Kalimba of the Month
The Primal Karimba

primal karimba
The Primal Karimba is tuned to Andrew Tracey's proposed
original tuning.

The pinnacle of African thumb piano evolution is the Mbira Dzavadzimu - the great mbira of the ancestral spirits. A traditional instrument that is a bit easier to play is the Mbira Nyunga Nyunga, also called the African-tuned Karimba. But at the heart of both of these instruments and many others in southeastern Africa are the notes of the 8-Note Primal Karimba (also called the Student Karimba).

The eight notes on this instrument are thought to reflect the very first metal-tined kalimbas which appeared in the Zambezi River Valley some 1300 years ago.


I invite you to listen to the African sound that this simple little 8-note instrument can put out!

If you are seeking a simple instrument with connections to ancient Africa, this is a good place to start. I have successfully worked with children as young as 5 years on the Student Karimba. On the other hand, it is a joy for me and other experienced players to play dual melodies on this instrument. It is a perfect introduction to the African-tuned Karimba, and it can also play along WITH the African-tuned Karimba.

When you purchase the Primal Karimba, we give you an instructional download which contains the basic variations for 9 traditional African tunes written for the karimba. These all have several variations that require the expanded 17-note instrument to play, but the basic parts of these tunes seem to have been written before the extra karimba notes were added and can be played on the 8 notes of the Primal Karimba. Here is the README file that comes with the download for the Primal Karimba (referred to in the text as the Student Karimba).

Also, this month we are sharing tips of the day for the Primal Karimba. Basically, I am sharing the lessons I'm giving to the kids in the Quaker First Day School this month. Later in the year, I plan to release this material and more in a book on playing the Primal Karimba.

If you are a teacher, consider getting one or more of these instruments for your class, as this is a tremendous way to celebrate Black History Month. This instrument and the traditional music you can play on it provide a direct link to the mind of ancient Africans, for whom you will develop deepest respect as you become acquainted with this instrument.

You can purchase the Eight Note Primal Karimba, along with the instructional download of traditional tunes at the Kalimba Magic Shop, and this month it is on sale for $40. This instrument and this download are available nowhere else but at Kalimba Magic.


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