07 October 2016

What's New at Kalimba Magic?

Written by Mark Holdaway, Posted in News and Announcements

Two cool new Hokema Kalimbas, and blond wood Alto Kalimbas

What's New at Kalimba Magic?

We have two interesting new Hokema Kalimbas available: the Hokema Double Sansula, and the Hokema B11, an 11-note kalimba, similar to the Sansula, but in the key of G, and much more adept at making melodies.

We don't yet have video of these kalimbas, but we have some sound recordings within this article, so you can hear what special things they do.

New!  The Hokema B11

New! The Hokema B11 "Melody" Kalimba

The B11 "Melody" Kalimba, is made by the same people who make the Sansula, but is a much more capable instrument. It is in the key of G, which is generally useful, and has a range that goes from G3 (G below middle C) to A5 (two octaves and a whole step above the lowest note). The two-octave range is important. The lower octave is sparsely populated, which makes this good for accompaniment. The upper octave has every note in the G major scale, plus one more note in the high A, which means there are a lot of melodies you can play on this instrument.

Frankly, I am very impressed with it - after playing it for about 20 minutes, this

great B11 song popped out.

I have Terry Gross, host of the NPR program "Fresh Air", to thank for this, because her interview with Bruce Springsteen aired yesterday while I was working with this kalimba, and the song I created sounds to me a lot like it is from "Born to Run".


New!  The Hokema Double Sansula

New! The Hokema Double Sansula

The Hokema Double Sansula is an interesting kalimba for a number of reasons:

First, listen to

this sound recording of the Hokema Double Sansula.

Headphones are probably best. I am playing both of the Sansulas, but one is near the left microphone and the other is near the right microphone. This gives remarkably good separation in the sound recording, leading to a pretty trippy effect.

Second, because the body is pretty long and solid, this instrument has a very long sustain. Again, listen to the recording.

Third, if you have a friend who can play, then you can play duets. A very sweet pastime.

Fourth, as you may know, Kalimba Magic has been experimenting with Sansula tunings for almost 10 years. These two Sansulas don't need to be tuned to the same notes, we can tune them both to alternative tunings, or even to the same alternative tuning. There are several ways to work this: one person could play the instrument, going back and forth between the two different tunings or sides; two people could use the instrument in two different tunings, mainly taking turns with playing so as not to be dissonant; one or two people could play with the two sides of the instrument tuned the same way, either in the standard A minor tuning, or in one of the alternative tunings.

Right now, the default tuning option on the purchase page applies to both sides of the instrument - both sansulas will come in the same tuning. If you want the two sides to have different tunings, please request this in the COMMENTS field at the end of your transaction.


Now available: Blond or Part Blond Alto Kalimbas

Now available: Blond or Part Blond Alto Kalimbas

At this time, we have several Hugh Tracey Alto and Alto + PU kalimbas with blond face wood. Why would you want blond face wood? Some people like the understated and reserved look. Kalimbas come to us in a lot of variations of wood colors and grains. My favorites tend to be the ones with a bit of blond and mostly darker wood. Other people like a solid wood color, and still other folks ask for a kalimba with interesting wood grain.

The blond wood is the sap wood of the kiaat tree, and the brown is the heart wood. It is all the same wood. Kiaat wood is quite varied in appearance.

While we have these different wood colors and patterns available, you can request one of these different variations on Hugh Tracey Alto or Alto + PU kalimbas by selecting one of them in the "Want Blond Wood?" option menu.

Oh, and why would someone want a kalimba with blond face wood? For me, it is not about how the kalimba looks, but how it sounds. One of my very favorite kalimbas has blond face wood. The blond wood tends to be less dense than the darker wood, and it has a brighter tone, and can be louder and more piercing over other instruments, which is not a bad thing to have in a kalimba.


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.