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Mark Holdaway

Kalimba Spirituality

The kalimba journey can reflect your inner spiritual journey Get the Best Ever 8-Note Book   Kalimba music tends, like the concept of Karma, to be cyclic. With Karma, what goes around, comes around, basically. Our job is to improve on what we put into the world, and what we get back will similarly improve. We can study and practice this our whole lives, and hopefully get better and better in all ways. When we are learning to play some new musical piece, our playing is plagued with stumbles and errors. And since kalimba music is generally cyclic, we will have repeating opportunities to improve on what we are studying.

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Kalimba Spirituality

The kalimba journey can reflect your inner spiritual journey Get the Best Ever 8-Note Book   Kalimba music tends, like the concept of Karma, to be cyclic. With Karma, what goes around, comes around, basically. Our job is to improve on what we put into the world, and what we get back will similarly improve. We can study and practice this our whole lives, and hopefully get better and better in all ways. When we are learning to play some new musical piece, our playing is plagued with stumbles and errors. And since kalimba music is generally cyclic, we will have repeating opportunities to improve on what we are studying.

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Playing the Alto Kalimba – “Kuzanga”!

Free tablature for the mbira song “Kuzanga,” translated to Alto kalimba! Click to download the full PDF tablature for “Kuzanga” on Alto Kalimba “Kuzanga” is a song for the mbira dzavadzimu, or mbira.  I’ve been working on this song for about an hour a day on the mbira now for about six weeks, and even though I have a long way to go, I can still feel myself getting better each day – what a wonderful feeling. I have not yet started to learn this song on the Alto kalimba, but I realized that several of the variations could be played on the Alto. So, I translated the song to Alto

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Playing the Student Karimba

This is the instrument Andrew Tracey calls “The Original Mbira” Get the Student Karimba Book If you are a beginning kalimba player who wants to play western music, the 8-Note kalimba is a great place to start. But if you want to play African music, I would recommend you get the Student karimba. The Student karimba is an 8-note or 9-note instrument that attempts to reconstruct what Andrew Tracey believes was a common instrument over 1000 years ago.  He argues that this instrument gave rise to several other well known traditional instruments, such as the mbira dzavadzimu and the karimba.  As such, there are lots of traditional African songs you

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Playing the 8-Note Kalimba

The 8-Note is a great place to start your kalimba journey Get the Best Ever 8-Note Book When Hugh Tracey recorded and studied every kalimba he could find in southern Africa, he discovered roughly 40% of the kalimbas had the pentatonic scale (5 notes per octave), 40% were hexatonic (6 note), and 20% were like our modern scales, heptatonic (7 note).  The 8-note kalimba, in its standard tuning, actually has only 7 unique notes per octave, and the top note is the same as the bottom note, but is an octave higher. Can you say “Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do”?  It turns out that there is a

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

New Music Tabs for 2B/14 kalimba in “E1 Tuning”

Half the 2B/14 kalimbas we shipped last month were in E1 Tuning – Now there is music for the E1 Tuning Download the 5-page, 60 measure instructional tab in PDF Thomas Bothe is famous for his delightful kalimbas as well as for his unique, individual kalimba tunings.  However, there was one day last month when I was fulfilling orders, and I tuned three 2B/14 kalimbas to the E1 tuning – which is perhaps the classic 2B tuning that most represents Thomas Bothe’s soul.  Simple, delicate, easy, and beautiful. Two of the three customers requested the E1 tuning after they had learned about it from the various 2B tunings I have

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Practice TIP: Progressive Sound Recordings of “Kuzanga” – an mbira song

This electronic recording breaks the song into small pieces and starts slow Learn More About 4-phrase Mbira Music One of the best ways to learn to play is by playing with someone else. If you don’t actually have someone else to who knows the song to play along with, another way is to play along with a recording of the song you are trying to learn. Here we present something new in terms of Kalimba Magic instructional materials – the mbira song “Kuzanga” played progressively – meaning at first very slowly and speeding up gradually to help in learning to play. Also, the song is broken up into sections, which

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Practice TIP: Marking your Mbira

I mark key root notes with different colors – and this works on other instruments too! Archival Practice Tips The mbira dzavadzimu is one of the pinnacles of the traditional African lamellaphones (thumb pianos), and its music is rich and sweet.  I consider the mbira and its music to be the highest intellectual wonder of ancient Africa.  And we can learn to play this venerable music today in our modern world. I have a confession to make: while I easily picked up the kalimba and taught myself to play, I have had a very difficult time with the mbira.  I bought my first mbira more than 15 years ago, and

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Mark Holdaway

Hugh Tracey’s Field Recordings from Africa are Alive and Well at ILAM

The man who created the modern kalimba movement also worked to preserve traditional African music Search the ILAM Music Archive of Hugh Tracey’s Recordings While Hugh Tracey is best known for the Hugh Tracey kalimba, I believe his most important work was the assemblage of 35,000 field recordings he made through the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s of traditional music across sub-Saharan Africa. These recordings captured music across Africa just before much of the traditional music was eclipsed and even erased by modern European influences such as the western scale, choral church music, and western popular music, which were propagated by radio and recordings.  Today, Tracey’s historical recordings are alive and

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