Kalimba CU

Kalimba Magic NEWS
Volume 2, Number 8

October 12, 2007

In This Issue:

What's New at Kalimba Magic
Kalimba in Wikipedia
Kalimba Ring Tones
Kalimba Workshops in 2008
A Note from Christian Carver
A New Way of Doing the Treble, and a note from Paul Tracey
I Ching, a Classical Piece for Kalimba
Kalimba Community
New Kalimba Retailers

What's New at Kalimba Magic?

Free Shipping from Kalimba Magic

When you order a CD, book, or kalimba from Kalimba Magic before October 22 2007, you will get free shipping to any location in the United States or Canada -- just remember to include the Coupon Code "3Shipping".

Kalimba Magic at PASIC, Columbus OH, Nov 1-3

PASIC logo

PASIC, the Percussive Arts Society International Conference, will be held in Columbus Ohio, on Nov 1-3. In addition to seeing the indoor marching percussion contest, and banging on more drums than you can shake a stick at, this year you will also be able to come down and talk to us at Kalimba Magic, at booth 105, right next to the food in the quiet section. So, if you are interested in meeting us or if you would just like to try out one of our many styles of kalimba, come on down! Or, give us a call at (520) 488-7641. We will have a 15% discount for the PASIC convention.

Kalimba Community members N Scott Robinson and Michael Williams will also be there at PASIC.

All Hugh Tracey Kalimbas Back in Stock!

You would not believe the trouble I've been having getting kalimbas from Africa. You see, the factory that makes the steel spring for the Hugh Tracey kalimbas has been building bleechers for the 2010 Soccer World Cup - and about 10 other things all conspired to make the wide tines almost impossible to get.

But hey, everything is cool now, my kalimbas just arrived from South Africa, and everybody is smiling. So if you were waiting for an Alto with pickup, a celeste Alto, a TM Alto with pickup, an HT8, or a karimba with pickup, Kalimba Magic is ready!

Catania 12 and 8 Note Gourd Kalimbas

Catania 12 Note Gourd Pianos

The Catania 12 and 8 note gourd pianos are now for sale at the Kalimba Shop. These kalimbas represent a great value, selling for $64 and $53 respectively. They have a good sound and the tines are very consistent in feel and height. They are a bit harder to tune than the Hugh Tracey (flip side: they stay in tune longer). The "wah-wah" resonance of the 12-Note isn't quite as pronounced as the Hugh Tracey box kalimbas, but the 8-Note has a very rich "wah-wah" when you wave your thumb and fingers over the sound holes. They play good music, and they are each a beauty to behold, with a face of African paduak or Australian lacewood mounted on a seemingly-perfectly-circular gourd.

Listen to the 8-Note Gourd Piano The gourd adds depth to the kalimba, making it harder to hold - probably children about 10 years and up for this one.

Listen to the 12-Note Gourd Piano This one is a bit larger than the 8-Note. I know several adults who are enjoying learning this one.

Watch video of the 8-Note Gourd Piano
(Note: You'll need Windows Media Player to view this and the movie below. You can download WMP for Windows or the Mac at this location)

Watch video of the 12-Note Gourd Piano

Purchase the Catania 8 Note Gourd Piano

Purchase the Catania 12 Note Gourd Piano

The Amazing Sansula

The Sansula

We've got the sansula in stock, and now is an excellent time to purchase one, as the sansula is featured in the Thursday Tip of the Day, including graphical aids, audio and video. Give this magical German kalimba a listen and you'll understand why they have become one of our best selling kalimbas.

To purchase a Sansula, click to go to the Kalimba Shop!

Kalimba Magic on You Tube

you tube

We've posted some Kalimba Video on You Tube. By the way, the Treble kalimba featured in Chorale, Kalimba Kalimba, and Nowhere Man is none other than the new B flat Treble setup which I introduce further down in the newsletter. Also, look in the Kalimba Community section to see what other people are putting on YouTube.

Kalimba Articles in Wikipedia


There is a short article on Hugh Tracey in Wikipedia.

Until recently, if you searched for "kalimba" in Wikipedia, you were taken to a page on the "marimbula" (a bass kalimba popularized in Carribean music in the 1950's), with a note that "kalimba disambiguates here" - and I didn't even know that "disambiguates" was a word! Just a few months ago, someone convinced the Wikigods to create a new page dedicated to kalimba, but it was empty. SO, I've made a first pass at a Kalimba article in Wikipedia. I will be writing more in the future.

Kalimba Ring Tones

Download these short MP3s for free

I've had this idea for years: kalimba ring tones. I just recorded a whole slew of them, and here are some of the best. Only the higher end cell phones permit you to install an MP3 file to use as a ring tone, and this article will help you get it on your phone.

