To me, traditional African mbira music is one of the best musics I have ever experienced. I feel it's the pinnacle of African music. It has pure logic, with a spiritual core. Even though its structure is many centuries old, every time I hear it, it sounds fresh and modern to me. (You can hear two wonderful mbira songs right now by clicking in Related Articles below, on "Listen to Mark..." or the YouTube song below it.) This music is magical, speaking to a deep inner part of my being. And there are many in the world who agree with me!
In my years learning and playing kalimba, I have not spent much time trying to play mbira music. But I have come to be very interested in this amazing genre, and want to make it accessible to many more people. I am on a quest to learn African mbira music and translate it onto the Hugh Tracey kalimba and the African Tuned karimba, which are not nearly as demanding or complex to play as the mbira. I know there are many other people who play and love the kalimba as I do, and I believe that they would enjoy playing this music on kalimba as well. Being that kalimba is my "native musical language", and it is the instrument I play the most and feel the most natural on, playing mbira music on the kalimba is a bit like learning a foreign language. But I am seeing the way... and I am sharing that way with you.
The last post regarding mbira dealt with developing a facility playing octaves and fifth intervals which are a crucial part of mbira musical structure. This post demonstrates a simple exercise for playing quickly on one side, and is another motion you need to be comfortable with to play mbira music on the kalimba.