As part of a project to support culturally diverse families in need in Lower Manhattan, this year Kalimba Magic provided several Catania 8-Note kalimbas to a mother and daughter team, working to produce several ethnically authentic dolls.
The tuning of each kalimba was matched to the cultural identity of each doll. Some were tuned to the traditional African 8-note karimba tuning (thought to be the original mbira tuning from about 1300 years ago), others were tuned to the Middle Eastern tuning, and some were tuned to the Japanese ake bono tuning.
What a really creative way to reach out to this community, and I was very happy to be part of these efforts. (We also found a common bond through Brandeis University - my Physics PhD is from Brandeis (1990), and several students I taught at Dwight-Englewood High School in 1984/1985 ended up at Brandeis while I was there too.) Read the letter of thanks that Jennifer Caplan wrote to Kalimba Magic.
By retuning your 8-Note Kalimba, without leaving your home or even turning on a TV, you can imagine having been transported to a far away country, such as, Japan, Persia, the Middle East and Africa! Kalimba Magic has been offering the 8-Note kalimba in several different tunings for a few years now, but for Jennifer's project we put together special explanatory inserts for each tuning. Click on the tuning diagrams below to view the inserts (PDFs) that we put together for Jennifer and Naomi's doll project.
There are several different ways you could use these kalimbas in the world tunings. First, you could just get one kalimba and retune it yourself, changing tuning once a week and seeing how the different tunings change the music you play. (If you don't know how to retune, check out our tutorial on retuning your kalimba.)
Others, such as Kevin Spears, who is featured in this month's interview, prefer to put a kalimba in a certain tuning and keep it there. He (like me) has several different kalimbas, each tuned to a different scale or tuning.
By the way, if you have a project in mind that will require several different kalimbas, or if you want to cast a kalimba into another scale or tuning that I haven't mentioned, contact me and we'll see what we can work out!
My youngest daughter, Naomi, graduated from Brandeis University in 2007 and began working as a paralegal for a non-profit in Lower Manhattan a few blocks from Ground Zero. This firm had a contract with the Family Courts to provide both legal advocacy and assistance with social service programs to families in crisis in an innovative approach to sustain the viability of the family and keep children and parents together.
The first year of the program the principals and employees decided that instead of a holiday party for the staff, they would have a holiday event for their clients - the children who were the focus of their efforts. Donations were solicited from both businesses and private individuals, and the party was quite successful. Naomi and I contributed an assortment of fifteen 18 inch dolls with wardrobes and accessories for girls in the 5-8 year old range. The second year of the project we decided to do African American and Asian dolls and to bump up the educational aspect of the project. The Asian dolls came with complete wardobes of Japanese kimono, Chinese cheonsam, Vietnamese ao dai, Korean hanbok, fans, parasols, origami animals, Asian style geta or zori sandals, hair ornaments, etc.
This year we decided to do African/Caribbean dolls. We found a lovely multicultural doll and made complete wardobes from ethnically authentic or appropriate fabrics, and accessorized the outfits with custom ethnic doll jewelry, Fair Trade miniature zulu baskets, small djembe drums, and kalimbas from Kalimba Magic.
I got my first kalimba when I was in college and have appreciated the kalimba's soft and magical rhythms ever since. We also included one of Mark Holdaway's CDs so that each girl can hear the possibilities that live inside each kalimba, just like the beautiful potentials that live inside each girl! The kalimba epitomized the message we wanted to convey.
The staff was excited to receive this year's "doll project," and we are so happy to have a part in making the holidays really special for a very special group of girls. Thanks to Kalimba Magic for your "art" and for helping us to make the poetry of the kalimba available to these girls!