Easy kalimba songs 7 note

Easy kalimba songs 7 note DEFAULT


African musical instrument of the lamellophone family

"Kalimba" redirects here. For other uses, see Kalimba (disambiguation).

"Zanza" redirects here. For the Rurouni Kenshin character, see Sagara Sanosuke.

Mbira dzavadzimu 1.jpg

Mbira dzavadzimu

Other namesfinger harp, gourd piano, ikembe, kalimba, kilembe, likembe, likimba, marimbula, mbla, sansa, sansu, sanza, thumb piano, timbrh, zanzu
ClassificationLamellophone, Plucked Idiophone
Hornbostel–Sachs classification122.1
(Plucked idiophone)
Timbreclear, percussive, chimelike

Varies, see Tuning

low to medium

Mbira (pronounced m-BEE-ra , ) are a family of musical instruments, traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe. They consist of a wooden board (often fitted with a resonator) with attached staggered metal tines, played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs (at minimum), the right forefinger (most mbira), and sometimes the left forefinger. Musicologists classify it as a lamellaphone, part of the plucked idiophone family of musical instruments. In Eastern and Southern Africa, there are many kinds of mbira, often accompanied by the hosho, a percussion instrument. It is often an important instrument played at religious ceremonies, weddings, and other social gatherings. The "Art of crafting and playing Mbira/Sansi, the finger-plucking traditional musical instrument in Malawi and Zimbabwe" was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020.[1]

A modern interpretation of the instrument was commercially produced and exported by ethnomusicologistHugh Tracey from the late 1920s onward, popularising similar instruments outside of Africa. Tracey's design was modeled after the mbira nyunga nyunga and named 'Kalimba' after an ancient predecessor of the mbira family of instruments.

Mbira as known as the Kalimba became popularized in the 1960s and early 1970s largely due to the successes of such musicians as Maurice White of the band Earth, Wind and Fire and Thomas Mapfumo in the 1970s[2] These musicians included mbira on stage accompanying modern rock instruments such as electric guitar and bass, drum kit, and horns. Their arrangements included numerous songs directly drawn from traditional mbira repertoire. Other notable influencers bringing mbira music out of Africa are: Dumisani Maraire, who brought marimba and karimba music to the American Pacific Northwest; Ephat Mujuru, who was one of the pioneer teachers of mbira dzavadzimu in the United States; and the writings and recordings of Zimbabwean musicians made by Paul Berliner. Claire Jones, a student of Dumisani Maraire in the 1970s, has been playing and teaching mbira for more than 40 years. She is also a Festival Coordinator for Zimfest, a Zimbabwean Music Festival held annually in North America that offers many opportunities to learn and listen to mbira.[3][4]

Joseph H. Howard and Babatunde Olatunji have both suggested that mbira (and other metal lamellaphones) are thoroughly African, being found only in areas populated by Africans or their descendants.[5] Similar instruments were reported to be used in Okpuje, Nsukka area of the south eastern part of Nigeria in the early 1900s.[6]


A Zimbabwean mbira dza vadzimu

Various kinds of plucked idiophones and lamellaphones have existed in Africa for thousands of years. The tines were originally made of bamboo but over the years metal keys have been developed. These types of instrument appear to have been invented twice in Africa: a wood or bamboo-tined instrument appeared on the west coast of Africa about 3,000 years ago, and metal-tined lamellophones appeared in the Zambezi River valley around 1,300 years ago.[7] Metal-tined instruments traveled all across the continent, becoming popular among the Shona of Zimbabwe (from which the word mbira comes) and other indigenous groups in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.[8] The mbira was differentiated in its physical form and social uses as it spread. Kalimba-like instruments came to exist from the northern reaches of North Africa to the southern extent of the Kalahari Desert, and from the east coast to the west coast, though many or most groups of people in Africa did not possess mbiras. There were thousands of different tunings, different note layouts, and different instrument designs, but there is a hypothetical tuning and note layout of the original metal-tined instrument from 1,300 years ago, referred to as the 'kalimba core'.[9][10]

In the mid 1950s mbira instruments were the basis for the development of the kalimba, a westernized version designed and marketed by the ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey, leading to a great expansion of its distribution outside Africa.[11][12]


Lamellophones are instruments which have little tines, or "lamellae", which are played by plucking. Unlike stringed instruments or air-column instruments like flutes, the overtones of a plucked lamella are inharmonic, giving the mbira a characteristic sound. The inharmonic overtones are strongest in the attack and die out rather quickly, leaving an almost pure tone. When a tine is plucked, the adjacent tines also create secondary vibrations that increase the harmonic complexity of an individual note.[13]


