Articles tagged with: Free Tablature

26 December 2016

Songs for the 8-Note Kalimba - "Away in a Manger"

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free Tablature for "Away in a Manger" for the truly versatile 8-Note Kalimba

Songs for the 8-Note Kalimba -

Kalimbas generally have more tines than an 8-note does. You may be wondering what could you do with only eight notes.  While it might seem that a kalimba with only eight notes would not be very capable, it turns out that there is quite a bit of music available to the 8-Note kalimba.

Almost every 8-Note kalimba is tuned to the C major scale, playing from low to high: "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do."  In addition to being useful for many songs in C, you can attain a "new and different instrument" by simply retuning a single note down by a half step.  By tuning the 7th note, B, down to B flat - the kalimba is thrown into the key of F with a fundamentally different note layout, and a whole world of different songs can be played on the instrument in this tuning.  "Away in a Manger" is one such 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


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.

06 December 2016

Peaceful Protest

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A download of peace and protest songs for the Alto Kalimba

Peaceful Protest
Things in the world may be looking difficult for you, no matter where you are.  Here in the US, I am one of more than a few (more like millions) who are disillusioned and extremely concerned about many things...including climate change and the prospects for dealing with it, now that a new presidential administration is coming in - one that seems to offer nothing good for our world's environment, and actually is looking downright destructive.  A few months ago, I felt optimistically that we had a chance at preventing the worst consequences of climate change.  With the election going the way it did, I think we have thrown that chance down a deep dark hole.

01 December 2016

Easy Christmas Carols - "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" on Alto

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

You may be surprised - you can play this simple carol and you can read tablature!

Easy Christmas Carols -

I've heard this story from more than a hundred people by now: people had been living under the burden of the belief that they were simply unable to make music, but then they discovered the kalimba, and they discovered they could make music on the kalimba, and they were even appreciated for the music they were able to make.

If you are reading these words, you probably know you can make music.  But you might be convinced that you cannot read tablature. 

This blog post is a message to you: you CAN read tablature, and you CAN play songs that everyone around you will recognize.  And Christmas carols are the perfect place to start.

30 November 2016

Playing "When I'm Gone" (the "Cups" song) on C Alto Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Get the free C Alto tablature for this huge internet hit song


A few years ago, I saw a 10-year-old girl flipping her cup to this song, and I have to admit I was blown away by how well she was doing it.  Last month when I found the video for Anna Kendrick's pop song "When I'm Gone" and connected it to the cup routine I'd seen some years before, I suddenly understood why this video has 300 million views - it takes dozens of views to learn how to do that cup jive!

I put in my dozens of views - but it wasn't to learn the cup trick. I was, at first, freeform jamming along on the kalimba.  But slowly, the more I played with this song, the more my playing settled down into a repeatable part.  And that's what I share with you here.

09 October 2016

The Freygish Karimba Download, Redux

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements


The Freygish Karimba Download, Redux


"The Freygish-tuned karimba plays delightful songs, mostly in C harmonic minor.  This instrument brings alive baroque melodies and harmonies, romantic music box waltzes, fiery Middle-Eastern music, and hot Latino cumbia - nostalgic, sensual, mysterious and sweet.  This karimba plays unique music that is not played by any other." (From the back cover of the Freygish karimba download.)

The instrument that you can hear right now, which is playing in the video below, is the Freygish karimba, and the song is "Music Box Farewell," which is the last composition in the Freygish Download.

If you don't know about the Freygish Karimba, come on in and listen to what it does and learn a bit about this wonderful gem of an instrument.

03 August 2016

New Music Tabs for 2B/14 kalimba in "E1 Tuning"

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

Half the 2B/14 kalimbas we shipped last month were in E1 Tuning - Now there is music for the E1 Tuning

Thomas Bothe is famous for his delightful kalimbas as well as for his unique, individual kalimba tunings.  However, there was one day last month when I was fulfilling orders, and I tuned three 2B/14 kalimbas to the E1 tuning - which is perhaps the classic 2B tuning that most represents Thomas Bothe's soul.  Simple, delicate, easy, and beautiful.

Two of the three customers requested the E1 tuning after they had learned about it from the various 2B tunings I have documented online.  The third 2B/14 customer just asked for "a special tuning" - and I thought "I'm gonna make this E1 tuning an extra special tuning by writing some extra special music for it!"

08 April 2016

Free Tablature for Pentatonic Kalimbas in Exotic Tunings

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Great music for G minor and Ake Bono tuned 11-Note Pentatonic Kalimbas

Free Tablature for Pentatonic Kalimbas in Exotic Tunings

It turns out there are dozens of possible ways to arrange the notes into a pentatonic scale. A pentatonic scale is any scale that has five unique notes per octave, a simplification over the standard seven note major scale.  The pentatonic scales tend to sound raw, earthy, primitive. About 40% of the kalimbas Hugh Tracey encountered in his travels around Africa had various sorts of pentatonic scales, and Maurice White of the band Earth, Wind and Fire put his kalimba into a pentatonic scale to make it resonate more with Africa. 

My take: With fewer notes, there is less potential for making mistakes on the pentatonic scale. This frees one up to play more powerfully and more emotionally.

It is pretty easy to change the tuning from one sort of pentatonic scale to another - this is something you can do yourself. You could explore all of these exotic tuning destinations on your own, with a single pentatonic kalimba.

As it happens I have transcribed onto tablature a couple of songs that I improvised on the pentatonic kalimba, each in an exotic tuning. I happen to like them both a lot! The tablature makes it very easy for you to learn them and both are available right here on this page. In addition to the tablature, the songs are also presented on video, giving you some great tools to help you learn how to play like a pro!


08 April 2016

Retuning the Pentatonic Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A Guide to Changing from G Major Tuning to Other Exotic Tunings

Retuning the Pentatonic Kalimba

Why would anyone retune their kalimba? Well, I hope you DO tune up your kalimba every few weeks or so, at least to maintain its correct original tuning. However, once you learn the skills required to brush up the kalimba's tuning, you also possess the skills required to explore alternative tunings - you just need to push or pull the tines a bit farther than the very delicate moves required to fine-tune the kalimba.

But again, why would someone retune their kalimba to a different tuning? Because different musics are available to different tunings, and because different tunings help produce different emotional expression. If you ever start to get bored with your particular kalimba and what you can do with it, you should consider changing to another tuning to see what new music might speak to you.

This article walks you through four different possible retunings for the 11-note pentatonic kalimba. So, if fear or uncertainty were preventing you from taking the plunge and retuning your kalimba, you now have the tools and guidance to jump into the river and baptise yourself in the flow of ever-changing musical possibilities. Really - once you begin to explore new tunings, it's a whole new world!

18 December 2015

Free Tablature - Learn "Carol of the Bells"

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Free PDF and KTabS Tablature for Alto, Treble, B flat Treble, and Chromatic Kalimbas

Free Tablature - Learn

"Carol of the Bells" is not only a beautiful song that is great to learn on the kalimba, it is also a strategic stronghold of kalimba technique. The basic music consists of two different parts played at the same time, which in this case is not that hard. If you can learn this song, you will be entering the marvelous world of playing two voices of music at the same time on kalimba. Not up for heavy lifting? Please enjoy the video of me performing "Carol of the Bells" on the Alto Kalimba.

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