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Mark Holdaway

Easter Hymns for the 17-Note Kalimba in C

Beautiful hymns on the kalimba – what more can I say? Heaven! To me, holidays have always been, at their core, about music. The music pervades the essence of the celebration and the ceremony. The music deepens our experience of the numinous moment. And it gives you a great gift that you can bestow on any around you when you can create such beautiful and moving music. That is why I study Christmas carols, and that is also why I learn Easter hymns. This book of Easter hymns is excellent for beginning kalimba players as well as those with more skill, because each of the 12 songs here has both

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

What About the “D Treble Kalimba”? What Book does it use?

  The short answer: the D Treble Kalimba, modified from the Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba, is modeled after the Alto Kalimba, and it “reads” Alto Tablature. Get an Alto Book or Download, and it will work for this kalimba. What do you notice about the kalimba above? The richly grained kiaat wood is an exceptional example of the Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba. It has a 1/4 inch jack and a pickup. And look at the painted tines – the far left and right tines are painted, and three unpainted tines congregate at the low central tines… and one of those tines has a dot on it! Why? Whats up with

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

The Olive-9 Book / eBook is Here!

Video of “Awesome Jig”, the final song in the Olive-9 Booklet. The Olive-9 Kalimba, made by Magadi in China, was new to us earlier this month. Now, I am happy to announce that there is a 36-page booklet with sound recordings that will help you find your way with this amazing cool and economical kalimba. Most of the book is on the introductory level, but the video above is a jig I wrote for the Olive-9 that really highlights how it can dance in your hands. A truly rousing tune that gets my wife dancing! We will include this booklet with every Olive-9 we sell. If you bought the Olivie-9

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

New! The Mufrika Edward Style Karimba

I am rebuilding some Hugh Tracey Kalimbas in the layout of Mufrika Edward’s karimba. Mufrika Edward is a Zambian karimba player whose music can be found on Facebook. These rebuilt Hugh Tracey karimbas are 14-Note instruments in F#. The lower row of 8 notes is basically the same as the mbira nyunga nyunga, or the student karimba. The upper row notes are arranged differently from the nyunga, and that is where this instrument shines with delight. With this karimba, set up like Mufrika’s own hand made instruments, you can watch Mufrika’s music videos and play along, note for note. By the way, I understand that Mufrika Edward is making his

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

How Low Can You Go? Alto Kalimbas in G, F, E… even low C!

As each kalimba is tuned to a lower pitch, the low tines are closer to the sound hole. The standard tuning for the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba is G major (the far left kalimba above). This is G below Middle C. For reference sake: the new crop of 17-Note kalimbas in C (not shown above) have a low note of Middle C. My old Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba (I bought it around 1988) came in standard G. Around 2010 I tuned it down to F, and in 2019 I further tuned it down to E. I accomplished this retuning by pulling the tines further out and making the vibrating length

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Kalimba Pratcice Tips from the Alto Fundamentals Download

We are looking for a spirit that transcends paper and ink. These kalimba practice tips are from my old 2006 book “Kalimba Fundamentals for the Alto Kalimba.” I recently upgraded it to also be available as a PDF download. I play a dozen different musical instruments, and playing the kalimba is quite different from any other. The kalimba stretches your mind in two directions at once! These tips will help you get the most out of your kalimba practice, no matter what kalimba you play. * Try walking while playing. If you do, always try to walk in time with the beat of the music. Let your walk be a

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Available as a Download: Alto Fundamentals, Our First Book from 2006

People ordering our books internationally have run into problems with expensive postal fees. The answer? Don’t buy a kalimba book, but purchase an instructional download. It costs less, you don’t pay for shipping, and you can click to get the sound recording to hear how the song goes. The Alto Fundamentals eBook is a good introductory PDF eBook for the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba – 34 pages with tablature, photos and live links to MP3 files. When I learned how to play kalimba 35 years ago, there were no books.  16 years ago, this was the very first kalimba book I wrote that uses kalimba tablature. You can learn more

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

What Makes a Great Kalimba Tuning?

Each new kalimba tuning is a different universe of possibilities. Some of those alternative musical universes are very similar to one another. But some tunings present totally different music unlike what the other tunings can play. A few times, I have imagined a tuning, and then gone and fiddled with my kalimba until it played what I imagined. But most great tunings are discovered rather than invented. By this, I mean that maybe you came up with that tuning by accident, and then you discover what that tuning can do! The B11 Kalimba is a great platform for new alternative tunings. This video focuses on the lessons taught by four

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

African Karimba Songs on the 17-Note Kalimba in C

The PDF eBook “33  Intermediate Songs for 17-Note Kalimba in C” has a bunch of African music. For example, Bustu MTandari: These are mostly songs from the tradition of the Karimba, or mbira nyunga nyunga. The notes of the Karimba are a subset of the notes on the 17-Note Kalimba, so anything you can play on the Karimba can also be played on the 17-Note in C. And by the way, “kalimba” and “karimba” are two different instruments. Read here if you don’t know this: Is it Kalimba, Karimba, or Mbira? It turns out the traditional African music, when played on the typical modern kalimba, is actually a bit tricky

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