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Mark Holdaway

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings – p1

The method you will learn in this series of tips will help you understand any kalimba’s tuning   All of the specially tuned kalimbas we sell come with a card indicating the note names and note numbers of each tine. The letters are of obvious use – they tell you what note to tune each tine to if any ever go out of tune. But if you have been mystified by the meaning of those numbers, this series of tips will help you learn how to use them. We present to you a laboratory of three different pentatonic kalimba tunings. The numbers guide us on our journey of understanding these kalimbas and

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Learn “Vana Vanogwara” on Karimba – Chiwoniso

Learn the Song Vanavogwara on Karimba In 2013, a legendary figure in African music was suddenly taken from us. Chiwoniso Maraire was a shining light, a great singer and a great player of the mbira nyunga nyunga, also known as the African tuned karimba. Her instrument of choice is of interest to us for two reasons. Andrew Tracey hypothesizes that this is the original mbira first made in southern Africa some 1300 years ago. But Chiwoniso had a more personal connection to this instrument – the mbira nyunga nyunga was the instrument played, and made famous in America, by her father, Dumisani Maraire – or Dumi as his friends knew him. Dumi

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

The Story of the Kalimba

The history of the thumb piano in Africa and how the kalimba got to be a household name Hugh Tracey records an unknown karimba player I just gave a presentation on the kalimba at the OLLI-UA  (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Arizona) in Tucson, and decided to share with you the Powerpoint of the presentation (actually it’s a PDF of the Powerpoint).  A great thing about this 45 page PDF presentation is that it has many clickable links to interesting sound recordings and YouTube videos, which really make the presentation come alive.  One negative is that at a number of places, I made instructions to myself to play a

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

The Kalimbula – An Electric Ceramic Sansula

I’ve been having fun experimenting with tunings again… Kalimbula, by Hands On Drums The Kalimbula is a cool instrument that I’ve been enjoying playing in a variety of tunings.  I have tried all of the canonical sansula tunings, including the C Major I use in this video with new Kalimbula music. The hallmarks of the Sansula are: stunning tone, beautifully squishy tone modulation, and stellar hardware. How does the Kalimbula stand up to the Sansula? The Kalimbula has the exact same Sansula hardware providing its notes.  The tone of the ceramic Kalimbula bodies is somewhat different from the original Sansula, but it has a beautiful tone in its own right. 

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Backing Tracks from Kalimba Magic Videos

You can jam along to these tracks with several different kalimbas Backing Tracks When I make a video of the kalimba, I often feel the kalimba needs support from other instruments, so I add some guitar or bass or rhythm tracks to get some lower sounds in the mix.  I have remixed those support tracks from five of my recent videos.  Most of them have a few seconds of kalimba in the beginning to help you get oriented in the song, and then the kalimba drops out and all that is left is the supporting instruments that should sound really good when you add your own kalimba playing. How do

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Learn the Afroharp Now

This new instructional download takes you from simple to amazing in 46 pages! Catania Decorative Afroharp The Afroharp is a legendary 13-note, two level kalimba created and manufactured for a short period in late 1960s Chicago.  Because we feel that the Afroharp is a valuable and compelling instrument, Kalimba Magic has been selling new instruments in the Afroharp tuning for several months.  Vintage Afroharps are virtually impossible to acquire. I feel incredibly lucky to have recently had one come into my possession. Read on to learn how this vintage Afroharp came to me, what’s special about the Afroharp, how this modern kalimba looks and sounds in a video, and more about

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Great News about Thomas Bothe 2B Kalimbas!

2B/9, 2B/9B, 2B/14, and a 2B/14L are now here! These are the 2B kalimbas that will arrive early in January We’ve been waiting a long time for Thomas Bothe to send us more of his wonderful “2B Kalimbas”, and we have just received a few instruments (January 2016). They are unique in the world, nothing quite like them – check out the video below if you want to know what makes them so special. Thomas Bothe fell ill more than once from breathing the sawdust from paduak wood, out of which his beautiful kalimbas are made. After avoiding it for a while, he has been able to work again, and

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

New Kalimba Magic Tips Series

We are creating a set of Tips to help you find your way on the kalimba We have been making some very valuable tips available, that can help your playing and give you a much richer kalimba experience.  If you have any issues at all with your kalimba – if it has a buzz or it is out of tune, or you are having a hard time learning how to play it – continue reading, and the landing page will link you to the new Tips Series at Kalimba Magic.  In each tip, we will show you exactly what we are talking about, with tablature, photographs, sound recordings or video included.  Many of

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Mahororo – a Shona Mbira Song

Learn to play this traditional Mbira song on Karimba or Alto Kalimba New version features strictly alternating R-L patterns This is my favorite song from the 11 Advanced Traditional Karimba Songs Download. I think you’ll love playing this song as much as I do, and I put together a more accessible version than the original. “Mahororo” could mean “victory”, or it could mean “baboons talking”, depending on who you believe (from Ivodne Galatea’s notes in the instructional download). I recently learned this song, and I shifted the notes down a 5th. I include a video I made of Mahororo “freestyle”, and I am giving away tablature for this song on

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