Mbira music, like much of the sub-Saharan African music traditions is based on cross-rhythm. An example from the kutsinhira part of the traditional mbira dzavadzimu piece "Nhema Musasa" is given by David Peñalosa, who observes that the left hand plays the ostinato "bass line," while the right hand plays the upper melody. The composite melody is an embellishment of the 3:2 cross-rhythm (also known as a hemiola).[14]


Tuning chart for the Tracey 15-note alto kalimba.

mbira dzavadzimu tuning and key layout

* Same color keys are the same notes (usually octaves)
* Key “1” is the lowest note, ascending to the highest note key “23”
* Key “2” is often only found on the mavembe tuning
* Some mbira have extra keys (e.g. extra “17” on left side, or higher notes on the right beyond key “23” are most common)
* Note intervals can vary, but all the octaves are divided into a heptatonic scale, many being diatonic or at least nearly diatonic
* This diagram does not represent every mbira dzavadzimu, but does represent the most common layout
* The key numbering and color codes portrayed here are arbitrary and simply to communicate the layout (not traditional approach)

It is common on African mbira and other lamellophones to have the lowest notes in the center with higher notes to the far left and the far right—this is an ergonomic nicety, in that the thumb can pivot such that all the tines are easy to reach. However, traditional African tunings use notes that do not lie on the grid of the Western tempered scale, and traditional mbira note layouts are often idiosyncratic, sometimes with adjacent tines making part of a scale, but then an odd note thrown in that defies the pattern.

Historically, mbira tunings have not mapped exactly onto Western scales; it is not unusual for a seven-note sequence on a mbira to be "stretched" over a greater range of frequencies than a Western octave and for the intervals between notes to be different from those in a Western scale. Tunings have often been idiosyncratic with variations over time and from one player to another. A mbira key produces a rich complex of overtones that varies from one instrument to another depending on its maker's intentions and accidents of fabrication, such that some instruments simply sound better when some notes of a familiar tuning are pushed.[15] With the increased popularity of the mbira dzavadzimu in North America, Europe, and Japan in recent decades, Zimbabwean mbira makers have tended to tune their instruments more uniformly for export, but much variation is still found among mbira in their homeland.[16]

Tunings vary from family to family referring to relative interval relationships and not to absolute pitches. The most common tuning played throughout Zimbabwe and among non-Zimbabwean mbira players worldwide is Nyamaropa, similar to the western Mixolydian mode.[17][18][19][20][21] Names may also vary between different families; Garikayi Tirikoti has developed a "mbira orchestra" that has seven different tunings, each starting on a different interval of the same seven-note scale, where it is possible to play all instruments in a single performance.[22] The seven tunings that Garikayi uses are: Bangidza, Nyabango, Nhemamusasa, Chakwi, Taireva, Mahororo, and Mavembe (all of which are also names of traditional songs save for Mavembe and Nyabango). The closest to what is commonly named "Nyamaropa" is his "Nhemamusasa" tuning.[23][24]

Specific tunings[edit]

Common names for tunings are:

  • Nyamaropa (close to Mixolydian mode) (considered the oldest and most representative in Shona culture) It emphasizes togetherness through music, creating polyrhythms through having two Mbira players at once, having singing styles accompany an Mbira such as Huro (High emotional notes that are at the top of a singer's range) & Mahon'era (a soft breathy voice at the bottom of the singer's range) or both elements. A single Mbira is considered incomplete for a performance.[25]
  • Dambatsoko (close to Ionian mode), played by the Mujuru family. The name refers to their ancestral burial grounds.
  • Dongonda, usually a Nyamaropa tuned mbira with the right side notes the same octave as the left (an octave lower than usual).
  • Katsanzaira (close to Dorian mode), the highest pitch of the traditional mbira tunings. The name means "the gentle rain before the storm hits".
  • Mavembe (also: Gandanga) (close to Phrygian mode), Sekuru Gora claims to have invented this tuning at a funeral ceremony. The mourners were singing a familiar song with an unfamiliar melody and he went outside the hut and tuned his mbira to match the vocal lines. Other mbira players dispute that he invented it.
  • Nemakonde (close to Phrygian mode), same musical relationship as the mavembe, but the nemakonde tuning is a very low pitched version.
  • Saungweme (flattened whole tone, approaching seven tone equal temperament).


Mbira dzavadzimu[edit]

Mbira dzavadzimu in a deze.

In Shona music, the mbira dzavadzimu ("voice of the ancestors", or "mbira of the ancestral spirits", national instrument of Zimbabwe[26]) is a musical instrument that has been played by the Shona people of Zimbabwe for thousands of years. The mbira dzavadzimu is frequently played at religious ceremonies and social gatherings called mapira (sing. "bira"). The mbira dzavadzimu can be used to play over one hundred songs, such as Kariga mombe.

A typical mbira dzavadzimu consists of between 22 and 28 keys constructed from hot- or cold-forged metal affixed to a hardwood soundboard (gwariva) in three different registers—two on the left, one on the right.

