The African-tuned karimba is a very interesting instrument. Jega Tapera was a South African who played traditional music on a 13-note karimba, a historical folk instrument. In the 1950s he was discovered by Andrew Tracey, who recognized his excellence, and Tapera subsequently began teaching at the Kwonangoma School in Rhodesia, where the 15-note version of the African-tuned karimba came into being in 1960 to further Tapera's music. In 1980 the 17-note version was first made by Tracey's South African company, African Musical Instruments, which still sells Hugh Tracey kalimbas today.
Based on much scholarly research, Andrew Tracey put forth a very interesting theory that the karimba is very close to the "original mbira" in southern Africa, dating back over a thousand years, and that the traditional songs still played today on the karimba have roots that are equally ancient.
I find the karimba to be a great instrument, one that "speaks the African tongue." It is easy for me to create my own African-sounding music just by following a few simple rules. I'll share some of those with you here.