TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger – 2

The “karimba style” use of the right index finger puts it over the top of a tine, plucking down

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How do you play the kalimba?  Mainly, you use your two thumbs, but you should not overlook the fingers.  It turns out there are multiple ways to use the right index finger, and you can adapt these techniques to a wide variety of kalimbas.

The technique we show here is the “karimba style” use of the right index finger.  The “mbira style” (discussed in the previous tip in this series) used the right index finger coming from below the tine and flicking upward.  The “karimba style” rotates the right index finger counter-clockwise such that it is coming from above one of the upper notes, and then flicking down.

The “karimba technique” is used especially on the karimba, also known as the mbira nyunga nyunga.  On the right side of this instrument, the upper row notes are exactly an octave above their adjacent lower row notes.  The octave is the most fundamental of harmonies, and the fact that it is so transparently reflected in the physical structure of the karimba is essential to our appreciation of the collective African Mind that developed this structure over time. Note how the physical structure of the instrument informs the music that it makes. 

The right index finger is mainly used when playing octave pairs on the right side.

In the video below, go to 0:50 to see the  “karimba style” use of the right index finger.

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