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Mark Holdaway

Why is Kalimba Tablature Better Than Numbers-Based?

Kalimba Tablature can Express Essentially Any Music, and it isn’t that hard Learn More About Tablature   I get a lot of requests for numbers-based instruction from people who cannot read music. While I have created numbers-based materials, they are very limiting. The world of possibilities is huge, deep and broad, and the numbers-based instructional materials can only touch the surface. In order to achieve kalimba greatness, I suggest you move over to the graphical Kalimba Tablature. To see some of the advantages to this approach, read on, dear reader!   Many people believe they cannot handle reading music. I understand this. But they tend to also believe they need

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Mark Holdaway

New: The Moon-10 Kalimba

This is one fun and relaxing kalimba to play Get Your Moon-10 Kalimba Today!   This is a new kalimba from China. It almost didn’t make it, as the factory where it is made in China was shut down for a few months over the Covid-19 crisis. But here they are now! The standard tuning is a C major / A minor pentatonic scale. The resonant body with goat-skin membrane makes a great wah-wah effect. The two rows of tines make for an easy division of the notes. This is a fantastic instrument for improvisation. Each Moon-10 Kalimba comes with a soft form-fitting padded case and a 24-page instructional manual,

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Mark Holdaway

Why Do Some Kalimbas have Upward-bent tines?

Basically, it is a genius design some unknown African came up with about 800 years ago Learn More About Kalimba History   People ask me all the time: “Why do some kalimbas have some upward-bent tines?” The short answers: it is a design element in many traditional African kalimbas, permitting two interleaved rows of tines, one with shorter tines and the other with longer tines. This not only makes the instrument physically easier to play, but also suggests a host of harmonies and musical motifs that otherwise would be difficult to play.   By the way, I generally call the instruments with two rows of tines “karimba” instead of “kalimba”. 

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Mark Holdaway

Kalimba Magic is 15 Years Old

Happy Birthday! How would YOU like to celebrate? With 25% off everything? How the Kalimba Came into My Life   I remember the embarrassment shooting across my face like it was yesterday – about 20 years ago, I was playing kalimba on a bus. A certain man was listening intently, and we spoke a bit after I finished playing… and then he told me: “I bet you don’t make as much as a single solitary QUARTER playing that silly little instrument!” I never saw him again, but if I did, I would tell him that for the last 15 years, I have made my entire living from the kalimba. The

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Mark Holdaway

The eight-fold Path to Kalimba Happiness

These eight steps should keep your kalimba sounding happy for many years Schedule a Visit to the Kalimba Doctor   Customer Samuel asks: “What are the most important things for me to know about keeping my kalimba happy?” I think the most important thing is to not mistreat your kalimba. Don’t drop your kalimba on the ground. Don’t put things on top of your kalimba. Don’t sit on your kalimba. Don’t leave your kalimba in a hot car. Don’t spill juice or soda on your kalimba, and don’t let your kalimba get wet. But what else do you need to know about keeping your kalimba happy?   I have an

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Mark Holdaway

Sansulas, the Most Magical-Sounding Kalimbas

With only 9 notes, the Sansula seems underpowered. But the real strength of the Sansula lies in its simplicity and its beauty. It is very easy to make absolutely enchanting music with the Sansula, because of the high German engineering standards of the instrument and its materials, because of the simple and intuitive tuning, and because of the mind-blowing special effects.   When you play the Sansula, you don’t really need to worry about which notes you are playing – you just twiddle your thumbs and out comes enchanting, mystical music. The flip side of this: if you try to make your Sansula play a song you know such as

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Mark Holdaway

Stango and Nongoma – Music from Zimbabwe

If you have an F-15 Karimba (Nyunga Nyunga) you can play along with them Visit Stango and Nongoma’s Facebook page   In 1960, Andrew Tracey discovered the karimba player Jega Tapera in the township surrounding Bullawayo (then Rhodesia). Jega Tapera taught Dumisani Maraire to play karimba… which he renamed mbira nyunga nyunga. And Dumisani taught his daughter Chiwoniso to play mbira nyunga nyunga. Jega, Dumi, and Chiwoniso are all gone. But now, there is Stango and Nongoma! If you are looking for inspiration for your karimba or nyunga nyunga playing, check out their music! A rare fusion of guitar and mbira nyunga nyunga, this music is so beautiful! Stango’s guitar

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Mark Holdaway

Tablature for Payphone on the 17-Note C Kalimba

This is a great song to play on the kalimba Click to download the tablature PDF for Payphone   I long thought that the best music was created in the 1960s, and some in the 1970s. However, I am now of the belief that the pop music of the last 10 years is as good as its ever been. So I am starting to learn some of these modern pop songs on kalimba, and you, dear reader, will be the beneficiary of these pop songs. Enjoy this arrangement of the Maroon 5 song “Payphone”. Click on image to download the tablature PDF. We are doing things a bit different here.

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Mark Holdaway

The Kalimba Doctors

Do you have a tired old kalimba that doesn’t ring true? We can help Visit the Kalimba Doctor   The most important thing you can do to keep your kalimba sounding good is to keep it in tune. The second most important thing you can do is to fix any buzzing tines. We give you the resources you need to do these kalimba maintenance items yourself – click through to see the links. If you are unable to accomplish the tuning and fixing yourself, let me introduce you to The Kalimba Doctors: Mark Holdaway, and Mike Ankomeus. Together, we will do our best to improve your old kalimba in about

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