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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

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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

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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

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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

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Using the How-to-Play Pages

Each kalimba we sell has its own How-to-Play page. What can you expect from these pages? Inside the “How-to-Play” category, there are 20 sub-categories.  Several of these are general subjects that are applicable to all kalimbas, such as “Fundamentals of the Kalimba”, “Thumbnail Care”, and “Tuning”.   We also have 13 categories dedicated to information about different kalimbas.  This tip tells you what information you will find on these pages. We have a great series of resource pages for many kalimbas, including the Alto, Treble, Chromatic, 6-Note, 8-Note, 12-Note, Sansulas, Pentatonics, African-tuned Karimba, Student Karimba, SaReGaMa-tuned Karimbas, and more, and you can see all of these in the How to Play pages. While the structure of each instrument’s

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Learn KTabS – Kalimba Tablature Software

KTabS is a powerful Windows program that takes a lot of the guesswork out of writing tablature Writing down music for kalimba can be tricky, and for a newbie to music, overwhelming.  A fabulous alternative to writing out a song by hand on blank tablature involves simply clicking the notes into a tablature template, using Windows software program KTabS (Kalimba Tablature Software). One key advantage of KTabS is that when you click on a tine to add a note, you will immediately hear the note that tine is tuned to, so you know immediately if it is the right note or the wrong note. Similarly, once you have clicked five

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Free Blank Kalimba Tablature

Kalimba Tablature is a powerful way to save your kalimba ideas Tablature is an alternative to staff notation. Kalimba tablature is intuitive and easy to read.  We provide blank tablature PDFs for 8-Note, 11-Note Pentatonic, 15-Note Alto, 17-Note Treble, and 17-Note Karimba.  You can download them for free, print them out, and write notes on them detailing the kalimba riffs you make up.  And if you don’t understand the rules for tablature, we can help with that too! Before we get into the blank tablature, you might want to brush up on the rules of tablature. The tablature is a map of the kalimba’s tines, stretched out from the bottom

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Know your kalimba’s tuning

A kalimba’s “tuning” is the set of notes the tines are tuned to In order to keep your kalimba tuned correctly, you need to know what its notes are supposed to sound like.  An experienced player will know the sound of each note on their kalimba by heart, and will either know which note each tine should be tuned to, or will be able to figure this out quickly.  What if you are not an experienced player? This tip connects you with dozens of possible tunings for a dozen different kalimbas. Your tuning is probably here. The rest – becoming an expert – is up to you!  To maintain the tuning

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Using the 6-Note Songbook on Any Kalimba

If you are having difficulty finding your way around a big kalimba, step back and simplify Left: numbers for “C tuning” songs. Right: numbers for “5-tuning” songs. If you would like to play specific songs on your kalimba but you don’t know where to start, or if you feel you haven’t really connected well with your kalimba, you might want to consider getting the 6-Note Pentatonic Song Book. Here is a remarkable fact: if you have a big kalimba with lots of notes, you may very well be able to use the instructional material from a kalimba with fewer notes, but you need to know which tines map into the

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