Articles tagged with: Alternative Tunings

24 June 2017

How the B flat Treble Kalimba Got Its Stripes

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A "Just So" Story, with thanks to Rudyard Kipling

How the B flat Treble Kalimba Got Its Stripes

My very first kalimba was a Treble. I had actually just come from a friend's house who had an Alto, and we'd all played the Alto and loved it - but when I went to the drum shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts back in 1986, they only had the Treble, with the 3rd note of the scale in the lowest tine (and not the root note, as in Altos). I bought it, but somehow I never really bonded with the instrument. A few years later, I got an Alto kalimba, and it was like day and night! I understood the Alto, with the root note as the lowest tine, and its range of exactly two octaves. (That is, the lowest note was "Do" of "Do Re Mi", and the highest note was also "Do", two octaves up.) With the Alto kalimba now in hand, my Treble was set aside. It eventually went to live with a friend, while I developed my long love affair with the Alto kalimba.

29 November 2016

Cool Ethnic Tunings for the B11 Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

From Persian to celestial, each of these alternative tunings offers a totally different spin on this great kalimba

Cool Ethnic Tunings for the B11 Kalimba

The reports on the new Hokema B11 Kalimba are all coming in glowing - people love this kalimba.  Of course, everyone loves the sterling workmanship, ease of playing, and incredible sound of the huge Hokema hit, the Sansula, but the musical possibilities and adaptability of Hokema's latest, the B11, really exceed that of the Sansula by leaps and bounds, and the B11 carries the same quality and has a gorgeous sound too.

I have just developed five cool new tunings for the B11, and would love to share them with you!  In addition to this post's tuning charts for all the tunings, you can also listen to demo recordings of each so you can hear how each individual tuning sounds, and easily compare them.

03 August 2016

2B/9 Kalimbas Available in Sansula Tunings

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

Instructional books and downloads are available for: Standard A minor, Heavenly A, Beautiful E, and C Major tunings

While the Thomas Bothe "2B" kalimbas are charming and delightful, they have one major drawback - there is a dearth of instructional materials for them.  This is mainly because each kalimba Thomas makes is an individual, tuned to its own unique tuning, and so it's not really possible to write a book for each one.

I had a great idea about making it possible for people to be taught how to play 2/B kalimbas. The idea came about this way: Over the last 10 years I produced several instructional books/downloads for four different Hokema sansula tunings (a sansula is a special kind of kalimba). While pondering how to make 2/B's teachable, it hit me: why not offer the 2B/9 kalimbas tuned to these four sansula tunings so people could use the sansula books to learn their 2B instruments? So that is what we have done, and below I describe each of the books which can be used with our new "alt" 2B kalimbas.

 

26 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p1 - What is a Sansula?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

All sansulas have nine tines, four of them bent upward

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p1 - What is a Sansula?

Kalimba Magic started making the first alternative sansula tunings many years ago, and we are the only people to have made instructional materials for the sansula and its alternative tunings. This series of tips is an overview of Kalimba Magic's sansula tunings and related instructional materials. 

We start our series of tips with the nuanced question: "What is a sansula?"

26 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p2 - The Sansula in Standard Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The standard A minor tuning requires almost no effort and sounds great

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p2 - The Sansula in Standard Tuning

Kalimba Magic started making the first alternative sansula tunings many years ago, and we are the only people to have made instructional materials for the sansula and its alternative tunings. This series of tips is an overview of Kalimba Magic's sansula tunings and related instructional materials. 

To gain some perspective, we take a close look at where the Sansula started - the standard A minor tuning.

26 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p3 - The Sansula Book

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This ground-breaking book inspired thousands

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p3 - The Sansula Book

Kalimba Magic started making the first alternative sansula tunings many years ago, and we are the only people to have made instructional materials for the sansula and its alternative tunings. This series of tips is an overview of Kalimba Magic's sansula tunings and related instructional materials.

This is a good example of the music played easily on the sansula in standard A minor tuning - it is one of the lessons from the book "Playing the Sansula", which mostly covers the standard tuning.

The media player at the bottom of the article will play a sound recording of this music, when you click on it.

26 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p4 - Why Alternative Tunings?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Changing the tuning can transform the music the sansula plays

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p4 - Why Alternative Tunings?

Kalimba Magic started making the first alternative sansula tunings many years ago, and we are the only people to have made instructional materials for the sansula and its alternative tunings. This series of tips is an overview of Kalimba Magic's sansula tunings and related instructional materials.

