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Mark Holdaway

Still More Grab Bag Kalimbas!

This is the fourth installment of the “Grab Bag.” Over the last 16 years, I have collected way too many kalimbas. Some were, at one point, to be my personal instruments. Some were experiments. Some were just used for a recording or video project. Some were leftover when we stopped carrying that model. And some had defects. Over the next few years, I will be selling off the part of my collection that I don’t personally play. Of course, I will be keeping all of the great many kalimbas that I do play (sorry). If you would like any of these kalimbas, contact me directly. Shipping: add $10 domestic, $19

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

What is the difference between Alto Kalimba, Treble Kalimba, 17-Note Kalimba in C?

For starters, the Alto is bigger and lower, the Treble is smaller, and the 17-Note Kalimbas in C are the same size as the Treble kalimba. In the beginning, there were many traditional types of kalimba, all over Africa. These inspired Hugh Tracey to create the Treble Kalimba, based on several design elements of various traditional instruments. In 1954, Hugh Tracey started selling the 17-Note Treble Kalimba commercially. These kalimbas set the standard for what a “kalimba” is – a modern version of the traditional African instrument. When I asked Hugh’s son, Paul Tracey about it in 2005, he told me that the larger, lower 15-Note Alto kalimba was an

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Lotus Tuning on the M17 and B17 Kalimbas

What is the Lotus tuning about? This exotic tuning has its own music. Its own musical landscape. You don’t try to learn your favorite song on this tuning. You give yourself over to the logic of the lotus tuning. You swim within the oceans this kalimba tuning provides to you for free. Well, not quite for free, because the retuning and setup process takes us about half an hour, and we do charge a small fee for that. But it is worth it – we are experts at rearranging kalimbas, and we will make sure your Lotus-tuned B17 or M17 kalimba is playing at the top of its game.  

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Classical Alto Available as a Download

This collection of 20 well-known classical tunes transcribed for Alto Kalimba has been available as a book for 12 years. Now it is available as a PDF download. The original book did not come with any sound recordings via CD or download. This PDF download has live links to web resident sound files. Click on them, and your web browser will play the song for you to hear how it goes. Once you learn to play the song, you can even play along, Our classical alto ebook includes: New World Symphony (Version 1) Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (Version 1) New World Symphony (Version 2) Brahm’s Lullaby (Version 1) Brahm’s

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Five Practices for your Kalimba Journey

There are many ways to cultivate your kalimba in your life. I find that most people do like a component of mindfulness or spirituality in their kalimba journey. Here are some gems from my practice that I would like to share with you.   Be Present Let your kalimba playing be a channel into “The Now”. Be present to Now by paying attention to the kalimba, the sounds it makes, the logic of the music, or how it makes you feel. In the warble of a simple kalimba note, struck by your thumb, ringing, sustaining, and dying… is a focus for meditation. Learn from the Master Within Pretend your kalimba

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Pop Music on the Kalimba 17/C

Coming soon! Over 100 pages of tablature, tips, and learning exercises for 11 of my favorite kalimba pop songs, 1973 – 2019.   “I’m Blue” by Eiffel 65.   “Senorita”, by Shawn Mendes.

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

The Magadi Kalimba Jam Set

Buy this set of great, innovative kalimbas for under $200. Great workmanship, great sound, different musical tendencies… but all with compatible scales. Improvising A fantastic way to use kalimbas is to improvise on them. Just make stuff up. The kalimba is like a special playing field that is tilted in the direction of success by removing all the “bad” notes. The remain notes define some space of coherent musical possibilities. Your job as an improvisor is to explore what is possible. If you look on YouTube, you will see thousands of people working on learning specific songs. I am actually one of them. But working on specific songs is to

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

New! The Magadi Star-13 Kalimba

The Star-13 Kalimba is a great blend of cool magic tricks and shear capability. Magic tricks? Try the “wah wah” technique, and the very useful note layout. Do you want to just wave your thumbs around and have cool-sounding music pop out as if by magic? CHECK! Do you want to be able to play the tines with precision and have beautiful arrangements come forth through your careful practice and work? CHECK. Heads up  – I don’t have a book for this kalimba YET, but I will have in about a month’s time. You will be able to find the book and other instructional resources for this kalimba here at

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

New! The Magadi M17 Kalimba

The Magadi M17 Kalimba is tuned the same way as the recent flood of Chinese kalimbas. This means it can play all the same music and read the same books and download. But this kalimba has so much more to give! First of all is the sound quality. Each individual note seems to bask in perfection. Every note is equally loud. The high notes ring clear and true, and so far, every single M17 kalimba has been seemingly perfect, on every note. The next thing to notice is the distance between the tines. It is way more spacious than your typical 17-Note kalimba, which means that it is much easier

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