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Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p10

Looking at the other notes on the G minor Pentatonic Here is an interesting constellation of facts: when you make a given interval minor, that means you flatten it by a half step.  However, because of the details of where some notes have been removed from the pentatonic scale, when you go from the major pentatonic scale to the minor pentatonic scale, you need to raise the pitch of three notes. Which three notes have to be raised to make the minor pentatonic scale? The three notes that are not the “1” and the “5”! Remember, the “1” and the “5” notes usually define the key.  They are the ones that

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p9

Looking at the other notes on the G Ake Bono Tuning The F7 Bebey and the G minor Pentatonic scales are made up of intervals of two or three half steps (two half steps is a whole step, and three half steps is also known as a minor 3rd).  The Ake Bono tuning is very strange in that it has two intervals that are only a half step, and also one interval between adjacent notes in the scale that is two whole steps. The intervals in this scale are both closer and farther apart than the intervals on the other scales. The Ake Bono scale starts as 1 2 3-, or

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p8

Looking at the other notes on the F7 Bebey Tuning In the previous tip, we stated that the “5” and the “1” form the backbone of the music, and the other notes of the scale provide different spices.  Let’s look at what those spices are. I should note that the way people understand harmonies changes over time and culture.  Early European music listeners in the 13th and 14th centuries perceived the minor 3rd as being happy, and the major 3rd being sad.  Most western listeners today – and I would assert at this point, most global listeners – now hear the minor 3rd as being mysterious or melancholy, while the

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p7

The distinctive relationship between the “5” and the “1” on your kalimba Here is a classic characterization about the “5 – 1” interval. Think, for a moment, about “5” as “Heave!”, and the “1” as the “Ho!” It’s kind of like call and response: the “5” is the call, and the “1” is the response. Once you play the “5” (or say “Heave!”), you are priming the ear for the “1” (or “Ho!”).  You can play the “5” and NOT go to the “1”, but doing that can leave the listener seriously up in the air. To prevent their feeling toyed with, replace that resolution with something that’s worth the surprise –

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p6

More about using the 5th The 5th interval is so important that an entire book could be written on it alone. The attention and time you devote to learning and practicing with it is much more than valuable. Let me hear from you about how you are absorbing and growing with this essential knowledge, which will underscore most of your kalimba endeavors The 5th is such a significant interval that it tends to show up all through the scale, not just between the “1” and the “5”.   If you can learn the other pairs of notes on your kalimba that also make 5th intervals, you can bring all of the power of the

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p5

Learn about how to use the second-most important note, the 5th If the most important note on the kalimba is the root, or “one”, the second most important note on the kalimba is the “5”.  There is really no reason why a kalimba tuning has to have a “5”, but almost every tuning does have a “1” and a “5”.  This is because a “fifth” – the pitch interval between the “1” and the “5” – or also the actual sound made by playing the “1” and “5” together – is a fundamental interval. To get technical for a minute, when two notes are playing a perfect 5th apart from

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p4

Now, find the octave pairs on your kalimba When you picked up a new unknown kalimba, the first thing was to find the root notes.  The second thing – look for and play the scale, from the low root note to the root note an octave higher. This tip informs the third thing to do with your new unknown kalimba: find the octaves. This is generally true, but not universally true:  most kalimba tunings follow a pattern, or scale, and continue with notes from that same scale in an upper octave.  Some instruments don’t have octave intervals, but almost every tuned kalimba I have ever seen does have clear octave

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p3

The next most important thing: find the kalimba’s scale When you pick up a new unknown kalimba, the first thing is to find the root notes.  The root, or “1”, is the starting place for the scale. Once you know where the “1” note is, you need to map out the entire scale. You won’t have the entire “Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do” scale, as some notes will be missing and other notes will be “tweaked” – that is, flattened or minorized. (Yeah, I made that word up.) You can actually learn to do this entirely by ear, but for now we’ll rely upon the tuning charts,

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p2

What is the most important note on the kalimba? Understanding the use of the root note The most important thing you need to figure out when you pick up a new kalimba is:  “where is the One?”  By the “1”, I mean the root of the scale, the key of the kalimba, the note that you consider “home base”, and probably the most important note on the kalimba. (To complicate matters, there are usually multiple correct choices for which note you want to be the root – for example, you choose one note to be the root, and you are in G minor – you choose a different root note,

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