Articles tagged with: Karimba

04 October 2016

TIP: Playing "Mahororo" on the African Karimba - 4 / 5

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This traditional mbira song transfers well to karimba

TIP: Playing

"Mahororo" is usually played on the mbira dzavadzimu (commonly called the mbira), and is one of the classic songs that fit the chord progression described by Andrew Tracey in his seminal 1973 paper "The System of the Mbira" which studies in depth the ages-old mbira playing of the peoples he and his father Hugh studied for decades . This implies that "Mahororo" is probably one of those "old songs" - meaning it may be something like 500 - 800 years old.

Ivodne Galatea pointed out that it could be played on the karimba. With several arrangements of "Mahororo" under my belt, I am happy to present here the tablature for my latest and best arrangement of the song, which you can follow on YouTube.

30 September 2016

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 3

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Yes, but what if you don't feel like using your right index finger? You can use the thumb slide-off technique!

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 3

I find the addition of the right index finger to the two thumbs to be essential to playing African music, and in expanding the capabilities of kalimbas in general.  However, it typically feels unnatural at first, no matter which approach you take.  A great many people resist using their (non-thumb) fingers on these instruments.

If you just don't want to (or cannot) use a forefinger, what are you to do?

27 September 2016

TIP: Playing "Mahororo" on the African Karimba - 3 / 5

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This traditional mbira song transfers well to karimba

TIP: Playing

"Mahororo" is usually played on the mbira dzavadzimu (commonly called the mbira), and is one of the classic songs that fit the chord progression described by Andrew Tracey in his seminal 1973 paper "The System of the Mbira" which studies in depth the ages-old mbira playing of the peoples he and his father Hugh studied for decades . This implies that "Mahororo" is probably one of those "old songs" - meaning it may be something like 500 - 800 years old.

Ivodne Galatea pointed out that it could be played on the karimba. With several arrangements of "Mahororo" under my belt, I am happy to present here the tablature for my latest and best arrangement of the song, which you can follow on YouTube.

 

16 September 2016

Practice TIP: Experiment with Changing Volume Levels

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Playing strong can help you learn; playing softly can help you discover the "feel" of the music

Practice TIP:  Experiment with Changing Volume Levels

Don't you hate all those internet ads that start with "Try this one weird trick" and then promise that if you do, it will change your life in a profound way?

Well, I have something for you that may seem like a weird trick, but it is really a great little tool that indeed has had a profound effect on my own kalimba, karimba, and mbira playing.

People tend to play kalimba music with every note at the same volume level.  But I can point to three big benefits you can get from changing up the volume level in your kalimba playing. 

22 September 2016

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 2

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The "karimba style" use of the right index finger puts it over the top of a tine, plucking down

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 2

How do you play the kalimba?  Mainly, you use your two thumbs, but you should not overlook the fingers.  It turns out there are multiple ways to use the right index finger, and you can adapt these techniques to a wide variety of kalimbas.

20 September 2016

TIP: Playing "Mahororo" on the African Karimba - 2 / 5

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This traditional mbira song transfers well to karimba

TIP: Playing

"Mahororo" is usually played on the mbira dzavadzimu (commonly called the mbira), and is one of the classic songs that fit the chord progression described by Andrew Tracey in his seminal 1973 paper "The System of the Mbira" which studies in depth the ages-old mbira playing of the peoples he and his father Hugh studied for decades . This implies that "Mahororo" is probably one of those "old songs" - meaning it may be something like 500 - 800 years old.

Ivodne Galatea pointed out that it could be played on the karimba. With several arrangements of "Mahororo" under my belt, I am happy to present here the tablature for my latest and best arrangement of the song, which you can follow on YouTube.

15 September 2016

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 1

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The "mbira style" use of the right index finger puts it under the tine, flicking upward

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 1

How do you play the kalimba? It's a thumb piano, so mainly you use your two thumbs!  The Brazilian masters like to use four or six fingers, playing the kalimba as it sits in their lap - but I don't teach that style. That's because my kalimba playing is a lot about movement of the body while playing, and if you hold the kalimba in your hands and play with your thumbs, you can get up and walk, run, or dance as you play.  Or at the very least, just move around a bit with the music.

The right index finger, however, is a special case, part of the venerable African mbira and karimba traditions, and we will consider it right now.

13 September 2016

TIP: Playing "Mahororo" on the African Karimba - 1 / 5

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This traditional mbira song transfers well to karimba

TIP: Playing

"Mahororo" is usually played on the mbira dzavadzimu (commonly called the mbira), and is one of the classic songs that fit the chord progression described by Andrew Tracey in his seminal 1973 paper "The System of the Mbira" which studies in depth the ages-old mbira playing of the peoples he and his father Hugh studied for decades . This implies that "Mahororo" is probably one of those "old songs" - meaning it may be something like 500 - 800 years old.

