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Mark Holdaway

Interview: Andrew Tracey

This 2008 interview of Andrew Tracey, accomplished kalimba scholar and master of karimba, mbira and kalimba, illuminates the genealogy of African lamellaphones and the history of the Hugh Tracey kalimba These are the 2B kalimbas that will arrive early in January During my 2008 visit to his Grahamstown, South Africa home, Andrew Tracey (Hugh Tracey’s older son), long-practicing ethnomusicologist and musical performer, shared recollections of his father’s work, the early Hugh Tracey kalimbas, the layout of the Hugh Tracey kalimba, and his ethnomusicological research showing the karimba to have the prototypical tuning that was passed down to subsequent instruments such as the mbira dzavadzimu. We are featuring this article once

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Mark Holdaway

Interview: Thomas Bothe and his 2B Kalimbas

This archival 2010 interview sheds some light on a remarkable kalimba maker These are the 2B kalimbas that will arrive early in January The “2B Kalimbas” made by Thomas Bothe are very high quality instruments, and, clearly, labors of love. The care and attention to every detail that is evident in the workmanship of these instruments made me very curious about their creator. I was quite pleased that Thomas was able to spend a little time telling me about himself and his work.     KM: Thomas, how long have you been working with wood, and how long have you been making kalimbas? TB: I started making kalimbas in 1993,

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Mark Holdaway

Free Tablature – Learn “Carol of the Bells”

Free PDF and KTabS Tablature for Alto, Treble, B flat Treble, and Chromatic Kalimbas “Carol of the Bells” is not only a beautiful song that is great to learn on the kalimba, it is also a strategic stronghold of kalimba technique. The basic music consists of two different parts played at the same time, which in this case is not that hard. If you can learn this song, you will be entering the marvelous world of playing two voices of music at the same time on kalimba. Not up for heavy lifting? Please enjoy the video of me performing “Carol of the Bells” on the Alto Kalimba. “Carol of the

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Mark Holdaway

A geometrical approach to Sansula Note Layouts

Sansulas come in many different tunings, which can be somewhat confusing – but here is a way I found to understand the basic shape of all of those tunings This “pitch helix” illustrates how I think of most of the sansulas I have.   The Hokema Sansula come in the standard A minor tuning or in any of the alternative tunings. We present a few purely geometrical ways of thinking about the Sansula tunings. We also introduce a new alternative Sansula tuning based on my favorite Thomas Bothe tuning. One of the features of the Sansula is that whatever you play on it, it sounds beautiful. On the other hand,

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Mark Holdaway

“First Look Inside” – Tablature for Alto Kalimba

You can download the tablature for this Hit Youtube Kalimba song for free! Click to download “First Look Inside” tablature PDF You can get free tablature for the song “First Look Inside”, performed on the Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba by Mark Holdaway. With over 1 million views, “First Look Inside” qualifies as my first YouTube Hit, and hundreds of people have asked for the tablature to this song. It is part of the “Advanced Alto Download”, but it is also available for free in this blog article, in both PDF and KTabS formats. I remember being in Boulder, Colorado back in the mid 1990s – it was a cold but

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Mark Holdaway

Return of The Afroharp

This clever 1970s kalimba is back – or at least its note arrangement is back, on a Catania body The 13 notes of the Afroharp transplanted on a decorative Catania body. The Afroharp, one of the more interesting early Hugh Tracey kalimba competitors, hasn’t been manufactured since the 1970s. I have brought it back, putting its 13 notes onto a Catania body. OK, this isn’t a real Afroharp, but the notes are the same as the Afroharp. This is a pretty interesting note arrangement, borrowing from the pentatonic kalimba tunings as well as from the karimba layout. It plays its own music. I have made a demo video to show

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Mark Holdaway

Using the 6-Note Songbook on Any Kalimba

If you are having difficulty finding your way around a big kalimba, step back and simplify Left: numbers for “C tuning” songs. Right: numbers for “5-tuning” songs. If you would like to play specific songs on your kalimba but you don’t know where to start, or if you feel you haven’t really connected well with your kalimba, you might want to consider getting the 6-Note Pentatonic Song Book. Here is a remarkable fact: if you have a big kalimba with lots of notes, you may very well be able to use the instructional material from a kalimba with fewer notes, but you need to know which tines map into the

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Blog
Mark Holdaway

Playing SaReGaMa’s Lotus and Freygish Karimbas Together

Three tines need to be retuned on the Freygish Karimba The SaReGaMa-tuned Karimbas are one of the coolest developments in the kalimba world in recent years.  This article shows you how to make the Lotus-tuned Karimba and the Freygish-tuned Karimba sing together! You are listening to a Box Lotus-tuned Karimba on the left and a Freygish-tuned Karimba on the right, with a guitar in the middle.  The Freygish Karimba is playing mostly lower notes and supporting harmonies and rhythms, while The Lotus Karimba is playing higher, the box gives it a brighter tone, and the playing is more melodic. I was walking through the Arizona desert last summer with my

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Mark Holdaway

Learn to play the “Kalimba Solo for Lotus”

Tablature and Staff Notation for the Entire Song Click to go to the Lotus Solo product page   Thousands of people have been wanting to learn to play SaReGaMa’s “Kalimba Solo for Lotus” on the Lotus Karimba, and if you are one of those people, I’ve got good news for you. In 2009, New Age musician SaReGaMa celebrated the birth of his daughter, Lotus.  At night he would play her to sleep with improvisations on his Hugh Tracey Karimba.  The Karimba had started out its life in a traditional African tuning, but by the time it got to SaReGaMa it had fallen out of its original tuning, and he began to invent new tunings. 

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