Questions about KTabS

What is KTabS?

What is KTabS?

KTabS – shorthand for Kalimba Tablature Software, a program written for the PC by Randy and Sharon Eaton that helps you write your own kalimba tablature. The program also plays tablature, both visually and through your computer's speakers. That is, KTabS creates tablature and animates it, bringing it to life on your computer. KTabS is flexible in that it can create tablature for kalimbas with any number of tines, tuned to any notes. You even have control over which tines are painted, and what color they are painted. The screen can look exactly like your individual kalimba.

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What does KTabS look like?

Marius Costea is a pretty high level user of KTabS. Here is a YouTube video made by Marius showing the KTabS program run for the song Mad World which he notated himself:

If I am trying to learn a song that just seems to be beyond me, KTabS can be very helpful. I notate it into KTabS in slow motion (slow because the notes are entered one at a time), and then I learn to play the piece from the KTabS file. After you have notated a song in KTabS, have the program play it back so you can hear what you entered, and any errors will jump right out.

On which computers does KTabS run?

Computers running Windows 98 or more recent, with a MIDI sound card. Currently, KTabS does not run on the Mac without an additional supporting tool called Darwine. Read instructions for using Darwine to run KTabS on the Mac. At this time, KTabS does not run on Windows 10, but we are seeing what we can do about this.

Where can I get KTabS?

You can buy your own copy of KTabS for $30, or the KTabS Reader for free, and you can download the trial version of the KTabS software here.

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What is the KTabS Reader?

The KTabS reader permits you to play existing KTabS-format songs on your computer, both visually and through your computer's speakers, but does not permit you to edit that song or to create new songs. The KTabS reader is available for free download.

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Where can I get KTabS-format songs to play with the KTabS reader or the Full KTabS program?

Currently, there are three places: free KTabS songs are available from Kalimba Magic's Tip of the Day pages and from the KTabS community (register at KTabS and then go to the MyKTabS page). Most of the Kalimba Magic instructional downloads include the KTabS files in addition to PDF files of the non-animated tablature, and often MP3 files.

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What is a KPack?

A KPack is a bundle of songs or exercises written out in KTabS format. Currently, KTabS has KPacks for $5 that match the following Kalimba Magic Books: the Alto Fundamentals Book, the Treble Fundamentals Book, the 8-Note Book, the Christmas Book (in both Alto and Treble versions), and Playing the Pentatonic Kalimba. In addition, Classical Alto and Classical Treble KPacks are available for $10 each.

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Tutorial for Writing O Danny Boy in KTabS

The KTabS program is a great tool for learning to play the songs I have arranged, but another use you should consider is writing or arranging your own music. In the video below, I show you exactly how I notated the song O Danny Boy, which I already knew how to play, so there is not a lot of trial and error in this one.

And here I am performing O Danny Boy on the Bb Treble Kalimba:

Get the Free Tablature for O Danny Boy:

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How are KTabS and Kalimba Magic related?

Kalimba Magic is a business run by Mark Holdaway, who writes kalimba instructional books, records kalimba CD's, and sells Hugh Tracey and other Kalimbas. KTabS is a project run by Randy and Sharon Eaton, who wrote the KTabS software. They are independent entities (you can't buy Mark's books from the KTabS site, and you can't buy KTabS from the Kalimba Magic site), but they are collaborating to provide the kalimba community with the best kalimba music available.

Hints on using KTabS

Please explore this set of nine articles from the Newsletter Archive on using KTabS:

There is good documentation at KTabS.

If you are using KTabS to teach you to play kalimba, you may want to edit the tempo to slow the song down to make it easier for you to play along. (This requires the Full KTabS Software as the KTabS reader has no editing capabilities)

If you want to really get in the groove, you can set the number of repeats to 10 or 20, going over and over the song without interruption.

If you are having trouble with a certain phrase, you can insert repeat signs at the start and end of the phrase to make that section repeat over and over.

I like setting KTabS to play some music, and then while the computer plays that, I invent some other part to play along. If you have a kalimba in a different key, or a different number of tines, you can create a KTabS template for your kalimba's tuning so you can write music for YOUR kalimba.

You can link two different songs together (ie, ALTO "Row, row, row your boat" and TREBLE "Row, row, row") and play them at the same time. Or, write a harmony part to an existing song, and play them both back together to make sure they work. Then play one back with KTabS, and the other part you play live.

We have an extensive and detailed article on KTabS in the How to Play Kalimba section.

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