I've been dreaming of these for a few years now. In Tucson, we've got a place called "Native Seed Search" that sells large gourds, and I've bought several, cut them open and cleaned them out, and I now use them as resonators for my Celeste kalimbas, TM Alto kalimba, or karimbas. The gourds really are stunning, as they increase the volume of the kalimba by a factor of three or four and add a nice bit of buzz to the sound. I find that I am able to compete with drums when I am playing a kalimba in a gourd.
The Shona people who invented the mbira use large gourds as mbira resonators, they are called deze. My own addition to the resonators is the guitar strap—with it, you can take the deze with you as you walk, stand, perform, march—you name it!
These African gourds were finished and painted by Mark Komsana, one of the kalimba makers at AMI (African Musical Instruments). Note that this is a nontraditional application, based on the traditional Shona deze, but specially sized for Hugh Tracey kalimbas. A Celeste or karimba fits great inside these gourds, but the Alto can also fit. This neo-traditional deze project will supplement Mark Komsana's income and help him provide for his growing family.
These painted deze designed for Hugh Tracey Kalimbas are the first fruits of our future nonprofit, Tuning in to Africa. I've only got six of them, and I know they will be going fast! These neo-traditional deze are available for a limited time for $160. These are a great kalimba accessory for the peforming kalimba player.
Kalimba bags are another initiative of Tuning in to Africa. They are made by Nontuthuzelo Blow in Grahamstown, South Africa, whom I do not know, but is a friend of Mark Komsana. They come beaded and come in three sizes: Alto, Treble, and Celeste (or Karimba). Each bag has a strap that will go over the shoulder, but these bags do not latch.
When I see a most beautiful sounding, feeling and looking Hugh Tracey kalimba, I set it aside. I used to just let these gems go to whomever fate would send them, but I would always make sure that these lucky people knew that their kalimba was special.
But I have been begun selecting these best kalimbas, refining them further and calling them Premium Kalimbas. I will be forwarding the proceeds of the sales of these very special instruments to my not-yet-existent nonprofit Tuning in to Africa. Stay tuned for my announcement very soon of the availability of the first Premium Kalimbas. Read more about my thought process on the Premium Kalimbas...
With this wonderful little kalimba, we now carry the complete collection of the Hokema kalimbas. We are now starting to wholesale the Hokema kalimbas and Sansulas in North America. If you run a music shop, contact me!
This kalimba has the same body as the pocket Sansula (which in turn has the same wood body as the other Sansulas, minus the frame drum). What makes this one unique is that the tines are wider. Very easy to play, very nice feeling. This is tuned to A minor pentatonic, which means that it works well with the A minor Sansulas. But the really striking thing is the low note, an E - a full minor 3rd below the lowest note on the Hugh Tracey Alto. This E is the lowest note that I have on any kalimba I sell. It is losing resonance by the time you get down to E, but you can nicely compensate by playing this instrument on a table, or even in a gourd. The Hokema 7-Note Pocket Kalimba is available for $71.
I have seen a few different makes of double kalimbas, held by two people facing each other and playing together, but the Goshen Mate Kalimba wins the prize. Made with beautiful paduak wood from Africa on a specially-shaped gourd, these beautiful instruments provide a special way for two people to connect.
One side has an 8-note kalimba, while the other side has an 11-note kalimba tuned to lower notes. I myself find these are easiest to play when tuned to A, which permits the 8-note side to cover the octave with A in the low note and the high note. Any of our 8-note kalimba educational resources will work for it. So, put the less experienced player on the 8-note side, and the more experienced player can play the 11-note side, providing support, bass notes, and chords to compliment what the 8-note kalimba is doing. Only a few of these kalimbas are available at this time for $125.
The Goshen 11 Note kalimba had been out of stock for many months, and we are happy to announce that we have several now. The Goshens are silky smooth, easy to play, beautiful to look at, and they sound wonderful too!
We have also replentished our supply of The Goshen 8 Note Kalimbas, a similar design to the 11-note, but with mahogany face wood instead of the African paduak of the 11-note.
Joel's CD Ndiro YeMidzimu is available. You may recall our interview with Joel Laviolette a few months ago. He is a most knowledgable guide to traditonal Zimbabwean music, he makes his own mbiras, and he writes music in the style of traditional Shona music.
By the way, one way I pray is by playing kalimba and opening my heart to God. My heart is illuminated and, in that light, I see how I can do things better. It is not at all a condemning experience, but it is like a gentle leading. The first song on Joel's mbira CD has these liner notes, which remind me of my own times of kalimba-accompanied prayer:
"...The spirit of my brother came to me. He showed me this song, and told me it was the song to play for his memory. If I look back closely, I can see there were things that I failed in as a brother. But we were young."
You can now purchase high quality spring steel, which can be cut and finished into kalimba tines for your own kalimba construction projects. The spring steel is $1 per foot. It is dark blue steel and has not been cut or plated. In comes in two widths: 5mm (similar to the Alto tine size) and 3mm (similar to the Treble tine size). Furthermore, the 5mm-wide tine material comes in two thicknesses. The less thick tine material is floppier and more appropriate for low notes, and Eric Freeman has already made some bass kalimbas with this material.
By the way, this stock comes from Lucinda Ellison—so it should make very good kalimbas.