Articles tagged with: Alto Kalimba

02 December 2018

The Big Four Kalimba Playoff: Silent Night

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Compare: 10-Note Heart, 17-Note Heart, Hugh Tracey Alto, and Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimbas

The Big Four Kalimba Playoff: Silent Night

I have just finished "Easy Christmas" ebooks for each of four of my best selling kalimbas. Part of every ebook is the sound recordings for each song. So, I have a great data set for comparing these four popular kalimbas, side by side.

26 November 2018

What Colors Are Available for Painting Kalimba Tines?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

a profusion of possible colors!

What Colors Are Available for Painting Kalimba Tines?

Come with me for a moment, to stand behind Hugh Tracey, circa 1952. For years before he began selling his kalimbas, Dr. Tracey worked at perfecting a new kalimba invention, creating over 100 prototypes, experimenting with various design features. When he finally settled on what worked and sounded best for his Treble kalimba, he had really accomplished a tremendous feat. Hugh Tracey kalimbas still look almost exactly as they did in 1954, when he started selling them to the world, and many kalimba makers across the globe copy the Hugh Tracey Treble design. Hugh Tracey's work is the standard by which modern kalimbas are judged.

One very significant change that Dr.Tracey made to traditional African instruments was to paint every third tine on his kalimba. Why? To help you find your way on its 17 otherwise indistinguishable tines.

Hugh Tracey kalimbas generally come with just RED or BLUE painted tines. But Kalimba Magic offers you LOTS MORE CHOICES...  including BLACK and _______.

16 November 2018

Easy Christmas Music for Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

All your holiday favorites, arranged for the 15-note Alto in G

Easy Christmas Music for Alto Kalimba

This collection of Christmas favorites has been arranged specifically for the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba in G. We started with a set of generic arrangements, but refined several of them so all the songs are comfortable and easy to play on the 15-Note Alto.

I myself have been playing Christmas Carols on the kalimba for 20 years. Playing carols is a fine way to learn your kalimba, working on songs you already know. It is also a great way to learn about classical harmony. Playing carols is a fantastic way to cultivate feelings of joy and gratitude during the leadup to the holiday season. It is also a great way to share joy with other people in your life.

This 59-page PDF download with clickable links to MP3 files has tablature for 32 different versions of 28 different carols. This book has enough easy songs to have you playing carols right away, and it has enough complex songs to keep you learning carols each holiday season for years!

15 November 2018

"Forgiveness" - A Song for You To Learn on Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free Tablature for Alto Kalimba and 17-Note Kalimba in C

I write this blog post as a gift to the five people who have asked for the tablature.

I made a video of this song a few months ago to demo the 17-Note Heart Kalimba in C, but I wrote the song about 15 years ago. Originally, it was called "Chorale," and I wrote it originally on piano, as a love song for my sweetie, Deb.

The first 16 measures were included in my first kalimba book "Kalimba Fundamentals for the Alto Kalimba" under the name "Chorale." A longer version was included in the "Advanced Alto Download."

Are you wondering why I call this song "Forgiveness" now, and not "Chorale"?

15 October 2018

Why Are Some of the Tines Colored?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The Top Five Reasons Why

Why Are Some of the Tines Colored?

My idea of kalimba playing perfection is being able to know exactly where every tine is on my kalimba without looking. To be able to leap across from one side to the other, or to be able to jump large intervals from a low tine to a high tine... perfectly! To be able to play amazingly, quickly, accurately, and crisply, all by feel and memory.

Ah, it's a lovely dream. But after playing for 32 years, I still like to rely on visual cues to help me keep my place and find my way on the kalimba.

This blog post describes five different ways in which painted tines can help you play better kalimba.

18 October 2018

Where can I find african or african-style songs for the Kalimba?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

We actually have a lot of African music for kalimbas

Where can I find african or african-style songs for the Kalimba?

Last week, someone emailed me asking: "I've looked at a lot of your music, and I cannot find the African music! Is there any actual African music for the kalimba?"