Ivodne Galatea pointed out that it could be played on the karimba. With several arrangements of "Mahororo" under my belt, I am happy to present here the tablature for my latest and best arrangement of the song, which you can follow on YouTube.

06 September 2016

New, Free Variations to Accompany the Karimba Song "Wa Kalulu"

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

You can learn to create your own variations!

New, Free Variations to Accompany the Karimba Song

I have written before about how much fun it is to find variations that work with traditional African kalimba music. This article elaborates on this subject, and how I went about creating my own variations, first by improvisation, and then later in composition inspired by those earlier improvisations.

Even in the case of songs such as "Wa Kalulu" for which only a standard part notation exists, we can create essentially infinite variations to go along with this music. All it takes is two karimba players, one with a good grasp of the song as written (in the book "30 Traditional African Songs for Karimba" for example) and another player who has several attributes: a fertile imagination, the flexibility to change what they are playing when the music they are playing isn't working with the original part, and the sense to stay put for a while when they stumble on something good.

28 July 2016

Hugh Tracey's Field Recordings from Africa are Alive and Well at ILAM

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

The man who created the modern kalimba movement also worked to preserve traditional African music

While Hugh Tracey is best known for the Hugh Tracey kalimba, I believe his most important work was the assemblage of 35,000 field recordings he made through the 1930s, '40s, and '50s of traditional music across sub-Saharan Africa.

These recordings captured music across Africa just before much of the traditional music was eclipsed and even erased by modern European influences such as the western scale, choral church music, and western popular music, which were propagated by radio and recordings. 

Today, Tracey's historical recordings are alive and well and accessible. Anyone can listen to them. Their story follows, as well as how they are being brought to life in our time.

21 July 2016

Now The Book: 30 Traditional African Karimba Songs

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This 72-page book contains the music to about 30 traditional karimba tunes

Now The Book: 30 Traditional African Karimba Songs

It is my feeling that "About 30 Traditional Kalimba Songs..." is the most significant kalimba book I have written to date. This book is written from the point of view that the karimba is a living relic; I believe that the kalimbas that were played over a millenium ago had very similar note layouts to the lower half of the two-tiered modern karimba. This means that the music in this collection of wonderful traditional tunes could be very similar to the music that people in Africa played more than 1000 years in the past! When I play these songs, I imagine myself experiencing something of what ancient kalimba players may have thought and felt as they created and played similar music. A unique and magical connection!

Now, don't you want to get some of that?

If you have a karimba already, you need this book. And if you don't have a karimba, you might want to consider getting one - that's how good this book is.

01 July 2016

Infinite Possibility Within Each Line

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

One single musical idea can be stretched so far...

Infinite Possibility Within Each Line

When I play kalimba by myself, I usually go pretty deep. It's like meditation, only more playful. After playing for 20 or 30 minutes, I am usually in a very peaceful state. I seem to look within while I play, and when I stop playing, I find that I don't quite focus on anything in this physical world. It usually takes me five or ten minutes to re-acclimatize to the world. WARNING: Do not operate heavy machinery while playing kalimba! (So far, there is not a call to raise the legal age for kalimba playing to 21.)

Playing kalimba with someone else can also be a very creative experience, and here I will discuss doing that very thing, using a kalimba song that is historically important to explain and illustrate. 

24 May 2016

What's New at Kalimba Magic and the Kalimba World?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Think globally and skype with us - act locally and learn with us

What's New at Kalimba Magic and the Kalimba World?

I've been playing with statistics lately, and I've learned some interesting things. Kalimba Magic has a huge international foot print.  Last month, about 50% of our sales went overseas.  We shipped to Japan, China, Australia, Europe, South America, and even to that friendly country to the north - Canada.  But we have been almost invisible in my own hometown of Tucson; and less than one half of one percent of all my kalimba sales are to people here in Arizona.

I am working to change that.  I am reaching out to my neighbors, friends, and community here in Tucson, as well as farther out across the world.  I am doing what I can to spread the word about the kalimba, not just over the internet, but from one heart to another.  I invite you to read about how I am reaching out to both the local and the international kalimba communities.

07 August 2016

TIP: Playing the African Karimba - "Kuzanga"!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Here is the mbira song "Kuzanga," translated onto the karimba - get the tablature for free!

