Yekermo Sew on the Gm or Am Karimba

The Hugh Tracey Karimba

The Hugh Tracey karimba is a modern workshop version of what is probably very similar to the most ancient type of thumb piano in Africa - this instrument and the mbira had a common ancestor, which is evident in the lower 9 notes of this striking instrument.

The African tuning has octaves and fifths as we know and understand them, but the 3rd, 2nd, 6th, and 7th intervals lie between major and minor intervals. Hence, if westernized tunings are desired for the karimba, we could put them into either major or minor tunings.

In the minor tuning, the karimba has a haunting sound that is rather addictive, and I recommend it to anyone. Click here to learn more about the various tunings.

Yekermo Sew is a great song by Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, and you can see it performed on the Gm karimba on Youtube:

We gave away a half-baked version of the Yekermo Sew tablature a few years back, but we have a much better version available now for $5.

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