By the way, I am doing an experiment: I have started playing one of these ring tones when people first arrive at my web site. Please check it out at KalimbaMagic.com - and please let me know your opinion of this - is it helpful to hear what the kalimba sounds like, or is this unpleasant to hear the ring tone playing automatically? Also, do you have a favorite ring tone? Either way, please let me know.

Kalimba Magic Workshops

Kalimba Workshop

May 2008 Workshop in Winamac, IN

We are looking at a weekend Kalimba Workshop to be held at a bed and breakfast in Winamac, IN May 16 and 17, 2008. Located on the Tippecanoe River in rural Indiana, Winamac is within easy striking distance of Chicago, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Indianapolis, Indiana. If you fly in, Chicago looks like the best bet. The workshop would run Friday Night and Saturday, with a small concert Saturday night. Prices would look something like $75 a night for a single room at the B & B ($10 extra for additional room mates), and a workshop fee of about $75 (we are working this out). We are looking to have between 10 and 20 people at this workshop. We will gear the work to whatever level of players we have, so both novice and accomplished players are welcome to come together for this weekend - we will make something beautiful out of what we bring. If you are interested in participating in this Kalimba Workshop, please contact me.

Spring or Summer 2008 Workshop in Ormond Beach, Florida

We are looking to do a 4 hour kalimba workshop at the Florida Folk Music Center, with a workshop fee of about $50. We'll cap off the night with a house concert. Ormond Beach is near Daytona Beach (fly into Orlando). The Florida Folk Music Center attracts a lot of neat folk acts from around the world and supports native Florida folk music. We don't yet have a date for Ormond Beach workshop. If you are interested in participating in this Kalimba Workshop, please contact me.

Summer 2008 Workshop in the Gila, New Mexico

My kalimba friend Glen just bought some land near the Gila Hot Springs in New Mexico, and will have primitive accommodations available shortly. We are looking to do a workshop out on his land next summer. The days will be warm, but the nights at 6000 feet elevation will be heavenly. If you are interested in participating in the New Mexico Kalimba Workshop, please contact me.

Query from Christian Carver

Hugh Tracey Kalimba Wood Finish

A year ago, we started including interviews in our newsletters, and the first interview was with Christian Carver, director of African Musical Instruments, the maker of the Hugh Tracey Kalimba. A few weeks ago, Christian put this question to me, and I am putting it to YOU, the kalimba community.

Christian Carver: I would like to ask your advice on the finishing of the boxes or boards. Up until now, we have sealed the surface of the wood with a sanding sealer, then hand-sanded the surface, to prepare it for a buffed layer of bee's wax. The rationale behind this was to produce a surface that looked and felt good, but could be easily maintained by the customer - needing only an occasional buff with a furniture polish, and not showing scuffing on the corners, as might happen with a varnish. Do you like this finish? I have noticed that the surface preparation sometimes leaves shiny and matte spots, that look a bit tatty, and, following your article on Kiaat, I wondered if it might be time to start finishing with a deeper varnish or laquer that really shows off the wood. Would this enhance the product, or is the 'folksy' look better? Your feedback would be appreciated.

To let your opinion be known, contact me.

A New Twist on the Treble Kalimba

A new tuning and a new setup

Some people really love the Treble kalimba and just tolerate the Alto kalimba - see the comments of Paul Tracey, Hugh's son, below, for example.

On the other hand, while my first kalimba was the Hugh Tracey Treble, I did not connect with it as deeply as I knew was possible. A few years later, I got an Alto, and I got the kalimba of my dreams! Why did I connect more readily and more deeply with the Alto? First, the tuning - the lowest note was the "root note", or "Do" in "Do-Re-Mi", while the Treble starts on the 3rd of the scale. Second, exactly two octaves fit onto the Alto - it ended on a high "Do". Third, the tines are larger and are more widely spaced than on the Treble. So, I found the Alto physically easier to play and I found it easier to wrap my mind around. After I had played on the Alto for years and had achieved a high level of competence on the Alto, I was able to connect better with the Treble kalimba.

