13 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings - p6

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

More about using the 5th

TIP: Exploring Exotic Pentatonic Tunings - p6

The 5th interval is so important that an entire book could be written on it alone. The attention and time you devote to learning and practicing with it is much more than valuable. Let me hear from you about how you are absorbing and growing with this essential knowledge, which will underscore most of your kalimba endeavors

The 5th is such a significant interval that it tends to show up all through the scale, not just between the "1" and the "5".   If you can learn the other pairs of notes on your kalimba that also make 5th intervals, you can bring all of the power of the 5th interval in to other sounds and chords, adding depth and breadth to your playing.

Between the "2" note and the "6" note is also a 5th interval, and you can do the same exercise on those tines as you have done on the "1" and "5".  "3-" and "7-" make a 5th, as do "3" and "7".  And similarly, "4" and "8" make a 5th interval - but "8" is the same note as "1".  Keep going higher - "5" and "9" make a 5th interval, but "9" is the same as "2" - so play the exercise with "5" and "2".  And there are others as well.

There are so many strong and rich and essential combinations of two notes that you can spend hours exploring this.   Whenever you find a 5th interval on your kalimba, make a note of it.

Here's that exercise again:  Find all the notes labeled "1" and "5" (there will be at least three, probably four or more notes in all, depending on how many tines you have).  Create melodies and patterns that use only those notes.  The strong 5th interval comes through in the music you make with those notes.  And when you can't take it anymore, find another pair of tines that also makes the 5th interval, find all notes of the same name and number, and create new patterns out of those notes. The very last paragraph of the last tip, P5, has some great instructions for doing these, worth reading over for a little inspiration.


"Floaty Kalimba" on the F7 Bebey tuned pentatonic kalimba.


"Peaceful Mystery" on the G Ake Bono tuned pentatonic kalimba.


"Malian Blues" on the G minor pentatonic kalimba.

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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