The Definitive Collection of Traditional African Karimba Music

This 74-page PDF download has the music to about 30 traditional tunes

Click to purchase 30 Trad. Karimba Download

This is one of the books I’ve been wanting to write for around five years, and now, with much-appreciated contributions from Ivodne Galatea, I am proud to present this collection of tunes for the African-tuned karimba.

This book is written from the point of view that the karimba is a living relic; I believe that instruments were played over 1000 years ago that had very similar note layouts to the lower half of the modern karimba . This means that the music in this collection could be very similar to the music that people in Africa played more than a millenium in the past. Now, don’t you want to get some of that?


  There is an example song at the bottom of the 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 play only one or two variations of most of these songs, so I still have a lot to learn. 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 thought it best to hedge on the exact number. 

This traditional karimba download has been assembled from several sources. It contains the tunes from the 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.

Compared to the old Kalimba Magic karimba downloads, this one contains songs that are now logically ordered, tablature that is beautifully formatted, and several songs that include information on how to play them, how they are constructed, or where they are from. Some songs have been updated or otherwise corrected. That is, even if you already bought one of the old downloads, it is probably worth your while to get this new download.

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 to have been written down.

Here is the tablature for Wa Nchimishawa, notated by A.M. Jones in staff notation and published in 1950. I translated to the kalimba tablature. You can hear it played in the media player 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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