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Mark Holdaway

Introducing the Hang-9 Kalimba

Exploring the wide collection of handpan tunings on a simple kalimba The Hang-9 kalimba on a Halo handpan The handpan drums such as the Hang and the Halo are very magical instruments, in large part because of the really cool tunings they come in.   However, they have certain drawbacks – the multi-thousand dollar price tag, the waiting lists, and their inability to change tunings come to mind. The Hang-9 is a brand new kalimba offered only by Kalimba Magic that encapsulates the tunings and note layouts of the handpan drums in an inexpensive kalimba that can be retuned to any of the tunings. The Hang-9 was given this name because

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Playing the Scale

For many kalimbas, you play the scale by alternating L-R-L-R and moving outward The alternative left-right pattern required to make a scale is one of the essential movements you can make on your kalimba, and you should learn this!  On the kalimba, scales are not the easiest thing to do because you need to cross over from one side of the kalimba to the other, and you need to do so without loosing your place.  However, there is a trick. By the way, this scale tablature is for the Alto kalimba.  Look at each block ball on the tablature, from bottom to top, and trace down to the note name

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Getting the Most out of Your Alto and Lotus

The easiest way to get the most relevant information for your kalimba Click here to view first page of the Lotus download Announcing new informational PDF downloads for the Alto and for the Lotus.  These PDF files contain live links to all the information you need to keep your kalimba or karimba operating in top order.  Furthermore, each download includes a comprehensive list of the instructional resources available for that instrument.  This download is included with each Alto or Lotus sold. Or you could just download them now! Click on the image and you can see the first page of the Lotus download, or go to the links at the

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Stopping the tines

Usually when you pluck a tine, it sustains for about 5 seconds – but you can put a stop to that! One of the charms of the kalimba is how the tines ring clearly and slowly fade away.  You cannot control exactly how long the tone will last, it has its own natural decay, like plucking a strong on a harp.  Playing kalimba is a bit like playing piano with the damper open. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes you want a note to be staccato – ie, played very short.  Why?  Sometimes the music just calls for a short or abrupt note.  Sometimes you need to

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Playing Patterns in DIfferent Octaves

An upper octave pattern can be shifted to the lower octave, but it’s handedness is reflected This is something important to understand.  Just because you can play a pattern in one octave doesn’t mean that it will be easy in the other octave, because it will be a mirror image of the other octave’s pattern.  Strangely, your brain may have to totally relearn the phrase in a different octave in spite of the similarities in the music. The insite in this tip – that when you shift a phrase up or down an octave, you need to learn to play the mirror image of the pattern you started with –

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Playing the Scale – in Octaves

Because two notes separated by an octave are on opposites sides of the kalimba, you can play them at the same time! The two previous tips illustrated how to play the upper octave G major scale and the lower octave G major scale on the Alto kalimba.   This tip combines the upper and lower scales and plays them at the same time. The upper octave scale on the Alto kalimba goes left – right…. while the lower octave scale goes right – left.  This means that while your left thumb is playing the middle G, your right thumb can play the low G.  When the right thumb is playing the

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Playing the Scale – A Lower Octave

Many kalimbas – such as the Alto, the Treble, and the Pentatonic 11-Note kalimbas – have a range of two or more octaves.  In my mind, this is where the playing really gets to be interesting.  This tip relates the lower octave scale to the upper octave scale on the Alto kalimba. The Alto kalimba tablature here starts at the bottom and works up.  The first measure shows the upper octave of the G major scale, while the second measure shows the lower octave of the G major scale.  The two scales have the exact same note names: G A B C D E F# G (you can tell by

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

TIP: Fixing the BUZZ

Do any of your tines make a sound that annoys you? Learn to fix that! To keep your kalimba sounding good, learning to tune is the most important thing. After that comes learning to fix the odd buzzy tine so that each note on the instrument can ring true. This tip points out the resources for removing the buzz and returning your kalimba to sounding clear. When I  listen to other people’s kalimba recordings, I am often annoyed by nasty buzzing sounds.  I think “If only they knew how easy it is to fix those buzzes!” Before I record a kalimba, I touch up on the tuning and make sure

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Exploring Pentatonic Tunings

Pentatonic tunings are culturally and musically important. We present new kalimba video of three different tunings for the pentatonic kalimba The coupon code PENTA30 gets you 30% off the box pentatonic Aboriginal peoples all across the globe have used pentatonic scales in their music.  One of Hugh Tracey’s fundamental findings was that about 40% of all the kalimbas he documented in his expeditions across Africa were tuned to pentatonic scales. Find out what makes the pentatonic scales so essential! A pentatonic scale is any scale that has five unique notes per octave. (Most other scales have seven unique notes per octave.) On average, the notes in the pentatonic scale are

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