How to Play the Lotus and SaReGaMa Karimbas

New Age musician SaReGaMa is a master at inventing new kalimba tunings. He has turned on a whole new generation of kalimba players, with both his brilliant playing and innovative tunings, the Lotus, the Freygish, and the Air tuning. Instruments, books, and downloads.

Lotus Karimba Products

Lotus Book

Best-selling guide to playing the SaReGaMa Lotus Karimba: 58 pages, includes tablature for 76 musical exercises, with MP3s of each available for download. Dozens of tips for how to progress on the Lotus, plus five alternative tunings. Purchase Book/Download

Lotus Download

PDF download of book: best-selling guide to playing the SaReGaMa Lotus Karimba: 58 pages, includes tablature for 76 musical exercises, with MP3s of each available for download. Dozens of tips for playing Lotus. Purchase Book/Download

Lotus Solo

This download contains the complete SaReGaMa Lotus Solo in two handed staff notation, in Kalimba Tablature, and as a MIDI file – everything you need to learn to play this wonderful piece of music. Purchase Book/Download

Lotus Karimba

The Lotus-tuned Karimba is the best selling of the SaReGaMa models.

SaReGaMa created this karimba tuning right about when his daughter, Lotus, was born. Each night he would help Lotus go to sleep by improvising music on his karimba. When he got really good, he recorded a video of his playing, published it on YouTube. He named it “Kalimba Solo for Lotus” and dedicated it to his daughter. The video got about 20,000 views over the first three years, but then it went viral on Reddit, and in one awesome week the video got half a million views! For a few years since then it has been the most popular kalimba video the world has ever known. While SaReGaMa’s solo is in G minor, the Lotus-tuned karimba plays equally well in C minor.

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Lotus Karimba with Pickup

This is the same Lotus-tuned Karimba, but with an electronic pickup installed. The pickup is mounted beneath the bridge from the back side of the kalimba body, and the jack is mounted at the head of the kalimba. Purchase Kalimba

Box Lotus Karimba

Lotus karimbas have a distinct look. You know for sure, from the lengths of the tines and the scalloped patterns the tine tips make, that this is a Lotus tuning. It is mounted on a box rather than a solid board, which gives you different tonal properties, some acoustic amplification, and the ability to do the “wah wah” effect – but it is definitely a Lotus-tuned Karimba! Purchase Kalimba

Box Lotus Karimba with Pickup

And this one is the box-mounted Lotus-tuned Karimba with pickup. Would you, could you, with a fox? Purchase Kalimba

Freygish Karimba Products

Freygish Download

Download the PDF for the book Playing the Freygish-tuned Karimba. The PDF includes a URL from which you can download MP3 files for each of the 54 songs. Two of these songs can be heard on YouTube (search for Freygish karimba). Purchase Book/Download

Freygish Karimba

The Freygish tuning is my favorite of SaReGaMa’s Karimba tunings. You may be able to detect this from the loving way I highlight the regular pattern the tines make, in the photo. The Freygish-tuned Karimba plays in C harmonic minor and also in a G Middle Eastern scale. Purchase Kalimba

Freygish Karimba with Pickup

All of the Hugh Tracey Kalimbas come with optional pickup. Since Kalimba Magic builds the Freygish Karimba from other Hugh Tracey components, we can always make one from a karimba body with a pickup. Purchase Kalimba

Air Karimba Products


Free Air Download

While we would like to have a full-length download for the Air Karimba in the future, for now we just have this 12-page introduction to the Air Karimba Layout – so for now, it’s FREE! Purchase Book/Download

Air Karimba

Among SaReGaMa’s tunings, the Lotus is the most idiosyncratic, and the Freygish is the most regular. The Air tuning falls somewhere in between the two – it has a fairly regular note layout, but it skips some notes in the lower row, and has a long tine thrown in among short tines on the upper row. The Air-tuned Karimba plays in D minor. Purchase Kalimba

Air Karimba with Pickup

And of course, the Air-tuned Karimba is also available with an electronic pickup. Purchase Kalimba


The two Lotus tunings here have identical notes, but show different numbers which indicate how the notes are used in Gm and Cm tunings. SaReGaMa plays his Lotus solo in the key of Gm, but most folks tend to play the karimba in Cm because on this karimba, C is the low, bass note and they make it be the root note. Every kalimba tuning could be used in multiple modes; these two are the most likely to be used.

SaReGaMa’s Solo for Lotus is played in G minor, but the tuning supports either G minor or C minor. C minor is in some ways more psychologically compelling because the bass note on the Lotus is C. When G is made to be the root note, this is a straight natural minor scale, except that the 2nd is missing.

This chart has the exact same note names as the G minor Lotus tuning, but the numbers – that is, the roles that each note is playing – has shifted to make C be the “1” or root. From this point of reference, the 6th is missing, giving this tuning a sort of pentatonic feel. To be completely pentatonic, the D or 2nd would also have to be missing.

This is a C harmonic minor scale, but it also works as a G Middle Eastern scale. The C natural minor would have a minor 7th, minor 3rd, and minor 6th, but the 7th is a major 7th in the harmonic minor scale.

SaReGaMa Air tuning is a form of D minor with a 4 and a 5 in the bass below D (the 1), but skipping the 7th of the scale in the lower range. Why? Avoiding the 7th permits one to hear either an implied major 7th or a minor 7th, so the lower range does not conflict with the harmonic minor (requiring a major 7th). In the upper range, the minor 7th (which is C) is used, making this a natural minor.


Blog Posts Featuring SaReGaMa Karimbas


Playing SaReGaMa’s Lotus and Freygish Karimbas Together

Free Tablature: SaReGaMa’s Freygish Song

The Freygish Karimba Download, Redux

Backing Tracks from Kalimba Magic Videos


If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via the email form, or call us. Contact Us



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