Articles tagged with: Beginners 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.

30 December 2016

Songs for the Student Karimba: Borrowing From a Karimba Song

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This old, old instrument lives on and can play lots of 17-Note karimba music

Songs for the Student Karimba: Borrowing From a Karimba Song

The "student karimba" is my own invention - or rather, it is my re-invention.  I came up with the name, but Andrew Tracey calls it the "kalimba core" as well as the "original mbira".  I like to call it “the kalimba that time left behind.” While this little instrument is far from popular these days, it was mentioned in the first scholarly article on the kalimba written in 1950 by missionary A.M. Jones.  I feel this simple instrument’s pattern is truly important because of where it stands in the history of all thumb pianos: it is the likely foremother of every southern African lamellaphone according to Andrew Tracey’s work. He asserts that it began to be used over a thousand years ago.  Playing this "kalimba core" or "original mbira," we are standing where ancient humans stood.

The kalimba core was very likely added-to over centuries to create other instruments. This post looks at ways that this may have happened and how the instruments maintain their original core, and how they and the music they play are related.

And the cool part?  Most African songs that are played on the 17-Note karimba (for which Kalimba Magic has a lot of music) have substantial sections that can be played on these core eight or nine notes. What’s more, music that is intended for the student karimba can be played on the 17-Note karimba too!

13 December 2016

Learn to Read Tablature - 1

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

What are these different note symbols, and how long does each one last?

Learn to Read Tablature - 1

In a recent blog post I described the the tablature as a map of the kalimba tines which shows you the right tines to play to accomplish a particular melody or song. If you are a newcomer to reading any kind of music, and find it impossible to know how to "see" tablature, or to know what the different symbols in kalimba tablature really mean, don't despair. 

This blog post is just for you - we talk about what the "tine map" means, look at the different types of notes and how long each kind lasts, and how to understand timing and how to keep time.  We help you make friends with this new language, showing you in tablature and in sound files exactly how to read and play the different notes.

07 January 2017

Learn to Read Tablature - 2

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

Understanding ties and dots - extending the length of notes

Learn to Read Tablature - 2

Are you having difficulty understanding note and timing symbols in the tablature?

This blog post is just for you - it's the second of our series on learning how to read kalimba tablature.  In the first post, we talked about what the "tine map" means, looked at the different types of notes and how long each kind lasts, and introduced how to understand timing and keeping time.  

This installment of the multi-part series on reading tablature covers the details of the "tie" symbol (a sideways smile) and the "dot" (a dot immediately after - or "above" - any note symbol).  Both the tie and the dot modify the length of the notes they are applied to, resulting in note lengths that we could not indicate using just the basic note types and increasing greatly how music can be communicated using a visual system.

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.

28 August 2016

Back to School with the Catania 6-Note Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A perfect instrument - while they last - for kids between the ages of 5 and 12

Back to School with the Catania 6-Note Kalimba

It is the end of an era - Steve Catania has retired, and the good quality, inexpensive Catania Kalimbas are almost gone.  Most stores that carried them are completely out.  But at Kalimba Magic, because of a very large earlier order, we still have plenty of 6-Note Catania kalimbas in stock.

Why did I order so many 6-Note kalimbas? Here is a tale: The 6-Note came about because I saw a glaring need for a simple, small kalimba, and I suggested that Steve Catania make the 6-Note. Which he did. Perfect for beginners and small children, this beautiful, diminutive instrument has lots of space between tines, so you almost never play the wrong tine by accident.  It has a 1-octave range, but uses the pentatonic (5-note) scale.  It is simple, easy, and it sounds great.

07 August 2016

TIP: Playing the Bb Treble Kalimba - "Kuzanga"

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Here is tablature for "Kuzanga" on Bb Treble Kalimba

TIP: Playing the Bb Treble Kalimba -

"Kuzanga" is a song for the mbira dzavadzimu, which is the instrument that accompanied the original, traditional African song.  I've been working on "Kuzanga" now for about six weeks on my mbira, and even though I have a long way to go, I can still feel myself getting better each day - it's a wonderful feeling.

While it is possible to play most of the "Kuzanga" variations on the Alto kalimba and the African karimba, the Bb Treble is much better for this song - the two extra high notes permit you to play the variations 1 and 2 (that I love so much!).

Below is an arrangement for the Bb Treble kalimba (it is laid out just like the Alto kalimba, but is shifted up to the key of Bb and also has an extra note on the far left and the far right):

 

 

 

 

05 August 2016

TIP: Playing the 8-Note Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The 8-Note is a great place to start your kalimba journey

TIP: Playing the 8-Note Kalimba

When Hugh Tracey recorded and studied every kalimba he could find in southern Africa, he discovered roughly 40% of the kalimbas had the pentatonic scale (5 notes per octave), 40% were hexatonic (6 note), and 20% were like our modern scales, heptatonic (7 note).  The 8-note kalimba, in its standard tuning, actually has only 7 unique notes per octave, and the top note is the same as the bottom note, but is an octave higher.

Can you say "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do"? 

It turns out that there is a lot of music you can play on an 8-note kalimba in such a tuning.

05 August 2016

TIP: Playing the Student Karimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This is the instrument Andrew Tracey calls "The Original Mbira"

TIP: Playing the Student Karimba

If you are a beginning kalimba player who wants to play western music, the 8-Note kalimba is a great place to start. But if you want to play African music, I would recommend you get the Student karimba.

The Student karimba is an 8-note or 9-note instrument that attempts to reconstruct what Andrew Tracey believes was a common instrument over 1000 years ago.  He argues that this instrument gave rise to several other well known traditional instruments, such as the mbira dzavadzimu and the karimba.  As such, there are lots of traditional African songs you can play on this instrument.  Kalimba Magic has two books that work with it.  The Student karimba is a great introduction to the full-sized African karimba.