While playing, the little finger of the right hand is placed through a hole in the bottom right corner of the soundboard, with the little finger entering from the front of sound board, and the ring finger and middle finger reaching around the back to stabilize the instrument. This leaves the thumb and index finger of the right hand open to stroke the keys in the right register from above (thumb) and below (index finger). The fingers of the left hand stabilize the left side of the instrument, with most fingers reaching slightly behind the instrument. Both registers on the left side of the instrument are played with the left thumb. Some mbira possess an extra key in the upper left register which is hit from below by the left index finger.

Bottle caps, shells, or other objects ("machachara"[27]) are often affixed to the soundboard to create a buzzing sound when the instrument is played. In a traditional setting, this sound is considered extremely important, as it is believed to attract ancestral spirits.

During a public performance, an mbira dzavadzimu is frequently placed in a deze (calabash resonator) to amplify its sound.

The mbira dza vadzimu is very significant in Shonareligion and culture, considered a sacred instrument by the Shona people. It is usually played to facilitate communication with ancestral spirits, bringing the spirit of the dead back on its homestead.[28] Within the Shona tradition, the mbira may be played with paired performers in which the kushaura, the caller, leads the performed piece as the kutsinhira, the responder, "interlocks" a subsequent part.[29] The ritual is known as the Bira. During these all-night ceremonies, people call upon the spirits to answer questions. The variations of notes in an Mbira piece aid the participants in going into trance, which in Shona culture aids the spirits in taking over the participant's body.[30]

Albert Chimedza, director of the Mbira Centre in Harare, has estimated that "there are at most ten thousand people in the world who play mbira."[2]

Mbira Nyunga Nyunga[edit]

The nyunga nyunga which normally has 15 keys, originated from Manicaland where it traditionally played the entertainment role during social gatherings and commemorations.[28] Jeke (Jack) Tapera introduced the mbira nyunga nyunga in the 1960s from Tete province of Mozambique to Kwanongoma College of African music (now United College of Music) in Bulawayo. Two keys were then added to make fifteen (Chirimumimba, 2007), in two rows. The mbira nyunga nyunga is similar in construction to the mbira dzavadzimu, but has no hole in the soundboard. Key pitch radiates out from the center, rather than from left to right.

Zimbabwe's Dumisani Maraire originated mbira nyunga nyunga number notation. The upper row keys (from left) are keys 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 while the bottom row keys are notated as 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15. Maraire brought awareness of this instrument to the United States when he came to the University of Washington as a visiting artist from 1968 to 1972.

Recently a Midlands State University (Gweru, Zimbabwe) lecturer in the department of music and musicology has suggested a letter notation; the upper keys as (from first left upper key) E, D, C, F, C, D, and E and the lower or bottom keys as (from the first lower key) A, G, F, A, F, C, D, and E. But the Maraire number notation has remained the internationally accepted system (Chirimumimba, 2007).

Njari mbira[edit]

Njani mbira has 30 to 32 keys and was also originated from Zimbabwe particularly Masvingo and Makonde.[28]


The nhare has 23 to 24 keys and was originated from Zimbabwe. In the Zimbabwean tradition, nhare was used for rituals of communicating with Musikavanhu or Nyadenga (God).[28]

Mbira matepe[edit]

Main article: Matepe

Mbira matepe which has 26 keys originated from along the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.[28]


In the diaspora[edit]

See also: marimbula

The first documentation of Kalimbas in Brazil dates back to 1723 where they are referred to as marimbas (not to be confused with marimbas).[31] They seem to have faded into obscurity as they didn't make it to the present day, although "modern" Kalimbas now exist in Brazil.[32]

An example of a Marimbula in Haiti.

In Cuba African lamellophones along with the Cajón influenced the origins of the marimbula, whose history is poorly documented but is suspected to have originated in eastern Cuba.[33]

Hugh Tracy[edit]

The Hugh Tracey kalimbas are tuned diatonically in the key of G. The arrangement of the notes on the Hugh Tracey kalimba borrows from the typical scheme with the lowest notes in the center and the upper notes on the left and the right, with the notes in the ascending scale alternating strictly right-left and going outwards towards the two sides.

