Student Karimba Book


The first book for learning the Student Karimba, which is the same as the lower row of the mbira nyunga nyunga or the lower row tines on the full karimba. 52 pages, CD included.

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The first book for learning the Student Karimba. Also works for the lower row tines on the full karimba. 52 pages, CD included.

The 8-Note Karimba is probably very close to the original Africa mbira as it was played 1300 years ago, according to the research of Dr Andrew Tracey. Based on several sources – A.M. Jones’ 1950 paper on the Lala Tribe’s kalimba in Northern Rhodesia, Hugh Tracey’s field recordings from around 1950, Andrew Tracey’s songs he learned from Yege Tapera, and Paul F. Berliner’s tabulated songs in The Soul of Mbira – we have deconstructed the music of the mbira nyunga nyunga and recast it into the form it may have taken over 1000 years on the primal karimba, which I refer to here as the Student Karimba.

These traditional African songs are too difficult for a true beginner to play, so we start out very simply, showing you the sorts of things your 8- or 9-note Student Karimba can do.

One of the simple things you can do if you have two plays is to learn kushaura and kutsinhira parts – each simple parts, but when played back separated by half a beat, they together form complex and interesting music. (This is a technique used on the mbira dzavadzimu that we have appropriated for use in this book – these examples are not traditional African songs.)

We do have the tablature for 16 traditional African tunes taken from our four sources. Some of these only have a single phrase – you will have to come up with the variations. The songs first notated by Paul F Berliner and Andrew Tracey have several different variations. Typically, one would play the basic part several times, then move on to playing the first variation several times, on down to the most complex variation, and then back again to end on the basic part. Each variation might take you ten or twenty minutes of playing to really get it to sink it, so learning four or five variations in a song, and getting good at the transitions from one variation to another, might take you quite a while. That is, even though this book is geared towards students, those could be rather high level students.

The book ends with four of my own karimba compositions.


Additional information

Weight 0.27000000 lbs
Dimensions 11 × 8.5 × 0.1 in


This song, performed on Goshen 9-Note Student Karimba, is in the book – alll variations included.


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. See answered questions.