Articles tagged with: Alternative Tuning

18 November 2017

The Hitzaskiar Persian Scale

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This exotic scale sounds "WOW" on the Alto Kalimba

The Hitzaskiar Persian Scale

I remember being 8 years old, getting to stay up late to watch "Lawrence of Arabia" on TV. Even as I drowsed, I found myself listening attentively to its dazzling music.

How grand! The music's sumptuous scales sounded ethnic and different. It was moving and magical. Did the composer actually understand middle-eastern music and scales? Or was he just "making it up"? Probably both.

The cool thing about the kalimba is that you can just "make it up." Here, I have made up the "Hitzaskiar" tuning for the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba. The Hitzaskiar is an actual ancient scale from Persia, but how many times has it been played on the Alto Kalimba? At least once (!)

16 June 2016

Kalimbas for Accessibility

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Scales and Chords for One-Sided 8-Note Kalimbas

Kalimbas for Accessibility

I have known several people who only have the use of one hand, and two of them play kalimba. Kalimba Magic offers a special one-sided kalimba, either in a left handed or a right handed setup.

It seems you would need both the left and right hands to simulate the full kalimba experience. The theory is that the kalimba evolved from huge log xylophones, made from actual logs, which were played by at least two people, one on each side, playing interweaving parts. The kalimba plays those same two parts, but the two players who used to play on opposite sides of the xylophone, are both now sitting inside the player's head.

Yes, left and right hands playing interlocking parts is fundamental to the traditional, two-sided kalimba, but it is most definitely possible to play one handed kalimba and sound good. When you play the one-sided kalimba, you are playing something set up very differently from the two-sided type. The notes are laid out in a linear setup and are played using different rules.

 

26 May 2016

Words About Maurice White's Kalimba Playing

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

And how you can get a kalimba like Maurice White's

Words About Maurice White's Kalimba Playing

A lot of people who play kalimba were first exposed to the instrument when Maurice White of the band Earth, Wind and Fire pierced their hearts with its sound so many years ago, first beginning in the 1970s .

While I did always like hearing Earth, Wind and Fire on the radio, I never even knew Maurice White played kalimba until after I started Kalimba Magic and people started pointing out the sorts of things I would need to know to stay in business.

Now I'm making up for lost time.

31 May 2016

How Maurice White's Kalimba Playing Touched My Life

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Joe Hernandez is learning to play all of Maurice's kalimba parts

How Maurice White's Kalimba Playing Touched My Life

There are probably tens of thousands of kalimba players around the world who first learned about the kalimba from Maurice White. One of them is Joe Hernandez:

"I saw Maurice White play in 1988 in Kansas City, the first time I had ever actually seen a kalimba. I was amazed and wish I had attempted to find one and start playing back then. Thanks to Kalimba Magic, I finally got my own kalimba and I love it. Too bad it took me over 30 years to discover where to get one."

But wait till you see what Joe is doing with his kalimbas.

23 May 2016

New Tunings for the Lotus Karimba - One You Can Do Yourself!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The C Major Lotus Tuning is one you can do. The Em/Am Lotus Tuning is one for us to do.

New Tunings for the Lotus Karimba - One You Can Do Yourself!

Yesterday, two sansula players came to Kalimba Magic headquarters with their sansulas, both of which were in standard A minor tuning. They had grown tired of the enchantingly beautiful standard A minor tuning and wanted to play different music. After trying several tunings, they both decided to go for the Heavenly A tuning. They left happy, and the new tuning has opened many new pathways for them to explore.

Why am I telling you this in an article about Lotus Karimba tunings? Because the standard Lotus tuning (which is equally good for playing in G minor or C minor) itself can become boring if you are trapped in the same old patterns, and a new Lotus tuning may be exactly what you need to break out of the doldrums.

26 April 2016

Fantastic New Instructional Download for the Sansula

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The C Major Sansula Tuning has always been beautiful - and now it is accessible!

Fantastic New Instructional Download for the Sansula

Kalimba Magic sansulas are normally sold in the A Minor tuning, which produces music of an enchanting, mystical and melancholy nature. I created the C Major sansula tuning in 2011 in response to a customer’s request for a sansula in C.  I love this tuning; it is simply happy and positive, potentially majestic and even euphoric. I am often struck by how easy it is for the C Major sansula to produce music of great simplicity and beauty. If something gorgeous happens in the midst of my time spent with it, I take careful notes (whenever i come up for air!).

The C Major sansula book, a downloadable PDF, covers some of what this delightful instrument can do. With 48 pages and 32 original compositions and exercises written just for this tuning, this book gives you enough material to occupy you for many months as you improve your sansula skills. Included among these compositions are the two YouTube videos I have made with the C Major tuned sansula and the C Major tuned kalimbula.

 

08 April 2016

A New Pentatonic Tuning from 1970's Africa: F7 Bebey

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Francis Bebey used this tuning in his song "Breaths" - what a great tuning!

A New Pentatonic Tuning from 1970's Africa: F7 Bebey

Someone called a few months back. His wife had recently died, and he was working on healing from that great loss. He had played mbira dzavadzimu in the past - and since the mbira is all about helping us to connect with the ancestral spirits, I figured he wanted some help with that.

But instead of being drawn to mbira music, this man was drawn to the song "Breaths", written by Francis Bebey, with lyrics focusing on how our ancestors live on in the physical world around us. For a bit of background, Francis Bebey was a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and kalimba player from Cameroon. Remember, Cameroon is close to the original birthplace of the kalimba - Gerhard Kubik (Austrian ethnologist famous for his African music study and collections) asserts that bamboo-type kalimbas originated there about 3000 years ago, and they are still made there today.

The bereaved caller wanted to learn to play "Breaths", and the first thing he needed was to know which kalimba it could be played on and in what tuning. So I began some research to give him an answer.

With detailed listening, I discovered that Francis Bebey used a simple pentatonic scale, but it was one that I had not encountered before. And upon jamming with this tuning, I immediately decided to share it with the world, because it really is cool and African and funky. Watch the video "Floaty Kalimba" and see if you're not won over!