Before we launch into several alternative tunings, it only seems fair that I explain why anyone would even want to try an alternative tuning on their sansula.

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p6 - How to Retune?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Exactly how does one go about retuning a sansula?

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p6 - How to Retune?

When you think of retuning, you may envision tuning hammers, tuning prongs, and pliers, and people pushing and grunting, but if you are serious about retuning your sansula, I have one little piece of information that will save you a lot of time and frustration. And we also hook you up with a lot of kalimba tuning resources!

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p7 - The Easiest Retuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Just retuning one of the A tines down to G increases the reach of the Sansula's standard tuning

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p7 - The Easiest Retuning

Modifying one note won't totally transform the sansula, but it will alter, and in this case, extend the musical palette available to the instrument. And if you are going to take the plunge and experiment with alternative tunings for the first time, you should start with something easy. This tuning only requires retuning one tine by a whole step.  It is also easy to get back to the original tuning, though I don't think you'd want to - I myself prefer to have that G than to have the double A's in the standard tuning.

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p8 - The Beautiful E Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

From the Beautiful E Sansula Music Book

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p8 - The Beautiful E Tuning

While the standard-tuned sansula is lovely, many of the things it plays sound similar.  The Beautiful E Tuning for the Sansula not only has a totally different palette of colors and emotions, it can also play a much wider swathe of music than the standard tuning can.

This tip shares the tablature and sound recording of one of the songs from the Beautiful E Sansula book to give you an idea of what the Beautiful E can do.

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p9 - The Heavenly A Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

From the Heavenly A Sansula Song Book

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p9 - The Heavenly A Tuning

The Heavenly A Sansula tuning is Rick Tarquinio's answer to my Beautiful E Tuning.  True to its name, the Heavenly A Sansula is quite lovely.  Not only is this a good tuning in which to improvise, but this tuning actually supports a great many songs.

The song in this lesson is "Sadza Madya Here", a traditional African piece for the karimba, but it sounds great on the sansula as well.

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p10 - Morocco E Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This is an enchanting middle-eastern style tuning

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p10 - Morocco E Tuning

Even though the  Morocco E sansula tuning is one that I haven't explored very much,  I actually have two instruments set up in this tuning!  I play around with this tuning because it is fun.  Morocco E tuning sounds quite serious, which is why I love it so much.

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p11 - Bluesy E Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This funky-bluesy tuning has a free instructional download

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p11 - Bluesy E Tuning

I was playing kalimba at an independent living facility here in Tucson, and the family of one of the residents was there enjoying the music.  After about five or six songs that were happy, light and beautiful, one of the visitors said "Play something ugly!"  Well, I could not. I suspect that what he was asking for was something less of a sweet delight and more gritty, bluesy, down and dirty.

The Bluesy E sansula tuning was created with that idea in mind. 

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p12 - C Major Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

From the C Major Sansula Download

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p12 - C Major Tuning

The C Major Sansula Tuning is one of my favorites.  It is happy and uplifting and powerful.

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p13 - C Minor Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p13 - C Minor Tuning

The C minor tuning is a straight minor pentatonic scale.  It has a little more force and a little less mystery than the standard A minor Ake Bono tuning.

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p14 - Other Tunings

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Following Kalimba Magic's lead in the Sansula Tuning Movement, other tuning innovation is happening

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p14 - Other Tunings

The people at Hokema have also been bringing forth sansula tuning alternatives. They have an app for the iphone that will help you experiment with your own sansula tunings, permitting you to retune, within realistic limits - that is, any tuning you create on the iphone will be possible to create on your sansula.

28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p15 - We'll Work With You

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Do you really need some totally different tuning? We can probably invent it

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p15 - We'll Work With You

Many people are not looking for anything in specific - they will go for a particular kalimba or tuning because it makes cool music that resonates with them.   I think chances are good that these people will find something that tickles them among the tunings I have presented.

Some people have very specific needs.  They might require a sansula in a particular key so that it will work with other instruments playing a song in that key, or to accompany singing a particular song in that key.  Inventing a tuning for a particular key is as much an art as a science.  

In many cases, we can come up with a kalimba that fits your needs. This service is part of what we do at Kalimba Magic. Let us know if you have the need for a special tuning.

07 January 2016

Exploring Pentatonic Tunings

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Pentatonic tunings are culturally and musically important. We present new kalimba video of three different tunings for the pentatonic kalimba

Exploring Pentatonic Tunings

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!