06 August 2016

TIP: Playing the Alto Kalimba - "Kuzanga"!

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

Free tablature for the mbira song "Kuzanga," translated to Alto kalimba!

"Kuzanga" is a song for the mbira dzavadzimu, or mbira.  I've been working on this song for about an hour a day on the mbira now for about six weeks, and even though I have a long way to go, I can still feel myself getting better each day - what a wonderful feeling.

I have not yet started to learn this song on the Alto kalimba, but I realized that several of the variations could be played on the Alto. So, I translated the song to Alto kalimba.

  Here is an arrangement for the Alto Kalimba:

Kuzanga Alto

The mbira dzavadzimu - the traditional African instrument that this song's creators used - has a three octave range, while the Alto kalimba and African karimba have only a two octave range - that means that if you translate an mbira song to one of these other two instruments, you have to be lucky, careful, and inventive.  We have successfully translated four different variations of "Kuzanga" onto the smaller two octave Alto - pretty good, we think!

This song on Alto kalimba is a bit challenging - you will need to use your right thumb and right index finger, and you might find you need to cross over and play a left side note with your right thumb.  If two tines are played on the same side but have an unplayed tine in between them, feel free to do a glissando and play all three notes as a chord.  And you might just have to leave out a note or two here and there - just see what you can do!

Listen to "Kuzanga" as arranged for the Alto kalimba, with the media player below.  Each variation is played four times.

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.