The diatonic western kalimba tuning which Tracey used was practical for a worldwide instrument—with hundreds of African kalimba tunings, the chosen Western standard would maximize the number of people who would immediately connect with the kalimba. The practicality of this note arrangement, with notes going up the scale in a right-left-right-left progression, is that modal 1-3-5 or 1-3-5-7 chords are made by playing adjacent tines. If chords are played in the lower octave, the same notes will appear on the opposite side of the kalimba in the upper octave, which makes it very easy to simultaneously play a melody in the upper octave and an accompanying harmony in the lower octave. So, the arrangement of notes on the Hugh Tracey kalimba (and on virtually any kalimba that copies the instrument) makes certain complex musical operations very simple.[34]

Alternative tunings are possible, as the tines of most kalimbas are easily pushed in and out to sharpen or flatten their pitch. Some alternative tunings simply change the key of the kalimba, without changing the note layout scheme. C major is a popular tuning, sold by multiple manufacturers. Other alternative tunings move the kalimba to non-modal scales (such as Middle-Eastern scales). Each note of the kalimba can be tuned independently (unlike a guitar), so any scale, western or non-western, is possible, and traditional African scales are still accessible to this modern African instrument. Composer Georg Hajdu has tuned the Hugh Tracey alto kalimba to the chromatic steps of the Bohlen–Pierce scale in a piece called Just Her – Jester – Gesture. The Bohlen–Pierce scale subdivides the just twelfth into 13 steps.[citation needed]

  • Hugh Tracey treble kalimba

  • An octagonal mbira of high craftsmanship which spans two octaves.

Related instruments[edit]

Signature Series Gravikord

Instruments related to or inspired by the mbira include:

  • Array mbira, a modern invention consisting of as many as 150 tines configured in a special order based on the circle of fifths (see Isomorphic keyboard).
  • Gravikord, an electrified double harp that is a modern kora and kalimba hybrid, inspired by the cross rhythms of the mbira. The Gravikord was invented in 1986 by Bob Grawi an American musician and artist. It is also tuned in the key of G major/E minor in an extended version of the Hugh Tracey kalimba tone layout with a range of 3+1⁄2 octaves. Music and playing techniques learned on this kalimba can be easily transferred and played on the Gravikord.
  • Guitaret, an electric lamellophone made by Hohner and invented by Ernst Zacharias, in 1963.
  • Ikembe, an instrument common among the Hutu of Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern DR Congo.
  • Modern kalimba, the mbira inspired instruments of Hugh Tracey. Named after the original kalimba (ancestor of mbira).
  • Kisanji among Ngala-speaking people of western DR Congo and eastern Congo Republic.
  • Thoom Otieno (also tom, thom or toom), popular in Gambela Region, in Western Ethiopia on the border of South Sudan.

In popular culture[edit]

On May 21, 2020, as part of Zimbabwe Culture Week, Google honoured the mbira with a doodle which included a button allowing users to hear and play the instrument virtually. The doodle also featured the animated story of a young girl who learns to play the mbira and inspires a new generation of mbira players after becoming an established artist as an adult.[35]

Even though it is set in Botswana, the 1980 movie The Gods Must Be Crazy features a character playing the mbira.[36]


