News and Announcements

12 May 2020

Tablature for Payphone on the 17-Note C Kalimba

Posted in News and Announcements

This is a great song to play on the kalimba

Tablature for Payphone on the 17-Note C Kalimba

I long thought that the best music was created in the 1960s, and some in the 1970s.

However, I am now of the belief that the pop music of the last 10 years is as good as its ever been. So I am starting to learn some of these modern pop songs on kalimba, and you, dear reader, will be the beneficiary of these pop songs.

Enjoy this arrangement of the Maroon 5 song "Payphone".

12 May 2020

The Kalimba Doctors

Posted in News and Announcements

Do you have a tired old kalimba that doesn't ring true? We can help

The Kalimba Doctors

The most important thing you can do to keep your kalimba sounding good is to keep it in tune. The second most important thing you can do is to fix any buzzing tines.

We give you the resources you need to do these kalimba maintenance items yourself - click through to see the links.

If you are unable to accomplish the tuning and fixing yourself, let me introduce you to The Kalimba Doctors: Mark Holdaway, and Mike Ankomeus. Together, we will do our best to improve your old kalimba in about a dozen different ways.

12 May 2020

Kiaat Wood - the wood of the Hugh Tracey kalimba since 1954

Posted in News and Announcements

What makes African kiaat wood so great?

Kiaat Wood - the wood of the Hugh Tracey kalimba since 1954

In the 1950s, Hugh Tracey made prototype kalimbas from dozens of different types of African hard woods. In the end, he chose Kiaat for the wood for his new invention, the Hugh Tracey Kalimba. Even though it was a new-fangled instrument, it reflected many design choices from traditional instruments, and the Kiaat wood choice was one of those, as many traditional kalimbas were made from Kiaat wood.

And today, in 2020 - or 66 years later for the math challenged among us - the Hugh Tracey Kalimba is still made from Kiaat African hardwood.

What makes kiaat so special?

29 April 2020

The Original 1968 Hugh Tracey Kalimba Manual

Posted in News and Announcements

The Full Historical Document in PDF, Free To You

The Original 1968 Hugh Tracey Kalimba Manual

When Hugh Tracey made his new kalimbas back in 1954, there were only a few people in the world who could play this non-traditional African instrument.

But what about people in Africa? Didn't they too play kalimba? They did, but they played instruments with other designs, other setups, and other tunings. The Hugh Tracey Kalimba was a new instrument in the kalimba family, ideally suited to playing western music.

Hugh's eldest son Andrew Tracey went to Oxford to study music so he could write a manual for the Hugh Tracey kalimbas. This old 1968 manual is hard to find, so I scanned it and make it available to you (with AMI permission, of course).

08 April 2020

The Kalimba History Video

Posted in News and Announcements

The Prime Lesson:
The Kalimba Comes From Africa

The Kalimba History Video

I recently got this message in my Facebook feed:

"Hey man, I just wanted to say thank you for your research regarding the kalimba. I came across it randomly and thought it originated in Asia, but boy was I wrong! Thank you for showing us where its true roots lie."

Yes, so many kalimbas are made in China that the African roots of the instrument are becoming obscured. I have a really cool video I made that explains some of the important parts of the kalimba's story in Africa.

12 May 2020

Stango and Nongoma - Music from Zimbabwe

Posted in News and Announcements

If you have an F-15 Karimba (Nyunga Nyunga) you can play along with them

Stango and Nongoma - Music from Zimbabwe

In 1960, Andrew Tracey discovered the karimba player Jega Tapera in the township surrounding Bullawayo (then Rhodesia). Jega Tapera taught Dumisani Maraire to play karimba... which he renamed mbira nyunga nyunga. And Dumisani taught his daughter Chiwoniso to play mbira nyunga nyunga.

Jega, Dumi, and Chiwoniso are all gone.

But now, there is Stango and Nongoma!

