Articles tagged with: lessons

27 April 2016

Tip Series: Exploring Sansula Tunings

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

What is a tuning? Why do you retune? How do you retune?

Tip Series: Exploring Sansula Tunings

The sansula is a great instrument for so many reasons: its lush tone, beautiful craftsmanship, the smooth metal tine tips, the amazing wah-like effects it produces totally acoustically, its simple 9-note layout with staggered tines, and its intuitive tuning that literally transforms nearly-random thumb twiddling into actual music.

However, the same tuning that is geared toward instant success turns out to be very limiting. I realized this early on, but I so loved the tone and feel of the sansula; I wanted to do more with it. So I started to invent sansula tunings, each prescribing its own universe of sound and musical possibilities.

The series of tips that this blog post introduces is my guide to you on the subject of sansula tunings - what tunings we offer, what they sound like, and what instructional resources are available for each. May this guide serve you well!

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.

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!

 

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.

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!

29 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 1

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

While the scale isn't the easiest thing to play on kalimba, you should have it at your fingertips

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 1

The notes your kalimba plays are probably just like the white notes on the piano. However, the way you play them ends up being totally different from a piano... because the notes are organized differently than on a piano.

Playing a scale on a piano, especially just on the white notes, is quite easy.

Playing a scale on the kalimba is a bit harder, but the scale is one of the most useful bits of music you can learn - so please do learn these scales!

29 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 2

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

Here is a song you know that utilizes the scale in its melody

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 2

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

The scale zigzags back and forth, left and right on your kalimba, gradually moving toward ever-shorter tines (to go up) or ever longer tines (to go down the scale).

But why learn scales at all? Because they are useful. Check out Bach's "Minuet in G" - yes, transposed to the C kalimba. If you can play your scales, you have already mastered half the notes.

29 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 3

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

The Kalimba Plays Many Scales - here is a D Minor Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 3

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

If you start on the middle tine - C - and alternate - right - left - right - left outward and upward and stop 8 notes higher, on the left side's C, you have just made the C major scale.

Now, instead of starting and ending on C, try starting on the low D just left of the center tine... and alternate your way up the scale, and stop on D. This is a D minor scale.

29 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 4

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

Here is a kalimba melody that uses the D Minor Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 4

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

This tip illustrates some music you can play in the D minor mode of your kalimba. Of course, the real lesson is for YOU to create some music in the D minor mode, so pay attention to this music and then try your hand at creating your own.

 

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 5

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

Here is the A Minor Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 5

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

 We have already learned that different scales can be made by playing eight tonally consecutive notes on the kalimba, zigzagging our way back and forth over the instrument.

We have played the D minor scale, made by starting on D, and going to E, F, G, A, B, C, and ending on D.

We can get a slightly different minor scale by doing the same procedure, but starting on A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A.

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 6

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

An example of a song that uses the A Minor Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 6

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

Really, this song lives in the A minor scale. It breathes the air and drinks the water of A minor. It knows the curves and twists of A minor, and it follows them. It is founded on the land of A minor.

OK - I like to be dramatic.

Do you remember the song "Those Were the Days, My Friend"? That is an example of a song that lives and breathes in a minor scale.

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 7

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

Edging Up and Down the A minor scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 7

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

This is a great sort of exercise to help you gain familiarity with your kalimba. Each measure only has three different notes - for example, in the first measure, it goes A B C B A. It even rests a little extra time on that last note, to give you a chance to prepare for the next part.

And what is the next part? This exercise, which I call a "spider," inches up and back down... and then does it again, a little higher. And again, each time edging higher and higher.

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 8

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

The G Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 8

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

The G major scale usually has an F# in it. However, if you play a G scale - 8 tonally consecutive notes - on a 17-Note Kalimba in C, you will have an F natural, or a flatted 7th in the otherwise major scale.

In music theory terms, this is the G Mixolydian mode.

To me, that flat 7th is the first step toward minorness, and it introduces a funky sort of feel.

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 9

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

The Upper Octave of the C Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 9

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

Do the math. You have a 17-Note kalimba. There are 8 notes in one octave of a scale. For the C Major scale, which starts on the very lowest note on your kalimba, you will be able to get a higher octave version of that scale.

And here it is now!

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 10

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

A Melody Using the Upper Octave of the C Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 10

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

We used the opening melody of the Bach Minuet in G as an example of how scale segments are used in melodies.

Now that we have had a look at the upper octave of the C Major scale, I take you back to the Minuet melody.