Whats New at Kalimba Magic
Kalimba Tour 2008 Update
Kiaat Wood - the wood of the Hugh Tracey Kalimba
Kalimba Workshops, Spring of 2008 in Indiana and Florida
Kalimba Programs Available in Southern Arizona
New Kalimba Retailers
If you look near the top of the Kalimba Magic home page, you'll see a thin banner that will help you hear kalimba music. You should expect to see different kalimba tunes there from time to time. However, you need to click on it to make music happen. The question I put to you is this: should I have autoplay ON (ie, so it plays automatically when you go to Kalimba Magic), or autoplay OFF (as it is now)? If you have an opinion on this matter, contact me and let me know. By the way, this is an open source XPSF music player. To find out find out more, you can download musicplayer at sourceforge.
I've gone round and round with this. As a person who has been in significant credit card debt in the past, I've thought that letting people pay for kalimbas with credit cards was potentially dangerous. In the end, I've come down on the side of convenience - convenience for you, the kalimba customer. Gone are the days when I needed to have a personal interaction with roughly half of my customers, letting them know that they could send a check, and usually exchanging half a dozen emails. Some of those exchanges blossomed into genuine friendships as the emails kept on flying well beyond the arrival of the kalimba.
So, while it is now easier for you to pay for your kalimba at Kalimba Magic, don't let that get in the way of you firing off an email to ask me a question or to send me a comment. Because at Kalimba Magic, we are cutting edge kalimba experts, and we are doing everything we can to share that expertise with you, the kalimba players of the world. On the other hand, we've gotten a fair bit of our kalimba knowledge from other kalimba players out there, so if you have figured something out that you would like to share with the world, fire away! Your ideas can end up as a new tuning, a new kind of kalimba, or a Tip of the Day. But remember - purchase responsibly. There are those people who really GET the kalimba, and they will end up getting several kalimbas. The various kalimbas will wait for you until you can afford them.
The Tip of the Day has been going out on the web pretty consistently every Monday through Friday for over a year now! Each day has a different topic, and when everything is going well, each day tells its own story. Monday's tip is for mind/body/spirit things - ie, even a scientist like me understands that the kalimba is more than meets the eye. Here you can read my musings on what really IS going on when you play the kalimba. Tuesday's tip is an elementary instructional kalimba tip. Right now, we are going through how to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with about 10 different ways of embellishing. OK, you don't really want to play Twinkle, but on the other hand, you can apply these same techniques to playing the songs you really do want to play. Wednesday's tip is an advanced tip, and lately I've been covering some aspects of recording the kalimba which will be helpful to the aspiring studio musicians out there. Thursday's tip is for the "featured kalimba". In the past, we have featured the karimba, the pentatonic kalimba, the treblito, the 8-Note kalimba, and now we are featuring the Sansula, an exotic and beautiful German-made kalimba with a twist. And Friday's tip deals with the math and science of the kalimba. This is appropriate for someone who has taken a high school physics class, though we try to stay away from the heavy math. We focus on a rather intuitive understanding.
And here's a tip just for YOU - the Tips are all archived, so if you missed the Karimba tips and you just bought a karimba, go to the bottom of the page on the Thursday tips and you can find all of the past tips for the featured kalimba. This is just one of the things that has made www.KalimbaMagic.com the best kalimba site in the world!
Every few weeks, I send out an email that lets you know what the Tips of the Day have been lately. If you would like to be on the Tips mailing list, contact me.
At Kalimba Magic, we have pioneered the use of tablature to convey kalimba knowledge. We have provided sound recordings for instruction. We are the world's leader in kalimba instructional books. And using KTabS software for windows computers, we have pioneered remote kalimba lessons tailored to the needs of each student.
But today we take a great leap forward in kalimba instruction: we present Kalimba Video. Click on the image below and watch me play the first song I wrote on the kalimba, First Look Inside.
If you like this song, it is available on my 2000 CD release Two Thumbs Up. In fact, I liked it so much that I have two different versions on the CD - a solo version (much like this one), and a full band version.
But I digress. The real point of this video is that now I am working on mastering the pathway of getting video onto the computer. This means that you can expect video in upcoming Tips of the Day, and somewhere down the line, you will be able to purchase a DVD or Video CD filled with kalimba instruction video. Yes, you will be able to see just how grungy my couch is, how much my knees jump up and down while I play, and also you will be able to discover for yourself the secrets of playing wonderful kalimba music without sitting on my couch.
