The Joys of Playing the Pentatonic Kalimba

There has been so much rush in the direction of the 17-Note Kalimbas in recent years. There are a lot of other kalimba possibilities out there, each offering their own types of experiences.

While any kalimba can be tuned to a pentatonic scale (see Maurice White’s “Evil Tuning”, which is a pentatonicaly tuned 17-Note Treble), you get something altogether different when you make a specially designed pentatonic kalimba. In this video, I feel wild and extremely powerful playing the minor pentatonic scale on this kalimba.

What is the pentatonic scale?


An important thing to know: primitive cultures all around the world used the various pentatonic in their music and on their instruments. Hugh Tracey documented that about 40% of the traditional African lamellophones were tuned to a pentatonic scale. That is the thing, there are actually many different pentatonic scales! So, playing a pentatonic kalimba is a way of getting in touch with the ancients.

The pentatonic scale is more spacious and simpler. If you feel the notes on your kalimba are too close or the instrument is too complicated, you might want to step back to an easier instrument… such as a Pentatonic Kalimba.

Pentatonic Kalimbas are more spacious physically – there is more space between each tine, so it is easier to play the right note. There are way fewer notes, so it is conceptually simpler. And there is (on average) more space between the pitches on the kalimba – so if you feel you are “pitch challenged”, it will be easier to find your way on a pentatonic instrument.

Learn more about the pentatonic kalimbas on the “How to Play Pentatonic Kalimba Page”.  Kalimba Magic has several different pentatonic kalimba models, and two different books for the pentatonic kalimbas.

Now through October 1 2021, save 20% on Hugh Tracey Kalimbas, including the pentatonic kalimbas, with coupon code HughTracey20.

How to Play the Pentatonic Kalimba


Maurice White’s “Evil Tuning” – Using African Sensibilities in Pop Music


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