If you are looking for inspiration for your karimba or nyunga nyunga playing, check out their music!

08 April 2020

Kalimba Magic and Coronavirus

Posted in News and Announcements

We are open for business and we are practicing social isolation, hand cleaning, and more

Kalimba Magic and Coronavirus

Welcome to the new world. While I don't know exactly what that means, I can do my best to reassure you that what we ship to you is safe and will not get you sick. This is important for all of us. Read more to find out what we are doing to keep ourselves - and YOU - safe!

 

01 April 2020

The Attitude of Gratitude

Posted in News and Announcements

Thank you to the world for this opportunity to keep on serving you

The Attitude of Gratitude

When life slaps you in the face, what do you do?

You get to decide. It is all up to you. But if you keep walking with an attitude of gratitude for the things that still work, for the sun that shines warm on your face, the wind that cools you down, the rain that waters the plants, the stars that shine at night, and the song that plays on in your heart - you'll have a much better time of it.

I am able to give a huge shout of "THANK YOU" to the kalimba community for my job of sailing this ship called Kalimba Magic. Thank you for trusting me at this time.

08 April 2020

Creativity and Kalimba Tunings

Posted in News and Announcements

Creativity and Kalimba Tunings

 Most people who play kalimba quickly discover a set of musical tricks that are easy to do and sound good... but sometimes, they get stuck in a rut and don't really know what else to do. To get out of the rut, they could get a new kalimba with a different number of tines or a different note layout, as the new kalimba would provide new vistas and new opportunities for creativity. Most people who play kalimba for more than a few years will end up getting multiple kalimbas. 

However, there is an easier way to get the feeling of a new kalimba, without paying for anything: have you considered trying a brand new tuning on your kalimba?

New tunings can loosen up your conception of the kalimba and help you be more creative. We present alternative tunings for: 17-Note Kalimba in C, Alto Kalimba, Sansulas, African tuned Karimba, and 8-Note and 10-Note Kalimbas.

03 April 2020

Precious Family Time Together: Kalimba Duets

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Here is a great activity - and an ebook - for homebound kids and parents

Precious Family Time Together: Kalimba Duets

Now is a chance for many people around the world to do some home-schooling. Kids are loving the time and parental attention combined with the freedom of being home instead of at school. What a great time to do kalimba with them! 

This is an opportunity for precious one-on-one time with your kids... or with your parents! This is a time to make something beautiful together.

And I can recommend two kalimbas (see the image above) that go great together, and they come with an ebook of duets written just for them!

08 April 2020

Build Yourself Up

Posted in News and Announcements

We are very rich in time just now - what will we do with it?

Build Yourself Up

This particular moment is a fantastic time to pick up the kalimba. It attracts you into the NOW and invites you to focus in as deeply as you can.

And when the world looks as it does right now, with fear and uncertainty, having something that you CAN do to create beauty and an aura of peace gives you a confidence-boosting sense of control over your life.

08 April 2020

New Cases for B9 and B11 Hokema Kalimbas

Posted in News and Announcements

These are great, sturdy, form fitting cases for the B9 and B11 kalimbas

New Cases for B9 and B11 Hokema Kalimbas

The kalimba is a care free instrument. Its size and portability make it a great instrument to travel with. However, the kalimba tines require protection when you travel, or else they will tend to get pulled and pushed out of tune.

If you want to travel safely with your Hokema B9 or B11 kalimba, check out these carrying cases made specifically for these instruments.

08 April 2020

John Burns is Having the Time of His Life

Posted in News and Announcements

Playing Sansula and Native American Flute at 86, he is at a peak of his musical career

John Burns is Having the Time of His Life

At the age of 86, John Burns of Melbourne, Australia is having the time of his life, playing meditative music on the Native American Flute and the Sansula. He started playing tuba in high school, then a rare chording harmonica. He continues his exploration of arpeggiated chords, now on the Sansula.

