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.


(By the way, the tablature here is for a 17-Note Kalimba in C, but the concept and even the tablature is the same for many other types of kalimbas.)

OK, by now, I am getting a bit tired of writing out all of these little bits of music - so instead of me providing you a song that utilizes this scale, I am going to ask you to play around with this scale and to create your own music.

First some suggestions:

You really want to emphasize the G as the root. How do you do that? If you look at the A minor song example, you will see that the phrase both starts and stops on the root note, A. In Bach's Minuet, the song starts on the 5th of the scale, and then goes to the root (C).

There is no restriction that you have to stay within the lines of the eight notes that define the G Mixolydian scale. You can go higher or lower, as long as you emphasize those G notes as being important, either by playing them several times in the melody, or by playing them at important places in the music, such as on strong beats or at the beginning or ending of a phrase.

Aim for clarity and simplicity in your melody. See if you can repeat it. If you cannot repeat your melody, it might be too long, or too complex.

If you can repeat your melody, you can try to make small variations on it. If you can do that, try playing the melody in pairs - playing it once, and then playing it again in a slightly modified form.

If your melody is really memorable, you can pick it up tomorrow and play it again. I find that to be a good filter, in that my bad inventions will be forgotten, even by myself, and my good melodies will be remembered. However, if you don't want to leave it to chance, you may want to download some BLANK TABLATURE for your kalimba and notate the tines you need to play to acheive that melody. A link to a page with blank tablature can be found below.

About the Author

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway has been playing kalimba for over 30 years.  He invented his kalimba tablature in 2004, and has been writing books and instructional materials for kalimba ever since.  His business, Kalimba Magic, is based on the simple proposition that the kalimba is a real musical instrument capable of greatness.  Mark's kalimba books are a down payment on this proposition.

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