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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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Blog
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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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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