Main article: List of mbira players

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Art of crafting and playing Mbira/Sansi, the finger-plucking traditional musical instrument in Malawi and Zimbabwe". Intangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  2. ^ ab"Making music: Zimbabwe's mbira". BBC News – Africa. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
  3. ^"Claire Jones | School of Music | University of Washington". music.washington.edu. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  4. ^"About Zimfest | Zimbabwean Music Festival". zimfest.org. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  5. ^Olatunji, Babatunde (1965). Musical Instruments of Africa: Their Nature, Use, and Place in the Life of a Deeply Musical People (1st ed.). New York, New York: John Day Company, Inc. p. 48. ISBN .
  6. ^"Sub-Saharan African Instruments at the National Music Museum". collections.nmmusd.org. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  7. ^Kubik, Gerhard (1998) Kalimba – Nsansi – Mbira. Lamellophone in Afrika. With CD. Berlin: Museum für Völkerkunde[ISBN missing]
  8. ^Falola, Toyin (2000). African Cultures and Societies Before 1885. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press. pp. 274–275. ISBN .
  9. ^Gimenez Amoros, Luis; Tracing the Mbira Sound Archive in Zimbabwe; Routledge; Abdingdon-on-THames, Oxfordshire, England: 2018. 144 pp. ISBN 978-1138585102
  10. ^Berliner, Paul F.; Soul of Mbira: Music and Traditions of the Shona People of Zimbabwe; University of California Press; Oakland, California: 1979. 280 pp. ISBN 978-0520033153
  11. ^"My Story of Hugh Tracey – Kalimba Magic". www.kalimbamagic.com. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  12. ^"Hugh Tracey Kalimbas". www.danmoi.com. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  13. ^Chapman, David M. F. (January 2012). "The tones of the kalimba (African thumb piano)". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 131 (1): 945–950. Bibcode:2012ASAJ..131..945C. doi:10.1121/1.3651090. PMID 22280717.
  14. ^Peñalosa, David (2010). The Clave Matrix; Afro-Cuban Rhythm: Its Principles and African Origins p. 35. Redway, CA: Bembe Inc. ISBN 1-886502-80-3.
  15. ^McNeil, L. E.; Mitran, S. (2008-02-01). "Vibrational frequencies and tuning of the African mbira"(PDF). The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 123 (2): 1169–1178. Bibcode:2008ASAJ..123.1169M. doi:10.1121/1.2828063. ISSN 0001-4966. PMID 18247916. S2CID 24997642. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2020-06-13.
  16. ^"Amazon.com: Kalimba Thumb Piano 17 Key,Portable Finger Piano/Mbira/Sanza Kit for Kids and Adults, Solid KOA With Key Locking System,Tune Hammer,Study Instruction,Cloth Bag,Study Guide Sticke: Musical Instruments". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  17. ^"Tune Your Mbira". MBIRA. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  18. ^"N. Scott Robinson-World Music and Percussion, Frame Drums, Riq, Tambourines". www.nscottrobinson.com. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  19. ^"Mbira webstore (world wide shipping) | MBIRA ZVAKANAKA" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  20. ^Williams, Michael. Getting Started with Mbira dzaVadzimu(PDF).
  21. ^Tracey, Andrew. "THE SYSTEM OF THE MBIRA". Journal of International Library of African Music.
  22. ^"Mbira Junction / Garikai Tirikoti". www.mbirajunction.com. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  23. ^Williams, Michael. Getting Started with Mbira dzaVadzimu(PDF).
  24. ^"Mbira: Constraint and Mobility in Shona Society". www2.kenyon.edu. Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  25. ^Alves, William (2009). Music of the Peoples of the World. Boston, MA: Schirmer. pp. 66–67. ISBN .
  26. ^"Music in Zimbabwe". Nordiska Afrikainstitutet. March 16, 2006. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2007.
  27. ^Williams, B. Michael. (2001) Learning Mbira: A Beginning. Everett, PA: HoneyRock. ISBN 0-9634060-4-3
  28. ^ abcdeStaff Reporter. "The irony of mbira instrument". Southern Times Africa. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  29. ^Berliner, Paul (1978). The Soul of Mbira (1st Paperback ed.). Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. pp. 17–18. ISBN .
  30. ^Alves, William (2009). Music of the Peoples of the World. Boston, MA: Schirmer. pp. 64. ISBN .
  31. ^"Between the Marimba Thumb Piano and the Grand Piano: Musicians and Black Musicalities in 19th-century Brazil with Dr. Rafael Galante". sppo.osu.edu. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  32. ^"Kalimba history in Brazil". www.google.com. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  33. ^"Marimbula history and origin". www.google.com. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  34. ^"Chords on the 17-Note Kalimba in C - Kalimba Magic". www.kalimbamagic.com. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  35. ^Celebrating Mbira
  36. ^"Gods Must Be Crazy, 1980 song". YouTube. Retrieved 13 June 2020.

General references[edit]

  • Berliner, Paul (c. 1978). The Soul of Mbira: Music and Traditions of the Shona People of Zimbabwe. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Fowler, Andy (2020) Discover Mbira : Ancient Zimbabwean Trance Music. Mbira Magic.
  • Fowler, Andy (2015) Unlocking Mbira : Chord Progression and System of Mbira Workbook. Mbira Magic.
  • Gahadzikwa, Fungai; Fowler, Andy (2016) Traditional Mbira Song Book. Mbira Magic.
  • Howard, Joseph H. (1967). Drums in the Americas. New York City: Oak Publications.
  • Kwenda, Forward; Fowler, Andy (2019) Learn to Play Mbira : Traditional Songs and Improvisation. Mbira Magic.
  • Mutwa, Credo Vusa'mazulu (1969). My people: the incredible writings of Credo Vusa'mazulu Mutwa. Johannesburg: Blue Crane Books.
  • Tracey, Andrew (1970). "The Matepe Mbira Music of Rhodesia"(PDF). Journal of the African Music Society. 4 (4): 37–61.doi:10.21504/amj.v4i4.1681Free to read(Note: this article is the original source of the Matepe song Siti, as played by Zimbabwean Marimba band Musango.)
  • Tracey, Hugh (1961). The evolution of African music and its function in the present day. Johannesburg: Institute for the Study of Man in Africa.
  • Tracey, Hugh (1969). "The Mbira class of African Instruments in Rhodesia (1932)". African Music Society Journal. 4 (3): 78–95.doi:10.21504/amj.v4i3.1439Free to read
  • Warner Dietz, Betty; Olatunji, Michael Babatunde (1965). Musical Instruments of Africa; Their Nature, Use, and Place in the Life of a Deeply Musical People. New York City: John Day Company.

