29 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 1

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

While the scale isn't the easiest thing to play on kalimba, you should have it at your fingertips

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 1

The notes your kalimba plays are probably just like the white notes on the piano. However, the way you play them ends up being totally different from a piano... because the notes are organized differently than on a piano.

Playing a scale on a piano, especially just on the white notes, is quite easy.

Playing a scale on the kalimba is a bit harder, but the scale is one of the most useful bits of music you can learn - so please do learn these scales!

29 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 2

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

Here is a song you know that utilizes the scale in its melody

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 2

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

The scale zigzags back and forth, left and right on your kalimba, gradually moving toward ever-shorter tines (to go up) or ever longer tines (to go down the scale).

But why learn scales at all? Because they are useful. Check out Bach's "Minuet in G" - yes, transposed to the C kalimba. If you can play your scales, you have already mastered half the notes.

29 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 3

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

The Kalimba Plays Many Scales - here is a D Minor Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 3

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

If you start on the middle tine - C - and alternate - right - left - right - left outward and upward and stop 8 notes higher, on the left side's C, you have just made the C major scale.

Now, instead of starting and ending on C, try starting on the low D just left of the center tine... and alternate your way up the scale, and stop on D. This is a D minor scale.

29 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 4

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

Here is a kalimba melody that uses the D Minor Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 4

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

This tip illustrates some music you can play in the D minor mode of your kalimba. Of course, the real lesson is for YOU to create some music in the D minor mode, so pay attention to this music and then try your hand at creating your own.

 

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 5

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

Here is the A Minor Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 5

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

 We have already learned that different scales can be made by playing eight tonally consecutive notes on the kalimba, zigzagging our way back and forth over the instrument.

We have played the D minor scale, made by starting on D, and going to E, F, G, A, B, C, and ending on D.

We can get a slightly different minor scale by doing the same procedure, but starting on A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A.

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 6

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

An example of a song that uses the A Minor Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 6

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

Really, this song lives in the A minor scale. It breathes the air and drinks the water of A minor. It knows the curves and twists of A minor, and it follows them. It is founded on the land of A minor.

OK - I like to be dramatic.

Do you remember the song "Those Were the Days, My Friend"? That is an example of a song that lives and breathes in a minor scale.

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 7

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

Edging Up and Down the A minor scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 7

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

This is a great sort of exercise to help you gain familiarity with your kalimba. Each measure only has three different notes - for example, in the first measure, it goes A B C B A. It even rests a little extra time on that last note, to give you a chance to prepare for the next part.

And what is the next part? This exercise, which I call a "spider," inches up and back down... and then does it again, a little higher. And again, each time edging higher and higher.

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 8

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

The G Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 8

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

The G major scale usually has an F# in it. However, if you play a G scale - 8 tonally consecutive notes - on a 17-Note Kalimba in C, you will have an F natural, or a flatted 7th in the otherwise major scale.

In music theory terms, this is the G Mixolydian mode.

To me, that flat 7th is the first step toward minorness, and it introduces a funky sort of feel.

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 9

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

The Upper Octave of the C Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 9

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

Do the math. You have a 17-Note kalimba. There are 8 notes in one octave of a scale. For the C Major scale, which starts on the very lowest note on your kalimba, you will be able to get a higher octave version of that scale.

And here it is now!

30 March 2019

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 10

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

A Melody Using the Upper Octave of the C Scale

Little Bits of Music - Playing Scales 10

This series of tips is about scales and how useful they are for the kalimba player.

We used the opening melody of the Bach Minuet in G as an example of how scale segments are used in melodies.

Now that we have had a look at the upper octave of the C Major scale, I take you back to the Minuet melody.

25 September 2017

Kalimbas in our Elders' Hands

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

Have you thought about getting a kalimba for Mom or Dad? Or for yourself?

Kalimbas in our Elders' Hands

We are living longer - and hopefully we are living better too. Better knowledge of health and the human body help us take better care of our bodies and minds, leading to the potential of living well as we age.

But part of aging is dealing with loss. I have known elders who played violin, cello, piano, or guitar in their younger days - all physically demanding instruments. At some point, the demands of these instruments can exceed what a body has to give. When dealing with loss, compensation is key. The kalimba is small and easy to hold, but has a surprisingly large voice - a perfect replacement instrument. Playing kalimba also keeps the brain active, challenging the mind and honing hand-ear-eye coordination.