This month, we are assembling a promotional package for kalimba players who wish to be part of Kalimba Nation 2008, the US Kalimba Tour. While you and I know just how amazing the kalimba is, most people in the USA, amd most people in the world, don't yet. You and I can change that. We will be pitching Kalimba Nation to music festivals for spring, summer, and fall of 2008. So far, several folks have expressed interest in participating. They are listed below along with the region in which they would be most likely to participate:
However, I still need (a) a great digital photograph of you (1000 pixels across would be great - I can always downsize it for the web); (b) a short 50-word description of your kalimba music, and a 300-word biography; and most important, a lively example of your kalimba playing in MP3 or WAV form. A number of us do the multi-track thing for our CDs, but I really think we should concentrate on presenting tracks that we will actually be able to pull off live. SO, if you use a looping station, thats cool at many festivals, so go ahead and submit that. But if you can't reproduce a complex tune, I don't think we should use that to get the performance slot.
If you would like to be part of the Kalimba Nation 2008 tour, or if I neglected to note your info, please contact me and get me your info ASAP!
The darker kiaat wood is the heart wood, while the light colored kiaat wood is the sap wood.
As far as I know, the only kalimba on the market made from kiaat (also spelled kiatt) wood is the Hugh Tracey Kalimba. Hugh Tracey made something like 100 prototypes of the kalimba before he started selling them internationally in the late 1950's. The various prototypes investigated many different aspects of the instrument and the sound it made, and many of the prototypes were made from different types of native African hardwoods. A few were even made from steel (wow, wouldn't those be collectors' items!). In the end, Hugh chose kiaat hardwood from Mozambique, largely because of the beatiful sound the kiaat kalimbas produce. Of course, the facts that it is quite beautiful and has a wide variety of appearances doesn't hurt. And the fledgling African Musical Instruments company could get the short boards for making kalimbas for next to nothing - you see, people made fine furniture from kiaat wood, and they had lots of scraps left over which just happened to be about the size of a kalimba. (AMI makes enough kalimbas now that they are buying longer boards.)
The heart wood is a deep redish brown, and the outer sap wood is very light in color - blond or even off white. The sap wood ends up being significantly less dense than the heart wood. The workers at AMI who cut the wood often try to get a corner or a strip of wood with the blond sap wood. On the other hand, I have a treble kalimba from the 1960's which is made almost completely of blond wood. And my friend Glen Davis has a box pentatonic kalimba which has the deepest darkest kiaat wood I have ever seen. Some of the most beautiful kalimbas have streaks of red mixed in with the heart wood. The grain varies from straight to curly, and the wood sometimes has secondary highlight patterns that interact with the grain. So, when you order a Hugh Tracey kalimba, you never quite know what its going to look like. Some people ask for a dark kalimba, or one with pretty grain, or one with red highlights.
Here is a nice web page on the kiaat tree itself and some uses for the wood. Interestingly, this link was sent to me by one of my customers who has hemophelia - he pointed out that this article states that kiaat wood is "believed to have magical properties for the curing of problems concerning blood".
Kiaat wood is also called muninga, which comes in many varied and beautiful forms.
Here are several beautiful photos of kiaat wood.
Here is the "Smooth Talker" guitar, made in part from kiaat wood.
A carpenter's resource tells you about working kiaat.
Here is some good technical information on the kiaat trees and the kiaat wood.
Kiaat trees are not endangered, and are rather plentiful in wooded savanah in southern Africa. And kiaat wood has traditions - the tradition of the wood of the Hugh Tracey kalimba, but also traditions of Africa. So, next time you read about "Rosewood Kalimbas" (ie, those knock-off kalimbas made somewhere far away from Africa), you can have a knowing smile that YOUR kalimba was made in Africa from a beautiful and resonant African hardwood: kiaat!
Mark Holdaway is providing musical, cultural, historical, and scientific programs centered on the kalimba. These programs can be tailored to any group, but we are focusing on students grades K-12 and adult groups and elder care facilities. You can look at the flier for the student programs or a more complete description of our school programs. Currently, we have a flier for the adult group and elder care programs, but we are lacking the complete description web page.
I had many responses to "Kalimba Players for Peace" - including one from a criminologist who supports the war (while I would rather have a world where such people are not required, I am glad there are such people studying and understanding such things). I had another response from someone who disagreed with almost everything I wrote, and yet we are still friends - what a blessing that we have free speech in this country, that we can speak out and disagree, and yet respect each other and each other's opinions.