External links[edit]

  • Mbira.org, "the non-profit organization devoted to Shona mbira music", based in Berkeley, California
  • sympathetic-resonances.org: A free online platform featuring computer-generated playback and visualisation of mbira transcriptions, with the long-term goal of cultural preservation.
  • MbiraMagic.Com Mbira Education Website
  • Mbira.Online : Mbira Masters Video and Notation Archive
  • Zimfest.org, a Zimbabwean Music Festival held annually in North America that offers many opportunities to learn and listen to mbira.

Archived Link - Mbira.co.zw, "A community of mbira players, researchers, makers & lovers, for the enhancement of the Mbira, music & fashion. Mbira Transfiguration & Permanence", based in Harare, Zimbabwe

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbira

Using the 6-Note Songbook on Any Kalimba

If you are having difficulty finding your way around a big kalimba, step back and simplify

Left: numbers for “C tuning” songs.
Right: numbers for “5-tuning” songs.

If you would like to play specific songs on your kalimba but you don’t know where to start, or if you feel you haven’t really connected well with your kalimba, you might want to consider getting the 6-Note Pentatonic Song Book.

Here is a remarkable fact: if you have a big kalimba with lots of notes, you may very well be able to use the instructional material from a kalimba with fewer notes, but you need to know which tines map into the smaller kalimba’s notes.

I was talking with a customer who really wanted the 8-Note kalimba and not the 6-note kalimba, but she really liked the songs in the 6-note book, which has several spirituals. I told her that she could play every song in the 6-note book on her 8-note kalimba, and we show you exactly how to do that here. But first, why would someone want to do that?

This Little Light of Mine

The songs in the 6-Note Pentatonic Book are written in a numbers-based tablature. They tend to be simple well-known tunes. Because they are written with numbers representing the degrees of the scale instead of geometric tablature, these songs can be played on any kalimba where you have those degrees of the scale.

Write the note numbers on the appropriate tines with a Sharpie marker. You can remove them with alcohol wipes.

If you don’t know what I mean by numbers representing the “degrees of the scale”, I mean “1, 2, 3” = “Do Re Mi”, or “Doe a Deer”. What is called the “C tuning” in the 6-Note Book is actually any tuning that has 1 as the lowest note and 8 as the highest note. By the way, 8 is the same note as 1, but one octave higher.

The second part of the 6-Note Book uses a “5 tuning”, which has the 5th in the bass. Songs like “Amazing Grace” and “This Little Light of Mine” and “As I Went Down to the River to Pray” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” have a one octave range, but start and end on the 5th. I think this tuning is more useful than the original tuning, which starts and ends on the 1 or root note.

On the 6-Note Kalimba, you need to retune one note to go from “C Tuning” to the “5 Tuning” in F, but on kalimbas with more notes, you don’t have to do any retuning at all, but you do need to know which numbers to write on which tines.

Marking 8-note kalimba for 6-note book

The chart above indicates the notes of the standard 8-Note kalimba tuning in C. Above the note names are the notes 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 – note that 4 and 7 are missing. These six notes are the notes in the “C tuning” covered by the first part of the 6-Note Book. Higher up on the diagram, you see the notes 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 5′ – these represent the “F tuning”, which is a “5-based tuning”, which you need to play songs from the second part of the book. (The 5′ notation indicates the 5 that is an octave above the low 5.)

By the way, when playing in the “5 tuning”, you are in the key of F, which wants to have a Bb instead of a B natural. That note, the 4, is not required in the pentatonic scale, and as it is the wrong flavor of B for the F scale, try to avoid playing it by accident.

Marking Alto kalimba for 6-note book

The Alto Kalimba with 15 notes has so many tines that you don’t have to double up on keys (C and F) as we did with the 8-note kalimba. You can play both the “1 tuning” and the “5 tunings” in the key of G. However, at least to start with, I suggest you still label only the minimal 6 notes on your kalimba.

Another luxury of having 15 notes: you can choose between a lower “1 tuning” or a higher “1 tuning” (which reads the “C tuning” part of the 6-Note book – we don’t call it a “C tuning” here because this kalimba is in G). That is, once you master the songs in the first part of the 6-Note Book on the lower octave of your Alto kalimba, you can wipe your tines clean, write the upper octave numbers, and learn the same songs again with higher notes. This is actually an important step in becoming more familiar with your Alto kalimba.

Marking Lotus karimba for 6-note book, 1Marking Lotus karimba for 6-note book, 5

The Lotus Karimba is a strange instrument – it is easy to play great sounding music, but it is hard to make it play a specific song because the notes are laid out in such an odd pattern. If you are interested in making progress with this instrument and actually learning to play specific songs, marking the tines with the numbers as in the diagrams above, and getting the 6-Note Pentatonic Book is a good place to start.

