Is there any music written for the kalimba?
Yes, there is a lot of music written for the kalimba and kalimba tablature is the key. Kalimba tablature is a map of the kalimba, extended up the page. You read from bottom to top. See the kalimba on the left? It has three notes on the tines, the first three notes of “The Hokey Pokey” (“You put your…”) – and right above the kalimba you see the same notes in the tablature for the song. Similarly the kalimba on the right has the opening notes “Day-O, me say…” of “The Banana Boat Song”. The first note is actually a four-note chord and is held longer – hence it is “open” (has white in the center).
That’s how easy it is to read kalimba music written in tablature form.
Until Kalimba Magic started in 2005, there were about three books on how to play the kalimba, and none of them were very good. Over the last 10 years, I have made it my mission to create top quality instructional materials for most of the kalimbas we sell. My goal was to put my 30 years of kalimba playing experience into these books, so you can build on my hard work and you can play as well as I can, and I hope it will take you less than 30 years to get there!
As each kalimba type has different notes, each different kalimba will play different songs and needs its own book. I have written dozens of kalimba books and dozens of instructional downloads, and I still have many more book ideas to work on, so stay tuned!
Why are some red and some blue? Are the colored tines the “black notes” on the piano?
There is no difference between red and blue. The colored tines are not the black notes on the piano. Conceptually, the kalimba just has the white notes on the piano (well, actually many kalimbas are in the key of G, so they have an F#, but you can think of them as just having the white notes). The colored tines help you find your way on the kalimba. They help you remember where the different notes are, help you relate the left side to the right side, help you relate one kalimba to another (the Treble and the Alto have the same notes colored), and they help you transfer notes on Kalimba Tablature onto the Kalimba!
By the way, Kalimba Magic now paints the selected kalimba tines ourselves, so you can have a choice of colors. We have good paint for Green, Blue, Red, Black, and White. If your kalimba doesn’t come with a choice of paint color, go ahead and ask us for your preferred color.