But I have changed the tuning and setup of my personal Treble kalimba so that it has now become my Kalimba of Choice - the one I spend more than half my kalimba time with. I have retuned the Treble kalimba such that the root, "Do", or "1" is on the low note of the kalimba. Mine is tuned to Bflat major, though it will also work with B major, C major, and I am going to try C# major. Further, in order to retain my many years of Alto intuition, I scraped the paint off of the tines of my Treble and repainted tines 2, 3, 8, 9, 14, and 15 - so it looks like an ALTO with an extra tine on the far right and the far left. Something really works for me about this kalimba, and I love it as if I am discovering the kalimba again for the first time.

my new treble tuning

If you are interested in seeing the new B flat Treble Kalimba in action, check out the Nowhere Man, Chorale, or Kalimba Kalimba videos at YouTube.

the new Bflat Treble
The B Flat Treble

So, for people who have found the Alto to be their main kalimba, I suggest that you look into this sort of alteration to your Treble. One consideration is that the Alto and Treble will be in different keys. This means they can't play together any longer, but it also means you have one more key to help you play with other instruments or to span a bit more range for vocals, which can't all be done in the key of G. You can do the alteration yourself, or you can get the Kalimba Doctor to do it for you.

Paul Tracey, Hugh Tracey's Son, on the Treble Kalimba

KM, addressed to Paul Tracey: Hey, I just fell in love with the Treble kalimba. My first kalimba was actually a Treble, and I never really bonded with it - I got an ALTO a few years later and took off with it immediately. My son found an old Treble for me on eBay, in top condition, and I kept changing its tuning, and finally it ended up in B flat - with the low note tuned to B flat, so it starts on the root has two octaves in the key of B flat, plus two extra notes at the top. Next, I stripped the paint from the painted tines, and then painted the inner 15 tines as if it were an ALTO (ignoring the difference in key). So I get my 18 years of ALTO intuition, and the ethereal sound of a great old treble.... and it is in a key that I can sing more songs in. Now I play it like 3 times more than I play my ALTO. So Paul Tracey - tell me why the Treble is YOUR favorite.

Paul Tracey: My first Kalimba was a metal one that my father sent to me and which I think I told you I had to play secretly at my high school where I was a boarder. This was because my dad was scared of someone stealing the idea before he had his patents applied for. My house master knew I was hiding a big secret, and now I know that I could easily have shared this secret with him, but at the time I took my father's word very seriously and didn't show ANYONE!

It wasn't until many years later that I tried an alto, and so of course the Kalimba means the treble Kalimba to me.

It was the treble model that I played for 7 years on stage in Wait a Minim! introducing the instrument to the four continents on which we played with that show in the 60's. We played a tune called Foyo, in C, and around Christmas time we substituted a different song: Virgin Mary Had a Little Baby.

Paul Tracey
Paul Tracey

I Ching, The Gentle, The Penetrating

A Classical Kalimba Piece by Per Norgard

The kalimba for this piece is now available from Kalimba Magic

Note Layout for I Ching

The I Ching is the ancient Chinese book of changes. You throw three coins six times, and convert the results of the throws into strong lines and weak lines, which form a hexagram, which you look up in the I Ching book and see what the oracle has to say to you.

The I Ching is also a piece of classical music by Per Norgard which features the kalimba. Actually, it features a very particular 13-note kalimba with some long tines interspersed with some short tines. The full name of the piece is I Ching, The Gentle, The Penetrating, which refers to the name of hexagram 57. It turns out that the left half of the peculiar kalimba makes the same shape as hexagram 57 (LONG LONG short LONG LONG short - ok, you neglect the far left tine). I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out the hexagram for the right side of the kalimba, as well as what these hexagrams might mean. You can listen to a clip of it on Marta Klimasara's site.

Now, you can special order an altered Treble kalimba made up just for I Ching. Just drop us a line! The short tines are bent up so that you can actually play them - otherwise they are hidden among longer tines. This is the same system used by the African-tuned Karimba.

Kalimba for I Ching

You can purchase the I Ching music from Steve Weiss Music in the US or from Strato in Germany.

New Retailers

Kalimba Magic is delighted to announce three new kalimba retailers:

Kalimbas and Irish Flutes

The Irish Flute Store
PO Box 81
Buhl, ID 83316

The Irish Flute Store is mainly a web presence, but Patrick Jones is dedicated to bringing the best Irish flutes to the public, and has decided that the kalimba is a great match to his flutes. So, if you have the Celtic thing going in your kalimba music, stop by and see if Patrick can help you out with a flute. I myself have the Celtic thing going, and I am looking to get a good flute.

Kalimbas at The Ukulele Shop

The Ukulele Shop
1209 Clay St.
Franklin, VA 23851
Hal Ward
(757) 653-7049

Hal Ward runs a Ukulele shop. His idea for the kalimba was threefold: the kalimbas would sound good with ukes, it takes a different kind of person to seek out a ukulele today just as it takes a different kind of person to seek out a kalimba, and he's got a nice amplifier for playing the electric ukes through and thought the electric kalimbas would be cool to play with. So, if you are in his neighborhood, why don't you come on down and check it out?