Marking pentatonic kalimba for 6-note book

We give you one more example of how you can use the 6-Note Book with a different kalimba – the 11-Note Pentatonic Kalimba. The degrees of the scale are shown here. Just like the Alto kalimba, you can choose to learn the lower octave or the upper octave for the “1 tuning” songs. You can see where the “5-tuning” notes would go – start on the D = 5 on the left hand side, and go up (6, 1, 2, 3), ending on the high D = 5 on the right side of the instrument.

If the kalimba you are looking for is not here, you might look for it in the tuning library where most of the tunings are presented with the scale degree numbers. Standard and alternative tunings for over a dozen different kalimbas are listed there (totaling over a hundred separate tunings).

Sours: https://www.kalimbamagic.com/blog/item/using-6-note-songbook-on-all-kalimbas
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Fly me to the moon is a song that reeks of a fragrant aroma of love and romance. This song was first recorded by the veteran musician Kaye Ballard in 1954. Then, in 1964, Frank Sinatra covered this timeless gem changing the ¾ timing to the 4/4 time. This imparted a jazz touch due to the fast beats and made it a famous pop number. Here, we will present to you the easy 8 key Kalimba tabs and chords of Fly me to the moon. This song has some intensely amorous lyrics that perfectly deliberate your lovey- dovey feelings to your someone special. The melody croons about how in other words the smitten man tells his sweetheart that he loves her. The Kalimba letter and number notes of Fly me to the moon are extremely easy and beginner friendly and these notes given here are just for the 8 key Kalimba which you can play effortlessly.

8 Key Kalimba | Fly Me To The Moon Kalimba Tabs & Numbered Notes

1°7 6 5 4 5 6 1° 7 6 5 4 3
6 5 4 3 2 3 4 6 5 4 3 2 1
2 6 6 1°7 5 1 4 4 6 5 4 3

1°7 6 5 4 5 6 1° 7 6 5 4 3
6 5 4 3 2 3 4 6 5 4 3 2 1
2 6 6 1°7 5 1 4 4 6 5 4 3

8 Key Kalimba | Fly Me To The Moon Kalimba Chords & Letter Notes

C°B A G F G A C° B A G F E

C°B A G F G A C° B A G F E

Song Credits

Posted in 8 Key Kalimba Songs, Easy kalimba Tabs, NotesSours: https://kalimbainstrument.com/notes/8-keys-fly-me-to-the-moon-kalimba-tabs-and-chords/
Stand by Me Coconut Kalimba 7keys Cover - Super Easy Tabs

Easy Kalimba Tabs

Easy Kalimba Tabs for Beginners, Intermediate & Advanced Players

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On By lh1999 In 2020, Album, Anime, Artists, English, Kim Samuel, Language, Releasing Year, The Last Airbender, Theme/Tones

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Sours: https://easykalimbatabs.com/

Note easy kalimba songs 7

There are so many incredible songs you can learn to play on Kalimba, but if you are a beginner, the best idea would be to go easy. But finding a perfect song to learn is never easy. Fortunately, this might help you with your decision. 

Love is an eternal subject, and there have been countless songs dedicated to this feeling. Saying which one is the best is undoubtedly a challenging task, but one thing is certain.

How Deep Is Your Love by Bee Gees is among the best love songs you can find. Here, you will find everything you need to learn how to play it on the kalimba. 

Saturday Night Fever

The song was released in 1977, and over the years it gained armies of followers. Many artists paid a tribute to this song by doing their own version of How Deep Is Your Love. 

Even though it isn’t the most popular song by this British band, it is definitely in the top five. Interestingly, the song managed to stay in the Top 10 list for seventeen weeks, setting up a record it would remain unbroken for fifteen years. 

Robert Stingwood requested a song for the movie he was producing at the moment, and the group wrote five new songs. One of these songs was How Deep Is Your Love. 

The song eventually earned its place in the soundtrack for well-known Saturday Night Fever, even though it was written for Yvonne Elliman. 

Robin Gibb, one of the co-founder of the Bee Gees explained how they created that unique sound we all know and love. Instead of double-tracking the voice in the song, he and his brother Barry sang at the same time. 

This unison created by their combined voices gave that special feel and made a mark in the history of pop music. 

One of the primary reasons why How Deep Is Your Love is an excellent song to learn on the kalimba is due to its tempo and beautiful harmonies. Kalimba is an instrument that really shines with slow songs, and you won’t have any problems learning how to play it. 


If you found this article useful you may want to save this pin below to your Kalimba board

Sours: https://kalimbahq.com/play-how-deep-is-your-love-on-kalimba/
A Thousand Years By Christina Perri - Kalimba Easy Practice

Keeping your Kalimba in tune is the single most important thing you can do to continue enjoying to play your instrument and to maintain motivation to practice and improve your technique. There are two ways to look at Kalimba Tuning.

To ‘Tune a Kalimba’ is adjusting each tine individually to a specific pitch so the notes sound exactly as expected. When played together, the perfectly tuned tines complete a musical scale or part thereof. This is the Kalimba‘s tuning, and how the instrument sounds when the notes are played together.