The answer is YES! Although admittedly, I do provide a lot of other types of music - Sansula music, folk tunes, Christmas songs, Elvis songs, nursery rhymes, New Age music... and it is easy to get lost. But there is plenty of African stuff here!

'Way back around 10 years ago, I was embarrassed about how little I knew about African music, and how little of it I offered at Kalimba Magic. But now, after a lot of work, learning and playing, all of that has changed, and we actually have a LOT about African music.

24 September 2018

Christmas Music Resources

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

If you want to perform some Christmas songs on kalimba, start now!

Christmas Music Resources

Over the years, we have created a lot of books, instructional materials, videos, and articles about playing Christmas music on your kalimba.

For your pre-pre-Christmas consideration, I have collected it all in one place for you. If you want to spend money, we have plenty of books and CDs for you to take advantage of. If you don't want to spend money, we have created a lot of free resources, and they are all listed here.

23 May 2018

Over the Rainbow

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free Tablature for Alto, Treble, and Chromatic Kalimbas - and learn about the Secondary Dominant

Over the Rainbow

I never really understood the big deal about "The Wizard of Oz" when I was growing up. We had a black and white TV, and I remember in high school, a friend asked me "Hey, you know how when Dorothy lands in Oz, everything is suddenly in color?" I answered "No..." and suddenly realized part of why I had never gotten the movie! The music from this movie did not become a favorite part of my life as it did for so many.

But when you are a performing musician, it is not always about what pleases you most. In music, you also are playing for the audience. And I can tell you, no song succeeds in touching listeners' hearts quite like "Over the Rainbow" played on a tiny little music box (the kalimba).

11 June 2018

Three Against Two for Structure - 1

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The Fabric of a simple "Three against Two" pattern is strong enough to be the foundation of a song

Three Against Two for Structure - 1

What does "John Huffington" have to do with the classic African three-against-two multi-rhythm?

I don't know a John Huffington, but here's his name, embodied in this rhythmic riff when I play it on the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba.

When I fall into the groove of this pattern, I hear my kalimba saying  the name "John Huffington."

The three against two pattern requires that one thumb play one thing (three notes) in the same space as the other thumb is playing something else (two notes). And repeat.

You can play this sort of riff on any kalimba. This post gives you a prescription for how to accomplish the feat.

 

07 November 2017

Easy Alto Download

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This tired old download just got a total rewrite

Easy Alto Download

There are three resources that I have recommended to beginning Alto players: the Alto Fundamentals Book, the Alto Primer, and the Easy Alto Download. I include a free, paper Primer when people purchase an Alto kalimba. The Alto Fundamentals Book is sold only as a hard copy. And the Easy Alto Download, though electronic, used to resemble a pile of music dropped into your lap with little instruction by your crazy uncle. Until now.

I am happy to announce the NEW and GREATLY IMPROVED Easy Alto Download!

If you purchased the Easy Alto Download in the past two years, you can get the new version for free. If you didn't, think about buying the brand new download now. It would be an excellent investment.

09 November 2017

There is Music Everywhere

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Customer Linda Hears that Music

There is Music Everywhere

Linda called me one afternoon earlier this year to order a kalimba - she wanted the pentatonic kalimba. She wanted this kalimba not just for herself - she really wanted to pass this kalimba on to her son and grandchild when she was gone.

"There is music EVERYWHERE! I see and hear music just everywhere. In the evening, I hear the music on the breeze, and see the music of the stars, and the song of the clouds as they blow in and cover the stars, and blow out again to release the stars.

And I want the kalimba to bring that music to life."

18 November 2017

Why is Pentatonic Kalimba with Alto such a hot combo??

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

These two kalimbas can sound so good together!

Why is Pentatonic Kalimba with Alto such a hot combo??

The pentatonic kalimba and the Alto kalimba are a great natural pairing. They can create a gorgeous contrast that works when two players can "jam with deliberate abandon" - meaning players who are technically proficient and can also really move, respond, and dance with each other's music. The pentatonic's basic traits contribute to the very attractive alliance it can make with the Alto.

