In This IssueWhat's New at Kalimba MagicThe Kalimba in Music TherapyThe Amadinda, a Traditional African MarimbaWonderful New Music on the 8-Note KalimbaInterview with Andrew Tracey, director emeritus of ILAMKalimba CommunityOur Visit to Grahamstown Hospice in Africa

Kalimba Community

Kalimbas on Tiles

Kalumba and Kinobe is a new website/organization that seeks spiritual healing and awakening through the playing of music, in part through playing the Akogo (an Ugandan Thumb Piano). Kinobe is an expert Akogo player, and he will be in Tucson, AZ in September and October for some instruction and playing.

Tips on Fingernail Care

Some kalimba player don't use their thumb nail, but many of us do. This Classical Guitar FAQ has some interesting tips for nail care - go down to sections A 2.3 and A 2.4.

Kalimba Classifieds

From Eric Freeman of Kalimba Sound System (
I wanted to mention also that I have an Andrew Masters Buzzer Bass (paid 230) for sale with a $70 contact mic on it. I would like to get $200 out of it if possible. Didn't know if anyone in the kalimba community would be interested. And I also still have the Large Schlagwerk Marimbula that I would like to sell. Just in case you knew of anyone looking...

Opalanga Pugh - Story Teller and Kalimba Player

Opalanga Pugh

One of my favorite things to do with the kalimba is to tell stories while I play. Hugh Tracey himself collected stories in his travels across Africa, and retold them on South African radio in the 1940s and 1950s, and many of those stories were collected on the book and CD, "The Lion on the Path", available from AMI and ILAM (OK, Kalimba Magic should carry these as well!). And I know many of you are also story tellers who already use the kalimba, or are looking for ways to use the kalimba as a different channel of information in your story telling.

I'd like to introduce you to Opalanga Pugh, story teller, kalimba player, and inspirational speaker.

And if you use kalimba playing in your storytelling, write me a note. I think we should have a Kalimba Magic article on kalimba playing in storytelling—we can all share our little secrets, and I bet we all learn a lot from each other! So, if you have a STORY to tell me, send me some e-mail!

NOMO Kalimba Group Scores Good Publicity on NPR

My father heard the interview with NOMO band leader Elliot Bergman on Sunday Weekend Edition last month.

NOMO plays African-based pop and funk music, and they use electric kalimbas of their own design. Here is an article on NOMO's kalimbas. If you have heard NOMO, please drop us a line to let us now what you thought of this interesting band.

A NOMO Kalimba
One of the electric kalimbas made by NOMO -

David Chapman's Paper on the Physics of the Kalimba

David Chapman ( gave a "lay paper" at an acoustical scientific meeting, and it is available online. This paper is not too difficult to get, I would guess that it will be accessible to most people reading this newsletter!

Kojo, a Kalimba Band

Kojo Band
Kojo is a kalimba-based band of (mostly) Sudanese refugees who have settled in Canada.

David Chapman also attended a "Kalimba Tuning Workshop" put on by the kalimba band Kojo. Writes David:

I was hoping the workshop would get into the tunings more. It was more of an "introduction". One of the band menbers had a HT Kalimba. They had also made a low-pitch instrument from scratch. They said that they used the metal from a leaf rake to get the sound they wanted. The also had a very old one, purported to be 400 years old. I am guessing this is hearsay, as there is no way to verify the origin of the instrument, which was found as a decoration on the wall of a house they visited somewhere.

The band has settled on a G tuning for performances, although the main singer said he actually would prefer C as it suited his voice more. I think they mentioned "pentatonic". I showed them my HT kalimba tuned to a G minor pentatonic scale. One of the musicians played it a bit and pronounced it "out of tune".

I met them after the show for a little discussion and swapped email addresses. I am hoping to persuade them to let me record and measure their instruments. They are from Sudan, and call the instrument "lokembe".

A Music Box Comb on the Kalimba?

If you have played kalimba much, you have undoudtedly thought of music boxes. Though I've never seen any evidence to support this idea, I would bet that the first European to make a mechanized music box had seen a kalimba from Africa.

Steven Hackley of Missouri got the cool idea to mount a music box comb on his kalimba. He pointed out that you can actually play the notes individually by plucking them with a paper clip. You can do a glissando with your thumbnail. Even if you do nothing, the notes on this comb vibrate sympathetically with the regular kalimba notes.

Music Box Comb on Kalimba
Steve Hackley mounted this music box comb on his kalimba.

Steve researched music box combs, and the relevant findings include: most combs are not general purpose chromatic combs, but are specially made for a particular song. It is easy to trade out combs (rather than the entire mounting mechanism shown in the photo). Most combs have multiple tines with the same note, to help play notes in quick succession. (By the way, I sometimes perform the William Tell Overture, alias the Lone Ranger theme, and the fast repeated notes in this song can be most easily played by tuning two tines, one on the left and the other on the right, to the same note.)

Kalimba Video

Click to go to Kalimba Magic

Top of page

To sign up to receive the monthly Kalimba Magic newsletter by email,
enter your email address below:
Newsletter Archives
Discover the world of kalimbas at
Shop for kalimbas and accessories at the Kalimba Shop