Someone called a few months back. His wife had recently died, and he was working on healing from that great loss. He had played mbira dzavadzimu in the past - and since the mbira is all about helping us to connect with the ancestral spirits, I figured he wanted some help with that.
But instead of being drawn to mbira music, this man was drawn to the song "Breaths", written by Francis Bebey, with lyrics focusing on how our ancestors live on in the physical world around us. For a bit of background, Francis Bebey was a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and kalimba player from Cameroon. Remember, Cameroon is close to the original birthplace of the kalimba - Gerhard Kubik (Austrian ethnologist famous for his African music study and collections) asserts that bamboo-type kalimbas originated there about 3000 years ago, and they are still made there today.
The bereaved caller wanted to learn to play "Breaths", and the first thing he needed was to know which kalimba it could be played on and in what tuning. So I began some research to give him an answer.
With detailed listening, I discovered that Francis Bebey used a simple pentatonic scale, but it was one that I had not encountered before. And upon jamming with this tuning, I immediately decided to share it with the world, because it really is cool and African and funky. Watch the video "Floaty Kalimba" and see if you're not won over!