The pentatonic kalimba is a bit of a mystery. It seems so simple - a perfect instrument for a beginner. Everything you play on it sounds great - playing it is a bit like finger painting - you just move your thumbs around and your movements somehow are transformed into beautiful sound. Which is probably why experienced players love jamming with the pentatonic kalimba! It represents freedom, and when you play it, you might very well feel as if you are flying.

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 (!)

18 July 2017

Instructional Download: Alto in G minor

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This minor retuning can breathe new life and emotion into your Alto Kalimba

Instructional Download: Alto in G minor

The Hugh Tracey Alto in standard G major tuning has become the standard kalimba in many ways. For 12 years, it has been the best selling kalimba at Kalimba Magic. I have written more instructional books and downloads for this kalimba than for any other kalimba. I know more songs on my Alto than on any other kalimba. And the Alto kalimba was the blueprint for other models such as the Bb Treble and D Treble kalimbas.

But what if the world of G major sounds isn't your world? What if you need something darker, moody, a bit mysterious, rather than that happy-go-lucky Alto kalimba with a smiley face on it?

You might be interested in the G minor tuning for the Alto kalimba - and you might be interested in this new instructional download for the G minor tuned Alto.

15 July 2017

A Novel Stereo Kalimba Recording Technique

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Two electric kalimbas, plugged in, hard panned L and R

A Novel Stereo Kalimba Recording Technique

This unique recording technique results in lots of separation between the L and R notes in your recording, and you can be very creative when processing their individual sound.

I invite you to hear what it sounds like - headphones would make the separation effect complete, but I think it actually sounds better through stereo speakers. To listen, just continue reading.

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.

31 May 2017

What you get when you buy an Alto Kalimba from Kalimba Magic

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A great kalimba, 30 years of my kalimba playing experience, and considerable love

What you get when you buy an Alto Kalimba from Kalimba Magic

Every time I ship a kalimba, I play it to make sure it is all just right.  And as I play it, I make a little prayer, that the person who gets this kalimba will come to love and understand their little instrument.  But I do much more than just pray.  I send out as many keys to the doors of understanding as I can.  We stack the odds in favor of success.

15 May 2017

Simple Mbira Music for Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Stylizing this archetypical mbira music makes it simple to play on Alto Kalimba

Simple Mbira Music for Alto Kalimba

For the first 15 years I played kalimba, something about it confused me.  Even though my Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba came in a box that said it was an African instrument, when I played the kalimba, the music that naturally came out was more like folk and rock and classical music.  My kalimba played the music that I knew and loved and understood.

Americans get very little exposure to African music. For the last ten years, I have been slowly moving toward getting to know, and understanding, African music, with the goal of being able to (someday) play African music on my kalimba. 

In this post, I show you step-by-step how to play a cool yet simple traditional African progression on the Alto kalimba. 

28 May 2017

Different scale, different feel - new realms on the Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Shifting the emphasis by one note gives your music a new emotional color

Different scale, different feel - new realms on the Alto Kalimba

Can you play the major scale on your kalimba?  "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do?" Your tuning might not permit this scale - the pentatonic scales and the Lotus tuning are both missing some notes.  Many kalimbas can play the major scale.  Find that scale on your kalimba now if you can.

Just by shifting the starting point of the scale by one note, we are going to show you how to create a totally different scale on your kalimba.  Instead of G major on the Alto, we will play a type of A minor scale.  Whatever kalimba you do have, this post can open doors for you too, so read on.

