The B15 Kalimba is a two-tiered kalimba with 15 tines mounted on a solid body, with 7 tines on a lower row made of wider (5mm) tines and 8 tines on an upper row made of narrower (4mm) tines.
The B15 Kalimba by Hokema is a great vehicle for all kinds of wonderful kalimba play. The standard tuning is in the key of G – the same two octave range of notes on the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba… though the two rows of tines adds a new wrinkle to the playing… but it is roughly similar to the Alto Kalimba in what it can do.
But I have one customer in the rural desert southwest, Lonny, who is saving up his money each month to buy a whole series of exotic alternative tunings on the B15 Kalimba.
Lonny likes the B15 Kalimba as the basic vehicle
He likes the tines, the tone, the two rows of tines, and the sustain.
But he doesn’t go so much for the standard diatonic tuning. He likes the Freygish tuning, the Wizard tuning… “I was introduced to the Wizard tuning from the B11 kalimba. But with just 11 notes, you’re just getting started. With 15 notes, you can really do something.” So he’s been getting the B15 kalimbas in these exotic tunings.
And now Lonny likes the oriental Ake Bono pentatonic tuning.
Each person is built a little differently. When I hike with my wife, we always have very different ideas of where we should sit for our rests. People have different ideas of what is a safe place. And when people improvise on kalimba, just twiddling their thumbs to try to make kalimba magic happen, they have different ideas of how their thumbs should move. And the way Lonny likes to move his thumbs… makes magic on these exotic tunings.
In the video, you may notice that there are some redundant notes in this tuning, between the outer tines on the lower and the inner tines on the upper row. If you are the first person to tell me why I made that choice in tuning the normally diatonic B15 Kalimba to a pentatonic scale, I’ll send you a kalimba.
Anyway, I invite you to check out the exotic tunings we can put the Hokema B15 Kalimba in. One tuning that especially interests me is the F-15 Karimba tuning:
And Lonny – also check out the B17 Mini. This kalimba uses the same body as the B15… but because all the tines are the narrower ones, you can fit 17 of them on there… and we can also bend those tines and put this kalimba in equally exotic tunings: