30 September 2019

10 Most-viewed Blog Posts

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

A reprise of the past two years' "greatest hits" at Kalimba Magic

10 Most-viewed Blog Posts

I'm Mark Holdaway. founder and director of Kalimba Magic. About once a month, I write a newsletter delivering a brand new batch of blog posts concerning the kalimba and how to play it. Some of these posts will get a few thousand views - those are the ones I write for myself. Other posts receive over a hundred thousand views, and apparently those are the ones that I write for the rest of the world.

This is a collection of our 10 most-viewed Kalimba Magic posts. At least some of them will likely be useful to you.

 

66 Songs for the 17-Note Kalimba in C

66 Songs for the 17-Note Kalimba in C

Our most popular blog post is for a product that doesn't exactly exist. I already had a (poorly organized) ZIP file download for 66 Songs for the Hugh Tracey Treble kalimba, and when the 17-Note Chinese kalimbas started taking off, hundreds of people started buying the Treble download. However, as the Treble kalimba is in G, and the 17-Note Chinese kalimbas are in C, I had hundreds of disgruntled customers.

To fix this situation, I quickly translated the Treble songs in the download to the key of C so they would work for the Chinese 17-Note kalimbas. Despite the correctness of the songs' key, some customers still did not interact well with the ZIP file. So, to finally make it all right, I made two easy-to-use and convenient PDF downloads for the 17-Note Kalimba in C. These are: "44 Beginner Songs" and "33 Intermediate Songs."

You may ask yourself: "If it started out with 66 songs, how did it get split in half to make 44 + 33 songs = 77 songs?" That, my friend, is Kalimba Magic!

Read the full post...

You too can play

You too can play "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" in the style of "Acoustic Trench" on the Mbira Style Treble kalimba

This post gives away free kalimba tablature for playing the Elvis Presley song "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" on a 17-Note kalimba in the idiosyncratic tuning used by YouTube star "Acoustic Trench."

Read the full post...

Learn to Play

Learn to Play "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" on 17-Note Kalimba in C

This post gives away free kalimba tablature for playing the Elvis Presley song "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" on the 17-Note Kalimba in C.

Read the full post...

Is it Kalimba, Karimba, or Mbira?

Is it Kalimba, Karimba, or Mbira?

When discussing thumb pianos, people use the instrument names kalimba, karimba, mbira, mbira dzavadzimu, and mbira nyunga nyunga - sometimes with specific intent, and sometimes nearly interchangeably. Where are these different names from, and what do they mean?

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Avatar: the Last Airbender (Free Tablature)

Avatar: the Last Airbender (Free Tablature)

Many people born in the last couple of decades were first turned on to the sound of the kalimba by the animated TV series "Avatar: The Last Airbender." The kalimba was regularly featured in the sound track. The kalimba can really pull on your heartstrings in a sweet, simple way... a perfect accompaniment for animation! In this post we feature two different Youtube videos by people who acquired their kalimbas in order to learn how to play some of the kalimba music from "Avatar: the Last Airbender," one on the Hugh Tracey D Treble Kalimba, the other on the Goshen 11-note Kalimba. In addition, we're providing free tablature for these little songs, for a visual map of how to play them.

Read the full post...

Over the Rainbow (Free Tablature)

Over the Rainbow (Free Tablature)

"Over the Rainbow" is a beautiful song that every kalimba player should consider learning. There is one catch: the song requires a note that the kalimba is missing, when you get to "Where troubles melt like lemon drops, a-WAY a-BOVE the CHIM-ney TOPS". The words in ALL CAPS are on a pitch that most kalimbas will be missing, because it is out of the key. I show you how to work around that. Free tablature is available for the 17-Note Kalimba in C, the Treble kalimba, and the Chromatic Alto kalimba.

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Silent Night on Treble Kalimba  (Free Tablature)

Silent Night on Treble Kalimba (Free Tablature)

In my mind, most songs that you can play on the Treble kalimba are also possible to play on the Alto kalimba, and this offers great flexibility. But there are some songs that are written for Alto that require its low notes and are just not possible on the Treble which by nature is in a higher range. You could retune the Treble into a Bb Treble, and then it would behave just like an Alto with two extra notes. There is one (very famous) song that I don't think can be done properly on either the Alto kalimba or the Bb Treble kalimba - it requires the high notes of the Treble kalimba in standard G tuning, and that song is "Silent Night."

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Understanding Chords - on Alto Kalimba

Understanding Chords - on Alto Kalimba

The kalimba, with its unique bi-directional note layout, makes playing scales a bit difficult because you have to zig-zag your way up and down the tines, plucking first one on the right side, then one on the left, then the right, and working your way up or down the scale. The flip side of the difficult scales is the easy chords. What makes it hard to play scales makes it simple to play chords. Chords on kalimba are really easy. Compared with the guitar, every one of whose chords has a different geometrical shape, the kalimba is painless - all the chords have basically the same shape. The flip side: you only have these few chords. Which can actually be a blessing.

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Free Blank Tablature for Various Kalimbas

Free Blank Tablature for Various Kalimbas

In my own experience, when a real gem of a song comes to me on kalimba, I start out by NOT thinking much about it, just doing it, and repeating enough so that my body really knows it. Only then do I bring my mind on board to study what my thumbs have been doing. After I begin to think, I quickly notate the song in tablature so I can capture this gem of a song. Then I can play it any time in the future, no regret for being too lazy to catch a beautiful inspiration.

The point of this blog post: download the tablature PDF for YOUR kalimba, and you can write out your own songs in tablature!

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Retuning the Pentatonic Kalimba

Retuning the Pentatonic Kalimba

Why would anyone retune their kalimba? Well, I hope you DO tune up your kalimba every few weeks or so, at least to maintain its correct original tuning. However, once you learn the skills required to brush up the kalimba's tuning, you also possess the skills required to explore alternative tunings - you just need to push or pull the tines a bit farther than the very delicate moves required to fine-tune the kalimba. This post shows you how to retune to several useful alternative tunings for the 11-Note pentatonic kalimba.

Read the full post...

 

About the Author

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway

Mark Holdaway has been playing kalimba for over 30 years.  He invented his kalimba tablature in 2004, and has been writing books and instructional materials for kalimba ever since.  His business, Kalimba Magic, is based on the simple proposition that the kalimba is a real musical instrument capable of greatness.  Mark's kalimba books are a down payment on this proposition.

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