READ ON to get the testimonials of three older women who have discovered the magic of the kalimba.

18 August 2017

Get a Kalimba for Yourself... and a friend

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

A special offer makes it easier to have oh-so-much fun together

Get a Kalimba for Yourself... and a friend

Playing the kalimba can be a profoundly personal journey. Playing takes me within myself, like taking a deep breath and diving to the bottom of a clear and peaceful pool. The diversions and annoyances of the world evaporate, leaving me with whatever problems, challenges, successes and joys that may come up between me and my kalimba.

But, often, as players we like to share that deep space with another special person. A grandmother wants to play with her grandchild, or a father wants to play with his child. A high school student wants to play with her best friend. And players may want to share their kalimba playing with a lover.

05 July 2017

Tambourine as a Creative Kalimba Amplifier Resonator

Written by Juliana Rose, Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Double or triple your Kalimba's volume with a tambourine

Tambourine as a Creative Kalimba Amplifier Resonator

The kalimba is naturally a very sweet and sensitive African folk instrument. It can be played for mainly personal enjoyment - in a busy, noisy world, only you may be able to hear or want to hear that soft voice of your kalimba.

Yet, it doesn't always have to be that way. There may be times you want your sound to be heard above the din of street noise, singers, or other musicians. A simple method of kalimba amplification available to almost every kalimba player's instrument  is to partner it with a kalimba "resonator" or amplifier of sorts. Once you understand the principle, amplifiers can be found everywhere. One surefire method of gracefully and creatively amplifying your  kalimba sound is to gain access to a hand drum or tambourine as a resonator. Let our tip inspire you to sharing your kalimba sound proudly.

14 February 2017

The Tip Index: Archival Tips (2006-2013)

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

They may be a bit harder to find, but they're not lost and they're still very much worth the time!

The Tip Index: Archival Tips (2006-2013)

These early tips are not part of the new Kalimba Magic website, but they are still accessible and are filled with clear and useful information on playing and caring for your kalimba, understanding music in general, and seeing how the kalimba can move people.

07 January 2017

Learn to Read Tablature - 2

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

Understanding ties and dots - extending the length of notes

Learn to Read Tablature - 2

Are you having difficulty understanding note and timing symbols in the tablature?

This blog post is just for you - it's the second of our series on learning how to read kalimba tablature.  In the first post, we talked about what the "tine map" means, looked at the different types of notes and how long each kind lasts, and introduced how to understand timing and keeping time.  

This installment of the multi-part series on reading tablature covers the details of the "tie" symbol (a sideways smile) and the "dot" (a dot immediately after - or "above" - any note symbol).  Both the tie and the dot modify the length of the notes they are applied to, resulting in note lengths that we could not indicate using just the basic note types and increasing greatly how music can be communicated using a visual system.

06 December 2016

Alto Exercises to Expand Your Skills, Part 2

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

FAST SAME-SIDE PLAYING: AN ESSENTIAL STRENGTH FOR MAKING MBIRA MUSIC ON KALIMBA

Alto Exercises to Expand Your Skills, Part 2

 

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.

 

01 December 2016

Easy Christmas Carols - "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" on Alto

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements, Tips

You may be surprised - you can play this simple carol and you can read tablature!

Easy Christmas Carols -

I've heard this story from more than a hundred people by now: people had been living under the burden of the belief that they were simply unable to make music, but then they discovered the kalimba, and they discovered they could make music on the kalimba, and they were even appreciated for the music they were able to make.

If you are reading these words, you probably know you can make music.  But you might be convinced that you cannot read tablature. 

This blog post is a message to you: you CAN read tablature, and you CAN play songs that everyone around you will recognize.  And Christmas carols are the perfect place to start.

09 January 2016

TIP: Fixing the BUZZ

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Do any of your tines make a sound that annoys you? Learn to fix that!

TIP: Fixing the BUZZ

To keep your kalimba sounding good, learning to tune is the most important thing. After that comes learning to fix the odd buzzy tine so that each note on the instrument can ring true. This tip points out the resources for removing the buzz and returning your kalimba to sounding clear.

