Catania6Notes 150 How to Play the 6-Note Pentatonic

The Catania 6-Note Kalimba is a rugged instrument, great for children or for music therapy. It is economical, can be tuned in many ways, and can play a surprisingly large repertoire of songs for a kalimba with so few notes.

 

How to Play the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba

How to Play the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba

First, Pentatonic 6-Note Kalimbas are very easy to learn on and very relaxing - a good place for absolute beginners. If you purchase one, it will be accompanied by a numbers-based instructional booklet for the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba, for no additional charge. This simple numbers-based book for the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba can be used as a starting point for almost every kalimba we sell. Click the "Read More" link below for more about this book and its many uses. The numbers-based approach works for kids 6 and up, or for adults who have no previous experience with music.

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Tunings for the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba

Tunings for the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba

The pentatonic scale has five notes in an octave, and the 6th note is the same as the lowest note, repeated at the top of the scale. There are actually many possible tunings of the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba, but right now we'll just look at the three tunings that are used in the 6-Note Booklet - the standard C tuning, the F "5" Tuning (because it has the 5 in the bass, or lowest note), and the G "5" Tuning.

The numbers 1, 2, 3, correspond to the notes of the major scale, "Do, Re, Mi", etc. In the major pentatonic scale, the 4th and 7th degrees of the scale are missing. In the standard tuning, the lowest note C is the root note, or "1". However, by tuning the 3 note up just a bit, from E to F, and calling it the root, the notes form the F major pentatonic scale, but with the 5th in the bass as well as at the top.

The tuning of your kalimba determines the songs and the sort of music you can make with it. That is especially true when you only have six tines. The standard C tuning for the 6-Note Pentatonic Kalimba can play a few songs you know: Joy to the World (Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog), Swanee River, Oh! Susanna, Shortnin' Bread, and the guitar riff from Sunshine on a Cloudy Day.

In the F or G "5" tunings, there are actually many more songs you can do - Amazing Grace, As I Went Down to the River to Pray, This Little Light of Mine, and She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes. These songs form a family of related melodies that usually start on the 5th and swing up to the root note or 1 - as in This Little Light of Mine = 5 6 1 6 1.

Example Music

Example Music

This Little Light of Mine requires one of the "5" tunings, and the high 5 - denoted by 5' - is not used in this song. The songs in the 6-Note Booklet are mostly songs that you already know. They have the song words written out, and the numbers - the degrees of the scale - written above the words. You probably want to write the numbers on your kalimba tines with a Sharpee marker. Then, as you sing each word, you also hunt for the number above the word on your kalimba and play it simultaneously. "Play by the numbers" really is easy! Get the songbook and lots of info when you click the link below.

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Or - Just Twiddle Your Thumbs

The pentatonic scale is also great for jamming or improvising and you can just twiddle your thumbs to create the music you feel like making. I find this relatively simple kalimba to be great for brisk walks or even running, playing very simple music. How you decide to use this kalimba is up to you, but even with as few as six notes, there are a lot of possibilities. Just think what you could do with 11, 15, or 17 notes!

Questions?

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via the email form, or speak directly to Mark Holdaway at 520-488-7641.

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