Chill, Listen to the playlist that matches your kalimba key, and jam along!
My life changed when I lost my record turntable 20 years ago – I basically stopped listening to music. For me, this turned out to be a good thing, because the music-generating radio station “KMRK” started broadcasting 24 hours a day inside my head. I am always creating new music, or recycling and recomposing Katy Perry.
But that isn’t the point of this post. Rather, I have discovered Spotify (maybe late to the party, but better late than never!) And I have rediscovered my love of listening to recorded music (as opposed to the stuff that grows like weeds in my cerebral cortex).
I love to hit a big juicy playlist with a kalimba in my hands. The only trouble is, most of the songs in the playlist will not be in the same key as my kalimba. And so I am very familiar with the NEXT SONG button.
I decided to make my own playlists of popular songs that I love to play along with on kalimba. These lists are special in that they are geared to a specific key. If you have a kalimba in that key, just sit down and play along.
Please note: if you are not a Spotify Premium customer, you can still see these songs, and play 30 seconds of each… and I think you can go to each song individually in Spotify. To get the full benefit of the playlist, I believe you need to have Spotify Premium.
I do make it sound simple – just pick up your kalimba and jam to the appropriate playlist. There are, however, two complications to consider.
1) The notes on a G major kalimba also play other modes, such as E minor. It turns out that most modern pop music is in the minor, so you will become familiar with how to play in the minor key on your kalimba. If you don’t know how to make the relative minor, just jump in and figure it out – or see the blog post “Understanding the G, Bb, and D Trebles.”
2) Not all of the songs in the “G Kalimba” playlist are actually in G. Some might be in a closely related key, such as C or A minor. Those closely related keys will have mostly overlapping notes, but you will find that there is one note that isn’t working in a particular song. When you discover such a note, remember that this song requires you to skip over that particular note, in all octaves. And just as you needed to make a different note be the root when shifting to the minor, you will also need to figure out which note is the root note for these rare “out-of-key” songs. Well, you don’t have to, but you will get the most out of your experience if you are able to identify the note on your kalimba that resonates most strongly with the song.
Next month, I’ll write more about the songs in these lists – for example, I will make a lesson out of those oddball songs in closely related keys that have a note you need to avoid, and I’ll spell out which songs are in minors.
So for now, your job is simple: jam along to the music in your favorite kalimba key. Jamming in this way has a number of benefits:
- You are playing along with music that has precise timing – that is, a modern metronome. Playing along will improve your time.
- You will become more confident, playing along with great musicians, and being pretty sure all of your notes are working great.
- You will be able to practice improvising in an environment where the other musicians aren’t going to get impatient with you.
- You may begin to hear the different chords that are used in the song, and you will begin to see where those chords are on the kalimba – or which notes to focus on at different moments in the song.
- You may begin to pick up melodies from the songs, and you will learn to play bits of the melodies.
- You will learn that you don’t have to play all the notes all the time. Let the music support you, take your time, leave space, and when you do play, let your notes count.
- Remember, it isn’t always the kalimba show – while you will have plenty of opportunities to wail and solo and play fast, also learn how to be musically supportive. When the singer is singing, don’t blast her or him with your loudest, coolest riff. It is all about creating the best music you can, so respect the song.
- Take the lessons you learn jamming along with these songs, and apply them when you can to playing kalimba with real live musicians!