After this nod to my dissentors, I note that most of us who are against the war are still sitting on the sidelines. What can we do?
Many folks enjoyed the interview with Patti Broussard, and some were downright amazed by her growing ability on the Array Mbira. If you would like to see more, check out 10 seconds of the fastest Array Mbira music you'll see for a while, the Charlie Brown Theme, and very sweet arrangement of Mr. Bojangles. Patti speaks of dancing on the tines with her fingers. I think she veritably gallops on this one!
Mark Holdaway is doing a kalimba-centric performance at Javalina's Coffee House, 7:30 pm Friday August 10, 9136 E. Valencia, southeast of Tucson, AZ. He will present a number of acoustic kalimba songs, including several new ones, and some experimental effects-laden looping on the new electric kalimbas. So, expect something between Mark just pulling it off and Mark blowing your mind.
At halftime, Mark will have kalimbas, kalimba books, and CDs available for sale. Your $5 door donation can be applied to your kalimba, book, or CD purchase.
By the way, with the 3 hour time difference, Mark in Tucson and Bryan Noll in NYC will both be looping and effecting at the PRECISE SAME TIME - so look out for some strange tidal effects, techtonic plate warping, or other temporary space-time deformations. Who is Bryan Noll? Read on!
Bryan Noll is an atmospheric musician who uses looping and electronics on his guitar and kalimba to create meditative music for yoga. He has put his music onto CD and is having a CD release party. Listen to Bryan's kalimba playing. If you would like to hear more from Bryan:
TIMES OF CLOUDS AND SUN
cd release @ laughing lotus yoga
Friday, August 10th
10:00p - MIDNIGHT
@ LAUGHING LOTUS YOGA
On fridays there is a midnight class, and live musicians help set the mood while everybody gets their yoga on.
The week of August 10th is hosted by mary dana featuring bryannoll on laptop + guitar + kalimba. For more information, link to http://timesofcloudsandsun.com.
laughing lotus yoga
59 west 19th street
@ 6th ave, 3rd floor
Something amazing is happening in the world: alternative musicians of all stripes are starting to experiment and explore with the kalimba. Such as Richard Scott in Germany. No kalimba music YET on his released atmospheric music, but you can imagine some of the places it will go.
Here is a kalimba used in an opera/dance from Daniel Ciaxo in Brazil. (By the way, Daniel's kalimba has a bit of a buzz. Some people, such as Gregorio McCluer, cultivate the buzz to get a more authentic African sound. But there are many people who still don't know how to fix the buzz. Of course, it is very easy to fix.)
A tip from kalimba enthusiast Diane Kunz:
"Mark - Well, it's here!!! Arrived about an hour ago and I LOVE IT!!!! Because I know music and intervals well, I was able to pick it right up and play several songs without the book. And I discovered something wild. I went around the house looking for a resonator to set it on (like a bowl, etc) and found several things that worked BUT --- get this!! -- the best thing I found was the box it came in! It about doubles the sound output when I lay the kalimba on the box. It's amazing. Have you ever tried that??"
And a tip for those of you trying to use
but can't hear any audio:
towards the right of the upper row of icon/buttons, find the "MIDI" button. If you click it, you get a dialogue box in which you can set the MIDI Device and the MIDI Instrument. Most important is the MIDI Device. KTabS querries your computer to determine the valid MIDI Devices, but not all of them will work properly with KTabS. For example, on my computer, I've got six different MIDI devices, but only three of them work with KTabS, and some sound better than others. I use Microsoft MIDI Mapper. Also, you can select the general MIDI instrument to use for the sound of the kalimba. Kalimba is actually a general MIDI sound, instrument number 109. But the different MIDI devices render the kalimba sound differently. So if you don't like the sound of the KTabS virtual kalimba, try the different possibilities. I find these instruments worth checking out: 109 Kalimba, 9 Celesta, 11 Music Box, 12 Vibraphone, 13 Marimba, 14 Xylophone. But feel free to see what the other sounds are like - I actually like 38 Slap Bass 2 pretty well, but it doesn't exactly sound like a kalimba.
2300 W. Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
Florida Folk Music
800 South Nova Road, Suite M
Ormond Beach, FL 32174
Both of these music retailers appear to me to be high quality organizations that are interested in the music primarily. In addition, they both have made rather diverse orders, so if you are interested in seeing what some of the more exotic kalimbas are like and you live in Illinois or Florida, I encourage you to come down and test out the kalimbas yourself.
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