you want to get some of that?

If you have a karimba already, you need this book. And if you don’t have a karimba, you might want to consider getting one – that’s how good this book is.

This material came out earlier this year as a download, but now it is available in hard copy as well. I find it well worth it to have a book which lays open and flat as I work through the songs on my karimba.  And you still have access to the MP3 downloads for each of the 33 song recordings.

  There is an example song you can play at the bottom of the page.

A sample page from the book as well as the table of contents for the book are included on the karimba book product page.

I love this music, and I am very excited to be presenting it in this unified form at last! I am especially happy about the detailed discussion of the relationship between two-phrase karimba music and four-phrase mbira music, and how it is all not so dissimilar from typical western harmonies.

Perhaps more important to me personally is that I am finally getting serious about these traditional treasures! I have now learned to play most of them, and the recordings are actually me playing, not the computer! These songs are so beautiful that I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to learn and understand and share them.

Why is it “About 30 Traditional African Songs?” There are 32 tracks. A few songs come in two very different versions. A few songs are new compositions and are not traditional songs. And a few songs are repeated with different chord progressions as a way of illustrating the similarity between African and western harmonies. So I decided that “About 30” is good shorthand for the title.

This assemblage of traditional karimba music has been compiled from a variety of sources. It contains the tunes from my old “10 Traditional Karimba Download” as well as the “11 Advanced Traditional Karimba Download”. Half of the former collection is from Andrew Tracey, and half is from Paul F. Berliner; probably most of these songs were conveyed to them through famed African kalimba teacher Jega Tapera. The latter collection was assembled by Ivodne Galatea, and edited by myself.

In addition to the material from the two old traditional karimba downloads, several songs from the Student Karimba Book have been included here. These songs themselves came from two sources: Hugh Tracey’s original field recordings, and a paper published in 1950 by A. M. Jones, “The Kalimba of the Lala Tribe, Northern Rhodesia”. Jones notates two songs for the kankobela, which is a variation of the African karimba. I am unaware of any earlier examples of specific karimba music notated in tablature or staff, so these may be the first songs ever to have been written down.

Compared to the old Kalimba Magic karimba downloads, this book/download contains songs that are now logically ordered, tablature that is beautifully formatted, and analyses of several important songs that include very detailed discussion about how they are built musically, their cultural roots, or how to play them. Some songs have been updated or otherwise corrected. The bottom line: even if you already own one of the old downloads, it would be worth your while to get this new book.

Here is the tablature for Wa Nchimishawa, which was notated by A.M. Jones in staff notation and published in 1950. I translated it to kalimba tablature. You can hear it played in the media player beneath the tablature below. This is one of the many gems in this download. So happy! So exuberant! So full of pride and confidence!

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