TIP: Playing the African Karimba -

I have been learning to play "Kuzanga" on the mbira, a 24-note traditional African lamellaphone that in my mind represents one of the pinnacles of ancient African ingenuity and art. 

I realized earlier today: it should be possible to play "Kuzanga" on the African karimba - and it is!  Included here, for your benefit, is tablature of "Kuzanga" for the karimba, for free!  Enjoy.

13 April 2016

New Tip Series for Three Exotic Pentatonic Tunings

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

How to understand a new tuning, and how to make sense of the tuning charts

New Tip Series for Three Exotic Pentatonic Tunings

The pentatonic scales have a great power, related to the fact that playing them does not require as much thought as other scales demand. They have fewer notes, and they are simpler instruments, both physically (with more space between adjacent tines) and intellectually. However, there are some important basic things that you should know about pentatonic scales, and these little bits of wisdom are applicable to almost any scale at all.

In other words, learn the lessons these simple scales have to teach, and you can take those lessons to any kalimba and any tuning you want.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 3

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Scale fragment on the left thumb

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 3

I find that there is a lot of African music that can be played in small scale fragments with just three notes. There are a lot of permutations you can make with these three notes. Let symmetry be your first guide, and let your ear be the second guide. A visually symmetric pattern often sounds great, but your ear is the final judge.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 4

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Mixing it up on the left side

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 4

While the three lower right notes sound great together (the C#, B, and A from the previous tip), the best is when you can create melodies using both the lower row notes and the upper row notes.

02 April 2016

The Definitive Collection of Traditional African Karimba Music

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This 74-page PDF download has the music to about 30 traditional tunes

The Definitive Collection of Traditional African Karimba Music

This is one of the books I've been wanting to write for around five years, and now, with much-appreciated contributions from Ivodne Galatea, I am proud to present this collection of tunes for the African-tuned karimba.

This book is written from the point of view that the karimba is a living relic; I believe that instruments were played over 1000 years ago that had very similar note layouts to the lower half of the modern karimba . This means that the music in this collection could be very similar to the music that people in Africa played more than a millenium in the past. Now, don't you want to get some of that?

 

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 5

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The third intervals

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 5

This is an exercise which uses every "third" interval (some are major thirds, some are minor thirds, but that is not our focus right now) in the lower row tines. They sound great and there are a lot of them. At measure 4, make sure that you start on the correct two notes, as you can start out incorrectly but it still sounds right.

24 March 2016

Learn "Vana Vanogwara" on Karimba - Chiwoniso

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Learn the Song Vanavogwara on Karimba

Learn

In 2013, a legendary figure in African music was suddenly taken from us. Chiwoniso Maraire was a shining light, a great singer and a great player of the mbira nyunga nyunga, also known as the African tuned karimba.

Her instrument of choice is of interest to us for two reasons. Andrew Tracey hypothesizes that this is the original mbira first made in southern Africa some 1300 years ago. But Chiwoniso had a more personal connection to this instrument - the mbira nyunga nyunga was the instrument played, and made famous in America, by her father, Dumisani Maraire - or Dumi as his friends knew him.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 6

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The fourth intervals

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 6

This is an exercise which uses the "fourth" intervals (ie, they span 4 notes) on the lower row of karimba tines. Again, be sure that you are starting on the right two notes. You may want to go back to the previous tip and see how the "thirds" sound compared to the "fourths". My take on it: the third intervals sound more European, and the fourth intervals sound more African. Of course, it really isn't that simple - both European and African music use both 4ths and 3rds, but I think the way the 4th sounds is itself more African, and the way the 3rd sounds is more European.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 7

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Right thumb backup for Left Thumb improvisation

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 7

These two-note chords can be played by the right hand. The main reason to play entirely with the right hand is that this frees up the left hand to dance on that pentatonic scale.

In order to play these two notes with the right hand, play the left note with your right thumb and the right note with your right index finger. The thumb will pluck down, and the right index finger will actually come from under the tine and it will pluck upward.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 8

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

We have arrived at the right thumb part

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 8

Each of these two-note chords is played with the right thumb and right index finger. In going from one chord to the next, you only move the thumb or the index finger, not both. You only ever move by one tine. See the pattern? The right finger usually stays on A, but shifts to G# on the last measure. The right thumb (ie, the left note) usually stays on E, but shifts to F# on the second measure.

01 April 2016

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 9

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

A left thumb suggestion

TIP: A Karimba Improvisational Strategy Part 9

The goal here is for you to play the right thumb's two-note chord part more or less as written, and to invent your own left thumb part. You may have already been successful with this, or you might feel you have no clue of what to do. If the latter is true, here is a left thumb suggestion for you.

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