28 April 2016

TIP: Exploring Sansula Tunings - p11 - Bluesy E Tuning

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

This funky-bluesy tuning has a free instructional download

I was playing kalimba at an independent living facility here in Tucson, and the family of one of the residents was there enjoying the music.  After about five or six songs that were happy, light and beautiful, one of the visitors said "Play something ugly!"  Well, I could not. I suspect that what he was asking for was something less of a sweet delight and more gritty, bluesy, down and dirty.

The Bluesy E sansula tuning was created with that idea in mind. 

The image here is a page from the free "Bluesy E Sansula Download," which you can obtain in its entirety by clicking on the image.

Looking at the tablature here, the pattern is actually totally generic.  You can play this sort of pattern on any kalimba in any tuning, and it will work to some extent.  If it doesn't work as coherently as you like, you should identify a note that is bugging you.  This pattern only uses four different notes - two on each side.  Find a different note that sounds good with the other three, and replace the bad note with the good one throughout.

In what sense is this a "two against three" pattern?  The first measure has two copies of a simple pattern, each three notes long, and played on the right thumb.  The second measure has three copies of an even simpler pattern that is only two notes long.  Rather than play these two groups of patterns together at the same time, we shift one back in time by a half beat to create interlocking right-left patterns - in measure 3, the right thumb leads, and is always followed by the left thumb.  You can still see the two independent patterns, but we are creating something bigger than the sum of these two simple patterns, and this new pattern comes to life.

The video is of a kalimbula in the Bluesy E Tuning (the kalimbula is a new type of sansula with a ceramic body).  The music being played has nothing to do with the tablature above; I wrote the featured song after Arizona bluesman Stefan George passed on in 2015.

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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