11 October 2016

TIP: Playing "Mahororo" on the African Karimba - 5 / 5

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This traditional mbira song transfers well to karimba

TIP: Playing

"Mahororo" is usually played on the mbira dzavadzimu (commonly called the mbira), and is one of the classic songs that fit the chord progression described by Andrew Tracey in his seminal 1973 paper "The System of the Mbira" which studies in depth the ages-old mbira playing of the peoples he and his father Hugh studied for decades. This implies that "Mahororo" is probably one of those "old songs" - meaning it may be something like 500 - 800 years old.

Ivodne Galatea pointed out that it could be played on the karimba. With several arrangements of "Mahororo" under my belt, I am happy to present here the tablature for my latest and best arrangement of the song, which you can follow on YouTube.

04 October 2016

TIP: Playing "Mahororo" on the African Karimba - 4 / 5

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This traditional mbira song transfers well to karimba

TIP: Playing

"Mahororo" is usually played on the mbira dzavadzimu (commonly called the mbira), and is one of the classic songs that fit the chord progression described by Andrew Tracey in his seminal 1973 paper "The System of the Mbira" which studies in depth the ages-old mbira playing of the peoples he and his father Hugh studied for decades . This implies that "Mahororo" is probably one of those "old songs" - meaning it may be something like 500 - 800 years old.

Ivodne Galatea pointed out that it could be played on the karimba. With several arrangements of "Mahororo" under my belt, I am happy to present here the tablature for my latest and best arrangement of the song, which you can follow on YouTube.

30 September 2016

TIP: Alto Kalimba Riff #1

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Free Tablature to help you play the music in this YouTube video on your Alto Kalimba

TIP: Alto Kalimba Riff #1

When you look at a kalimba, you see a tiny, unassuming instrument. But if the possibilities of the kalimba are considered all at once, they can boggle the mind. An easy way to reduce the overwhelm when starting to learn something new is to pare down the number of tines you use, making the kalimba into a simpler instrument.

 

If your Alto kalimba only had six notes rather than fifteen, it would be much easier, right?  This video will teach a very useful trick - temporarily marking a few notes on each side of your Alto Kalimba with a Sharpie marker to help you learn parts of a song.  By drawing your attention, it becomes easy to move your fingers to the tines that have the marks on them.  The riff (or repeated melodic phrase) we study here uses marked tines.

Sounds simple, right?  And it turns out you can make some really cool music with just a few notes!

30 September 2016

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 3

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Yes, but what if you don't feel like using your right index finger? You can use the thumb slide-off technique!

TIP:Technique: Playing with the right index finger - 3

I find the addition of the right index finger to the two thumbs to be essential to playing African music, and in expanding the capabilities of kalimbas in general.  However, it typically feels unnatural at first, no matter which approach you take.  A great many people resist using their (non-thumb) fingers on these instruments.

If you just don't want to (or cannot) use a forefinger, what are you to do?

27 September 2016

TIP: Playing "Mahororo" on the African Karimba - 3 / 5

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This traditional mbira song transfers well to karimba

TIP: Playing

"Mahororo" is usually played on the mbira dzavadzimu (commonly called the mbira), and is one of the classic songs that fit the chord progression described by Andrew Tracey in his seminal 1973 paper "The System of the Mbira" which studies in depth the ages-old mbira playing of the peoples he and his father Hugh studied for decades . This implies that "Mahororo" is probably one of those "old songs" - meaning it may be something like 500 - 800 years old.

Ivodne Galatea pointed out that it could be played on the karimba. With several arrangements of "Mahororo" under my belt, I am happy to present here the tablature for my latest and best arrangement of the song, which you can follow on YouTube.

 

16 September 2016

Practice TIP: Experiment with Changing Volume Levels

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Playing strong can help you learn; playing softly can help you discover the "feel" of the music

Practice TIP:  Experiment with Changing Volume Levels

Don't you hate all those internet ads that start with "Try this one weird trick" and then promise that if you do, it will change your life in a profound way?

Well, I have something for you that may seem like a weird trick, but it is really a great little tool that indeed has had a profound effect on my own kalimba, karimba, and mbira playing.

People tend to play kalimba music with every note at the same volume level.  But I can point to three big benefits you can get from changing up the volume level in your kalimba playing. 

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