John brings the sensitivity and spirituality of the Native American Flute to his Sansula playing, and he touches the hearts of the people for whom he plays.

19 February 2020

EZ Numbers-Based eBook for Almost Any Kalimba

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

If you have been frustrated with learning kalimba, try starting here

EZ Numbers-Based eBook for Almost Any Kalimba

Kalimba tablature, invented by yours truly in 2004, reflects my internal conceptualization of the kalimba and how it is played. My gift to the kalimba world, this tablature can be used to learn how to play, to transmit any sort of music to others, as well as an easy and elegant aid in composing new music.

But not everyone likes my vertical tablature.

If you're new to kalimba tablature and find it overwhelming, you might want to first try the numbers-based approach to learning how to play. A simple, "play by the numbers" method, it references the degrees of the scale and is a valid approach to understanding music.

This is a perfect place for children to start playing kalimba - or for anyone without musical experience who want to start very simply.

17 February 2020

Why is the Kalimba Such a great instrument to play?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

There are so many reasons to love it!

Why is the Kalimba Such a great instrument to play?

I have been playing music since I was 8 years old – for almost 50 years. I did not discover the kalimba until I was 24 – about 34 years ago. I have played many different instruments, and though I love many of them, the kalimba is my favorite. It is the instrument that I have become most recognized for, and it is also the instrument that I make my living through.

What are my reasons for loving playing the kalimba so much?

The first reason why I love playing kalimba: It helps you see and understand music in a completely different way from any other instrument. The unique note layout of the kalimba requires that you understand it physically more than mentally. You learn what sort of thumb dancing you need to do to accomplish a certain song. In a totally unique way, playing kalimba really puts your consciousness into your body.

 

16 February 2020

Is The Hugh Tracey Kalimba Worth The Price?

Posted in News and Announcements

"yes!" is the verdict of Kalimbacam's glowing YouTube review of the Hugh Tracey Alto Kalimba

Is The Hugh Tracey Kalimba Worth The Price?

For the last two years, people have been asking me in emails: "So, is the Hugh Tracey kalimba really worth it? I can get a 17-note kalimba made in China for much less."

Of my own personal kalimbas, 8 out of the 10 that I commonly use for performances are Hugh Tracey instruments. Obviously, it's clear to me that if you are at the performance level, the Hugh Tracey kalimba is worth it.

But I have to admit that I was quite pleased to hear KalimbaCam come out with a solid "Yes!" to the Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba in his review on YouTube.

16 February 2020

Stuck on How a Song in an eBook Should Sound? Listen to it!

Posted in News and Announcements

All songs in our downloads and books come with sound files, and here's exactly how to access them

Stuck on How a Song in an eBook Should Sound? Listen to it!

This morning, as I was playing kalimba and walking along the Tanque Verde wash, I answered a call from a customer who had bought the "44 Beginner Songs" ebook for the 17-Note Kalimba in C. She was so excited about progressing with the kalimba, her first musical success ever! She could read the tablature... but she said she didn't play any of the songs that she wasn't already very familiar with.

I quizzed her: "You do know that the ebook comes with sound files for each song, right?"

She did know that they were available, but didn't know how to access them. And I realized that if she didn't know how to get the sound files, there are very likely other people who need help. That help is here!

 

15 February 2020

Free Tablature for "Music Box Dancer"

Posted in News and Announcements

This is such an obvious song to perform on the kalimba!

Free Tablature for

A large part of what makes the kalimba such a magical instrument is the nostalgia it creates when you play it. Not always, but often the kalimba will sound like a tiny little music box. You can play that up, by learning some of the famous songs from music boxes: "A Time For Us," "Over the Rainbow," or "Fur Elise."

And an obvious song to add to that list would be Frank Mills' "Music Box Dancer" - which in my mind was a song that was created to play upon that same nostalgia.

