Articles tagged with: Beginner

07 November 2017

Easy Alto Download

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

This tired old download just got a total rewrite

Easy Alto Download

There are three resources that I have recommended to beginning Alto players: the Alto Fundamentals Book, the Alto Primer, and the Easy Alto Download. I include a free, paper Primer when people purchase an Alto kalimba. The Alto Fundamentals Book is sold only as a hard copy. And the Easy Alto Download, though electronic, used to resemble a pile of music dropped into your lap with little instruction by your crazy uncle. Until now.

I am happy to announce the NEW and GREATLY IMPROVED Easy Alto Download!

If you purchased the Easy Alto Download in the past two years, you can get the new version for free. If you didn't, think about buying the brand new download now. It would be an excellent investment.

09 November 2017

There is Music Everywhere

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Customer Linda Hears that Music

There is Music Everywhere

Linda called me one afternoon earlier this year to order a kalimba - she wanted the pentatonic kalimba. She wanted this kalimba not just for herself - she really wanted to pass this kalimba on to her son and grandchild when she was gone.

"There is music EVERYWHERE! I see and hear music just everywhere. In the evening, I hear the music on the breeze, and see the music of the stars, and the song of the clouds as they blow in and cover the stars, and blow out again to release the stars.

And I want the kalimba to bring that music to life."

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?

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.

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.

09 August 2016

TIP: Kalimba Playing Techniques - Glissando

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

The glissando permits you to play a chord of three or four notes

TIP: Kalimba Playing Techniques - Glissando

Not all kalimbas are laid out in the same way, but a lot of kalimba makers follow the lead of Hugh Tracey in laying out the notes to require an alternating left-right pattern to go up or down the scale.  If you have an alternating note layout, two or three adjacent notes on one side of the kalimba will sound great together.

This is a chord - at least three adjacent notes.  Easy!

But how should one play three or more notes simultaneously on a kalimba?

11 August 2016

TIP: Playing the Alto Kalimba - Easy Alto

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

A download and some free tablature

TIP: Playing the Alto Kalimba - Easy Alto

I admit it - I got carried away with my tip on the traditional mbira song "Kuzanga" arranged for the Alto kalimba.  That is a challenging piece, but I know at least one person who will rise to that challenge - hopefully many more.

Now, let's do something that might be of interest to just about everyone - easy music for the alto kalimba.

13 November 2017

On "Just" tuning and A = 432 Hz

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

An Easy Way To Do It, Even If You Don't Do Math

On

"Just" intonation is tuning based on the notion that ratios of frequencies should be ratios of simple whole numbers. That is a complicated way of saying: the distance between notes in a scale should be simple. And it turns out the ear agrees: "just" intervals sound more pleasing than what your $20 digital tuner or your cell phone app will lead you to tune.

We'll explain a simple way you can get most of the benefit of a just tuning.

Oh, and 432 Hz? We'll talk about that too. While I understand 432 has some avid proponents, I myself do not perceive any musical or therapeutic benefit to a 432 Hz reference compared to a 440 Hz reference, but we'll explain how to do that too.