What's the Buzz at Kalimba Magic

Happy Mark
Message from Mark Holdaway
Proceeds from Premium Kalimba Sales To Benefit African Workers
Listen for the voice of God. You will know it when you hear it.

I am not particularly good at listening to God. I am inconsistent. But on many occasions God hits me over the head, and then there is no way for me to ignore what God is saying.

Mostly, God speaks to me through my own delays. I put things off, they pile up. The physical trails of many half-finished projects crisscross my house. While most of them could be picked up and restarted in one to five minutes, the major downside is that my house has the look and feel of total disaster.

Inspiration and joy motivate me. I walk into my office area and, if I am called to a project, the African-American Spirituals book, for example, I can sit and work on it for hours, getting into the details and meaning of the music. Often I feel God in my work—to the point of "quaking" or getting goosebumps. An intellectual brick will fall into place and many things suddenly make sense. I stop and give a prayer of thanks. While my predisposition is towards silent prayer, sometimes I can jump up and down with excitement and say out loud, "Thank you, Lord! Thank you, God! This is so good." I feel gratitude for life, for being alive, for this particular thing I am led to do—for how God has touched my life in this moment in this place.

I just got that excited YES feeling, and I actually walked away from packing up kalimbas this morning to write these words. You see, I just saw the most beautiful Alto Kalimba I have ever seen. I picked it up and said "THIS is a Premium Kalimba." In the January newsletter this year, I announced my decision to offer Premium Kalimbas. The idea was that I would select the best instruments from stock, and then lavish time on each one, playing and refining tunings, until these already superb quality instruments would become just perfect. And, of course, I would charge extra for Premium Kalimbas.

So, for 5 or 6 months now, I have been refining extraordinary kalimbas. BUT I have not offered any for sale yet—because something was bothering me.

Yesterday, I had an email exchange with Mark Komsana, an employee at AMI (African Musical Instruments) who makes kalimbas by day. But he spends weekends and evenings looking for kalimba resonator gourds and other kalimba accessories, items painted in traditional and modern African motifs—we will be offering these soon from Kalimba Magic. As Mark and I were discussing a cost issue, he reminded me of another dream of mine, which I had described in last July's newsletter: to create a nonprofit organization that would contribute funds to improve quality of life for the people who make the kalimbas, the people in the Grahamstown area and people in other communities in Africa. I sadly explained to Mark that, with the economy as it is, I have had to delay plans to act on the nonprofit idea.

Then this morning, I looked at this most beautiful kalimba, a kalimba that had been in Mark Komsana's able hands about 4 months ago, and I realized why I had delayed going forward with the Premium Kalimbas. Part of what I would charge extra for is the work, effort and love, which I invest in each of these kalimbas to render them among the best 2% of kalimbas that I sell. But a far larger part of the extra value in any kalimba designated as Premium is due to the original work done by the African workers at AMI in South Africa: the selection, cutting and sanding of the wood, etc. And I cannot claim credit for this part of the work. I realized in a flash that I had been standing on the verge of exploiting these workers.

By now, no doubt, you see the "aha!" moment, which I had this morning.

This is how I am now proceeding with the Premium Kalimba program: I will contribute my time in refining these kalimbas AND 100% of proceeds from sales will go to the nonprofit, Tuning in to Africa. This nonprofit will administer programs relating to music, communication, as well as peace concerns in Africa—beginning first with those projects that will benefit the workers who actually make the kalimbas at AMI. By giving credit in this tangible way for the most brilliant kalimbas to the people who actually make them, I now feel peace about moving forward with the Premium Kalimba program.

This sort of thing, two ideas that finally find their way to each other and fit together as if they were made for each other, with their union clearly improving the greater good—this is not proof of the existence of God. But it is proof that the universe has the potential, a propensity even, for good. In a way, it doesn't matter if God exists. If we live our lives as if God exists, trusting our lives to God's care and waiting for guidance from this Spirit of Love, we gain for ourselves, essentially, the same benefit as if God did exist. I can't prove to you that God exists, but the guidance and joy and light of God are real in my life just the same.

Stay tuned for my announcement of the first Premium Kalimbas to be offered for sale!

—Mark Holdaway, June 5, 2009

Alto Kalimba
Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba

Celebrating Father's Day Month with this Alto Kalimba Special

For the entire month of June we are honoring Father's Day with an Alto Kalimba special deal. The package includes the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba, the Alto Fundamentals Book, and Mark Holdaway's CD Two Thumbs Up—a $140 value for only $118. And if you would like us to include a special note for Dad, just provide that note in the Special Instructions field when you order from The Kalimba Magic Shop.

Why this kalimba for dad? Not only is it our most popular model of kalimba, but it also fits perfectly in the typical dad's large hands.

Learn more about the Alto Father's Day Special.

New Karimba Tuning

New Tuning for Karimba—Great for Blues & Roots Music

Last month, we pointed out that the major pentatonic scale has no 4th. Harmonically, the 4th is arguably the third most important note (right behind the root and the 5th). So, we invented a new tuning for the pentatonic kalimba that adds the 4th in the lower octave (i.e., right where you need it for buiding chords and chord progressions). The karimba has the same weakness—actually it does have the 4th, but only in the upper octave. As an important supporting chordal tone, it would be nice to have the 4th in the lower octave of the karimba.

There are two simple ways you can get a 4th in the lower octave:

  1. You could retune the tine to the left of the longest one from the 3rd to the 4th. With this option you have both the 4th and the 5th in the lower octave (as well as the upper octave, where you actually have two 5ths).
  2. The other way is to retune the tine to the right of the longest tine from the 5th to the 4th. This will remove the 5th from the lower octave, but it gives this instrument a very interesting twist: if you turn the 4th note, or D, into the root, this tuning becomes dynamite for blues and roots music, especially if you already have your kalimba in a minor tuning (i.e., you only have to retune one tine to go from a minor tuning to this +4th tuning).

Listen to the blues karimba in this +4th minor tuning.

The figure above shows the A minor tuning, but the low E has been tuned down a wholestep to a D, which is the 4th of A. If we recast the D as the root, then we have two lower notes, A and C, and A C D is a great blues riff that acts as a pickup, or an entrance to a higher blues riff. The rest of the notes make the Dorian Mode, a minor mode with a minor 3rd (F), a minor 7th (C), but a major 6th (B). Try it! You'll love it.


How to Play the Treble Kalimba: Updated & Expanded!

The Learn How pages on the Kalimba Magic website provide many useful references and links to aid the student of the kalimba. We are currently updating these pages, linking to the many new instructional materials and other resources that have cropped up in the last nine months of newsletters and tips. Last month we announced the updated and expanded How to Play the Alto Kalimba page. This month we have are pleased to announce the newly updated and expanded the How to Play the Treble Kalimba page. Check out the many new additions!


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