18 December 2019

Free Tablature for "Silverbells"

Posted in News and Announcements

This song is perfect for the Hugh Tracey Treble Kalimba

Free Tablature for

The holiday classic "Silverbells" turns out to be the perfect song to showcase the Hugh Tracey Treble kalimba.

Why, you might ask? Because the song "Silverbells" dips down to the 3rd of the scale, but no lower. In the opening line, "City sidewalks," the word "walks" goes down to the 3rd. Also, the refrain "Silverbells" starts on the 3rd and goes up.

It seems that "Silverbells" was made just for this kalimba! But even if you have a different kalimba, you will still be able to use this tablature.

20 December 2019

B11 Kalimba Video

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Multi-mode music from my book "Exploring the Hokema B11 Kalimba"

B11 Kalimba Video

When you start playing your kalimba, on which note do you start? Most people think the low(est) note is where they should start - and they tend to play their kalimba in that key. However, you can play your kalimba emphasizing other notes, and not only do you play in a different "key" in each case, but you will also play with a different scale or mode... and each scale gives your kalimba playing a different flavor.

If you have a B11 kalimba, watch this video of B11 multi-mode music. you can learn these "tricks" and understand how to play this way yourself.

And even if you don't have the B11 kalimba, this lesson can be applied to other kalimbas! Check it out!

12 January 2019

Why Kalimba Tablature?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

And what about staff notation for a kalimba?

Why Kalimba Tablature?

Recently, Lilly wrote to Kalimba Magic:

"I am experienced with reading standard staff musical notation, and I don't really like the kalimba tablature, and I don't understand why you use it. Can I just read staff notation with my kalimba? Please give me the main advantage to using tablature to notate kalimba music."

Yes, Lilly, I think there are some really big advantages to using kalimba tablature rather than staff notation. Consider kalimba tablature to be my chosen way of expressing my 33 years of kalimba-playing experience to you. It is a doorway to my kalimba-playing thought process.

05 February 2019

Why Get an African-Tuned Karimba?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Its amazing music puts you in the headspace of Ancient Africa

Why Get an African-Tuned Karimba?

One of the most important things I can say about the kalimba (including the karimba and mbira) is that the understanding of how to play these instruments comes to dwell in my thumbs, while the interpretation of the music into phrases or pulses takes place in my ear or my head.

The brain's frontal cortex is where we slowly puzzle out the music when we're first starting to learn it.  But once we get rolling, it is a different, more primitive part of the brain that is making the music happen - I am guessing it is the cerebellum, which deals with motor control and procedural learning - and that would include learning and playing karimba music. And that is why we can think and talk about something entirely different while we tie our shoes or brush our teeth.

When I play karimba, it feels as if my body is in tune with the ancient Africans when they played similar music, and that my thumbs come to know the way, all on their own.

08 February 2019

Resources For the 17-Note Kalimba in C

Posted in News and Announcements

Everything we have that will work for your 17-Note Kalimba in C

Resources For the 17-Note Kalimba in C

I have recently written some great eBooks for this kalimba. These books use kalimba tablature, which is easy to read and very expressive. In addition to tablature and recordings for each song, these eBooks offer insights into how to read the tablature, how to tune, the kalimba's history, how to accomplish the various moves you need to make on your kalimba, and more. Everything you need to have a wonderful kalimba ride!

Says one recent customer, after she purchased our instructional downloads:

"Mark, I am already practicing the songs and love it. I’ve never played anything in my life and now at almost 70, I am living a dream! Thanks to you."

23 June 2019

Beautiful Quilted Kalimba Bags from Africa

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

These are made by Louise Sloman-Fuller, now retired from AMI (African Musical Instruments) in South Africa

Beautiful Quilted Kalimba Bags from Africa

There are now several options out there for kalimba bags and kalimba cases. If you are looking for something really special, check out these quilted bags from Louise Fuller-Sloman. They are charming. I own two of them myself, and I am guessing there are a few of them that you would love too.

 

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