New Kalimba Retailer in Australia

David Gale
142 Lawrence Hargrave Drive
Austinmer New South Wales 2515

David Gale is a percussion instructor in Sydney, and he is the Hugh Tracey Kalimba guy for Australia now. He also carries my kalimba instructional books. So, check him out if you live in Oz and are interested in a kalimba.

View the complete Kalimba Retailer's List

The Kalimba Community

Far and Wide

Kalimbas on Tiles

N. Scott Robinson has a Great Mbira Website

We interviewed N. Scott Robinson earlier this year. Anyway, he's got a great mbira website, and he has just added a great page on great mbira players, and another one on mbira tunings.

Notable Kalimba Players on YouTube

Marcio has a great two-finger technique. The kalimba is a copy of the Hugh Tracey. Like the ALTO, it has two octaves with the root on the low note, but it is in the key of D. It has narrower tines, like the Treble, and has a pitch range similar to the Treble.

Joel Olive has made his own Sansula. The Sansula's kalimba is sold separately, without the frame drum (Kalimba Magic doesn't sell it this way, but let me know if you are interested), and I think this is such a kalimba, mounted on Joel's own drum. The tuning is a G major tuning. The music is beautiful.

Patti Broussard has more Array Mbira video: Amazing Grace.

Zachary Griffith notes: I just posted a vid of Hurricane Dean thrashing the trees on our street while I play the Karimba you sent me... check it out. We'll be talking as soon as I get back to the states... I'm addicted.

Maurice White is probably the best known kalimba player in the world, and if you haven't heard or seen him play, it is definitely worth your while to check him out! This kalimba is probably a 17-note Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba, retrofitted with a pickup (you can get them like this now at the Kalimba Magic Shop), but tuned in a special way - the central notes are actually longer - and lower - than the standard tuning.

Bash the Trash - A Kalimba Design for Kids

Bash the Trash is a cool program to help kids find ways to reuse some of the things that we would otherwise be throwing away. One way to reuse stuff is to turn it into musical instruments, and they've got a very simple design for a bobby pin kalimba. I've made somewhat more sophisticated kalimbas with bobby pins, and they actually sound pretty good.

The Kalimba Kings, a New Kalimba Band in San Diego

Andy Robinson is no stranger to the Kalimba Magic newsletter. Lately, he has been inspired to lead a new kalimba-based band called the Kalimba Kings.

Andy Robinson: The Kalimba Kings is three kalimba players and a bassist. Sometimes I switch to dulcimer or guitar, and sometimes one of the other kalimba players switches to accordion. About 2/3 of what we do has lyrics, the rest is instrumental. We're doing Penguin (from Exotic America). It's a very different arrangement, as you can imagine - no backwards kalimba, for one thing. And we're doing The Open Door (an Earthlings song), and a bunch of new stuff, including some things we've written together. A couple of my musicians are really young (like, 19!) so it's alternately fun and challenging.

Soon we'll have a MySpace page, with some sound clips and bio and other stuff, and I'll let you know.

I read about Carl Winter (who calls himself "The Kalimba King") a couple of months after we'd named the band. It was too late to turn back! No other name will do, so I hope he's not offended by our name.

Kalimba Note Layout Similar to Concertina

Sandra Westfall says: I received the instruction books, the thumb picks, and to my great surprise and delight, the gift of your CD. Thank you! I'm inspired! And grateful.

Upon my retirement, I decided to learn to play the concertina. With the time to take it seriously, I progressed quickly over the last two years, and I now play English Country and Celtic music with several local bands. And now, after an extended trip to southern Africa, where I relished the music, I'm ready to tackle the kalimba.

You might be interested in this observation about alternating notes... I play an English tenor-treble concertina, which has 56 buttons. "English" means that you get the same note on both the push and pull of the bellows, which is in contrast to the "Anglo", where you get a different note on the push and pull. I wondered if you knew that the keyboard layout on the concertina is based on the same principle as the kalimba! The notes of the scale alternate between the right and left sides of the instrument, and with each change in octave, the fingering shifts to the opposite side. The sharps and flats are off to the sides, in the end rows of buttons. This was Wheatstone's design back in the middle 1800's, and it continues today. The genius seems to be that it allows incredible speed, and, as with the kalimba, chords are pretty simple to play. It took awhile for me to wrap my mind around the fingering, but once it clicked, I moved along with relative ease.

You can go to http://www.concertina.com/fingering/index.htm to see a fingering chart.

That's more than you wanted to know, I'm sure. I'm a beginner, and I certainly don't know much about other musical instruments, but you can imagine my glee in discovering that I'm already familiar with the non-linear approach to the configuration of the notes on the kalimba.

If you have any questions, or if you have suggestions for future newsletter topics or Tip Of The Day ideas, please share them with me! -Mark

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