Blog

Blog
Mark Holdaway

Exploring Pentatonic Tunings

Pentatonic tunings are culturally and musically important. We present new kalimba video of three different tunings for the pentatonic kalimba The coupon code PENTA30 gets you 30% off the box pentatonic Aboriginal peoples all across the globe have used pentatonic scales in their music.  One of Hugh Tracey’s fundamental findings was that about 40% of all the kalimbas he documented in his expeditions across Africa were tuned to pentatonic scales. Find out what makes the pentatonic scales so essential! A pentatonic scale is any scale that has five unique notes per octave. (Most other scales have seven unique notes per octave.) On average, the notes in the pentatonic scale are

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

Interview: Andrew Tracey

This 2008 interview of Andrew Tracey, accomplished kalimba scholar and master of karimba, mbira and kalimba, illuminates the genealogy of African lamellaphones and the history of the Hugh Tracey kalimba These are the 2B kalimbas that will arrive early in January During my 2008 visit to his Grahamstown, South Africa home, Andrew Tracey (Hugh Tracey’s older son), long-practicing ethnomusicologist and musical performer, shared recollections of his father’s work, the early Hugh Tracey kalimbas, the layout of the Hugh Tracey kalimba, and his ethnomusicological research showing the karimba to have the prototypical tuning that was passed down to subsequent instruments such as the mbira dzavadzimu. We are featuring this article once

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

Interview: Thomas Bothe and his 2B Kalimbas

This archival 2010 interview sheds some light on a remarkable kalimba maker These are the 2B kalimbas that will arrive early in January The “2B Kalimbas” made by Thomas Bothe are very high quality instruments, and, clearly, labors of love. The care and attention to every detail that is evident in the workmanship of these instruments made me very curious about their creator. I was quite pleased that Thomas was able to spend a little time telling me about himself and his work.     KM: Thomas, how long have you been working with wood, and how long have you been making kalimbas? TB: I started making kalimbas in 1993,

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

Free Tablature – Learn “Carol of the Bells”

Free PDF and KTabS Tablature for Alto, Treble, B flat Treble, and Chromatic Kalimbas “Carol of the Bells” is not only a beautiful song that is great to learn on the kalimba, it is also a strategic stronghold of kalimba technique. The basic music consists of two different parts played at the same time, which in this case is not that hard. If you can learn this song, you will be entering the marvelous world of playing two voices of music at the same time on kalimba. Not up for heavy lifting? Please enjoy the video of me performing “Carol of the Bells” on the Alto Kalimba. “Carol of the

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: On Practicing Kalimba

You can learn an instrument with modest daily work – but do pick it up every day The kalimba is one of those amazing instruments that magically sounds good even if you don’t know what you are doing, often right out of the box.  However, if you practice, you can become really good at playing.  I have compiled some thoughts on my experience of practicing on the kalimba with the idea of helping you with your kalimba journey. If you are going to “get good” on the kalimba, you should try to play it a bit every day. Do it for 15 minutes a day. Once in a while, you will probably

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

A geometrical approach to Sansula Note Layouts

Sansulas come in many different tunings, which can be somewhat confusing – but here is a way I found to understand the basic shape of all of those tunings This “pitch helix” illustrates how I think of most of the sansulas I have. The Hokema Sansula and the Hands on Drums Kalimbula come in the standard A minor tuning or in any of the alternative tunings. We present a few purely geometrical ways of thinking about the Sansula tunings. We also introduce a new alternative Sansula tuning based on my favorite Thomas Bothe tuning. One of the features of the Sansula is that whatever you play on it, it sounds

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Tuning Your Kalimba

Everything you need to keep your kalimba in tune Many people purchase kalimbas without realizing that they need to keep the kalimbas in tune.   Most kalimbas that are played daily will slowly go out of tune over a month or two, and then you need to touch up on the tuning. This article hooks you up with all the resources you need to learn how to keep your kalimba in tune – just the way I do! Many people purchase kalimbas without realizing that they need to keep the kalimbas in tune. Most kalimbas that are played daily will slowly go out of tune over a month or two, and

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

Return of The Afroharp

This clever 1970s kalimba is back – or at least its note arrangement is back, on a Catania body The 13 notes of the Afroharp transplanted on a decorative Catania body. The Afroharp, one of the more interesting early Hugh Tracey kalimba competitors, hasn’t been manufactured since the 1970s. I have brought it back, putting its 13 notes onto a Catania body. OK, this isn’t a real Afroharp, but the notes are the same as the Afroharp. This is a pretty interesting note arrangement, borrowing from the pentatonic kalimba tunings as well as from the karimba layout. It plays its own music. I have made a demo video to show

Read More »
Blog
Mark Holdaway

“First Look Inside” – Tablature for Alto Kalimba

You can download the tablature for this Hit Youtube Kalimba song for free! Click to download “First Look Inside” tablature PDF You can get free tablature for the song “First Look Inside”, performed on the Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba by Mark Holdaway. With over 1 million views, “First Look Inside” qualifies as my first YouTube Hit, and hundreds of people have asked for the tablature to this song. It is part of the “Advanced Alto Download”, but it is also available for free in this blog article, in both PDF and KTabS formats. I remember being in Boulder, Colorado back in the mid 1990s – it was a cold but

Read More »

Search Blog

SUBSCRIBE AND GET A FREE EBOOK

Sign up for our newsletter and free resources with your email address:

We pinky promise not to spam you and to only send good stuff.

Recent posts

ASK DR. KALIMBA

Get an expert answer to your kalimba question!

MOST POPULAR

FEATURED PRODUCTS