05 April 2017

The "Clocks" riff from Coldplay, on Karimba and Alto

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Learn to play a kalimba version of the piano ostinato in Coldplay's "Clocks"

The

An ostinato is a motif or phrase that persistently repeats in the same musical voice.  Almost everybody knows the piano ostinato that provides the foundation for Coldplay's compelling song "Clocks," written a decade ago.  Evocative and haunting, this song seemingly brings to life a dream world.  (Click on the link below this post to hear it.)  While I've enjoyed this song since it came out, it never occurred to me to play it on kalimba until recently at a music therapy conference.  One of the attendees started playing "Clocks" on ukelele, and I realized she was playing it in D mixolydian mode, which has the same notes as the key of G major. This is also the same key in which a lot of Hugh Tracey kalimbas are tuned.  I ran and got my Alto kalimba and immediately jumped in. 

Would you like to learn how to play the riff to "Clocks" on the kalimba?  We have tablature for both African karimba and Alto kalimba.

13 January 2017

Six Modes to Expand the Emotional Expressiveness of your Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Each different mode is like a totally different instrument. Don't you want to unlock that power?

Six Modes to Expand the Emotional Expressiveness of your Kalimba

You can totally change the scale your kalimba is playing, not by doing anything hard such as retuning your kalimba, but just by starting and ending on a different note than you usually do.  Emphasizing a different note makes that the root note, and the whole system of whole steps and half steps shifts, and all of a sudden the kalimba is playing as if it were tuned to a totally different scale.

How different can the scales be?   Here are my descriptions of each of the modes: Mode 1: happy.  Mode 2: dark, but jazzy and sophisticated.  Mode 3: dark and middle eastern sounding, exotic.  Mode 4: angelic. Mode 5: Jerry Garcia in 1969.  Mode 6: melancholy and serious.

If you can access these different modes in your playing, you have the power to express these types of feelings in your playing.

24 December 2016

Songs for The Alto Kalimba - "Zambezi"

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free Tablature for Tinashe's Song "Zambezi"

Songs for The Alto Kalimba -

Several people have requested the tablature for Tinashe's popular and touching song "Zambezi," which has been around on YouTube for a while. It is a great song for the kalimba, as it is pretty much just a four-measure riff that is repeated through the song with minimal changes.  It is not difficult and even novice players can learn to play this song in about 10 or 15 minutes.

"Zambezi" is performed by Tinashe on solo Alto kalimba and voice, and we also have a link to him performing it with a four-piece band. There is not much information available about him to be found on the Internet.  But be aware that there is another Tinashe - a female African American artist, who is more famous than the Tinashe of "Zambezi" fame; she doesn't play the kalimba - so try not to confuse the two.

Download the free tablature and learn this simple, pretty song!

10 December 2016

"Away in a Manger" - First learn the Easy Melody, then Add Chords. Voila!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

LEARN THE USEFUL TECHNIQUE OF HOW AND WHERE TO ADD CHORDS TO A SIMPLE MELODY

Often people think of the kalimba as a very simple instrument.  However, it stands proudly with the harp, the guitar, and the keyboard as instruments that can play both a melody and musical accompaniment - in other words, you can play complex music with the kalimba.

I'd like to show you a few rules of thumb that are very useful in creating a more interesting and profound-sounding song, starting with an easy, familiar melody. It will help you know where, when and how to create simple chordal accompaniment which can very easily make your kalimba playing absolutely gorgeous.

11 December 2016

Seven Basic Moves on the Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

UNLOCK YOUR KALIMBA-PLAYING POTENTIAL WITH THESE MUSICAL BUILDING BLOCKS THAT WORK WITH ANY DIATONIC KALIMBA

Seven Basic Moves on the Kalimba

Here we present seven of the most basic building blocks of kalimba music. They are based on simple thumb routines which the body can easily remember.  (This group is directly applicable to diatonic kalimbas, ones that cover the notes "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do" in some scale.) Each of these routines can be applied in different ways to different tines, and this will produce different music based on the same sort of easy pattern.

For each of the seven basic moves, we give you a very short bit of tablature to illustrate the shape of the pattern, explain what the pattern is and why it is useful, and provide a recording to convey its sound.  All that is left is for you to pick up your kalimba and reproduce these simple moves that will help unlock your potential as a kalimba player.

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