10 January 2016

TIP: Playing Patterns in DIfferent Octaves

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in Tips

An upper octave pattern can be shifted to the lower octave, but it's handedness is reflected

TIP: Playing Patterns in DIfferent Octaves

This is something important to understand.  Just because you can play a pattern in one octave doesn't mean that it will be easy in the other octave, because it will be a mirror image of the other octave's pattern.  Strangely, your brain may have to totally relearn the phrase in a different octave in spite of the similarities in the music.

The insite in this tip - that when you shift a phrase up or down an octave, you need to learn to play the mirror image of the pattern you started with - applies to the Alto, the Treble, the Bb Treble, and the 11-Note Pentatonic kalimbas, ie, most Hugh Tracey kalimbas.  Kalimbas that are built on a 6-note scale (we can make them, but don't regularly sell them) will not have this property, but rather the octaves will be on the same side. 

The simple phrase of music shown here starts out Left - Left - Left - Right - Left, but when it goes into the lower octave at Measure 3, the pattern is reversed to Right - Right - Right - Left - Right.

Remember, your right thumb is controlled by your brain's left hemisphere, and your left thumb is controlled by your brain's right hemisphere.  In order to play a complex phrase that isn't simply alternating thumbs, your hemispheres will each have different learning to accomplish that complex pattern.  When you flip octaves, basically, the right hemisphere has to learn something like what the left hemisphere had been doing - and your left has to learn what the right had been doing.  So even though the patterns an octave apart are very similar, they each require their own learning.

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.

Comments (1)

  • TYRONE Ewing

    TYRONE Ewing

    14 February 2016 at 19:54 |
    Thank you Mark for doing what yoy do I greatly appreciate it


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