In this article, I am going to look at both aspects of Kalimba tuning. I will discuss how to tune individual keys on the instrument. Once you know how to do that, your Thumb Piano becomes a far more versatile instrument than you first imagined, as you will be able to completely retune the kalimba to different scales, or ‘Tunings’

The first section will be about how to tun your Kalimba, whilst scrolling down will take you to the Scales section

Tuning a Kalimba

This section is about tuning your kalimba. There may be more than one reason why you need to tune or retune your kalimba. It may be that you have a dead, or stiff tine that needs adjusting, or one tine sounding out of tune that needs a small adjustment to get it back to normal.

What you will need to tune a Kalimba

  • A Kalimba (of course!)
  • List of required notes
  • Tuner (physical or phone app)
  • Tuning Hammer
  • Earphones with Mic pick-up (optional)
  • Patience

What notes to Tune the Kalimba keys to

Let’s forget about tuning to various scales right now and concentrate on the scale that your Kalimba has arrived. Quite often new kalimbas are tuned to the scale of C and the keys are marked with the letters of each note.

It is not unusual to find Kalimbas to be slightly out of tune on arrival from certain suppliers!

What notes are on a Kalimba?


On a 17 key Kalimba tuned to C you should expect to find the notes C4,D4,E4,F4,G4,A4,B4,C5,D5,E5,F5,G5,A5,B5,C6,D6,E6 covering just over two octaves beginning at C4. This is the most common tuning followed by a G Major scale.

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Regularly Check the tuning of your Kalimba

Whether you feel your Kalimba is out of tune or not, it is good practice to check the tuning of each tine on a weekly basis. There may be one or two more frequently played tines moving slightly out of tune, but not enough for your ear to pick up accurately. left for some time and more notes will be off and you KalImba will begin to sound bad.

How to check each note on the Kalimba is in tune

By far the easiest way to check the accuracy of the tuning for each key on your Kalimba is to use a tuning tool. These can be either electronic tuners (my preference) of a tuning application on your mobile phone.

Which tuning tool you use is entirely up to you. there are free tuning apps available on both IOS and android which are fine, but it is worth spending even a couple of bucks, to not have to have ads popping up while you are trying to tune your kalimba.

Tuning apps for Kalimba

Using a basic guitar tuning app is going to provide you with what you need to check the tuning of your Kalimba to guide you to the adjustments you need to make to get it back into tune, or to retune the thumb piano to a completely different scale.

There are many options for both IOS and android devices, and the following are a few I have used or continue to use

IOS Apps

insTuner is one of a few tuning apps on IOS. I dont have a great deal of experience here as I had one on my iPad, but also have better on my android phone and an electronic tuner that i always prefer if it is at hand


gStrings is probably one of the most popular tuning apps used on any mobile phone. Available for free in the PlayStore, you will get pop up adds which can be a pain in the butt, although this user think they are OK for a free app.

Really handy app, obviously as the free version, it had a bunch of ads, which can be a little much sometimes but they never get in the way of being able to use the tuner, so no real complaints from me! Tuner itself seems accurate to me, I can’t tell the difference between tuning with this or with a dedicated clip-on tuner. It does need a reasonably quiet space to work properly, which can be a pain if that is not possible, but overall, I really like it!

Murdo McLean 4/5 Stars on 9/4/2020

Electronic Tuners for Kalimba

I have to admit to still being a bit old school. not so much as to go back to a tuning fork, but I do like my battery electronic tuner that I have had for as long as I can remember

The fact I have owned a Korg since 2001 and it is still going strong speaking volumes for the value for money it provides, and I am sure the newer versions are an improvement on the one I still have.

I own other Korg tuners as well as other brands of tuners (I like to keep a tuner with each musical instrument I own) and this one is THE BEST YET!

Michael, USA – 5/5 Stars 7/16/2020

See price on Amazon

Any tuner is fine so it really comes down to your personal preference and whether you would lke to use a physical tuner or electronic tuner with your Kalimba

The process of tuning your Kalimba

So now we have the kalimba and the tools to discover whether each tine is in tune or not, we can go about correcting any that are out of tune.

This is done with the help of the tuning hammer.

What is the Kalimba hammer for?

You have taken a look online for some Kalimbas and are thinking of buying one, you note it comes with a handy carry case and a hammer. But what is the hammer for?

The kalimba hammer is an essential thumb piano tuning tool made from metal with a wooden handle used for adjusting the kalimba keys with small taps, affecting the distance between the front of the tine and the bridge which alters the pitch of the tines and notes played.

Now, this is both a delicate piece of equipment for helping to tune the keys on your Kalimba but also solid enough so that you need only tap the tines a little.

Where to get a Kalimba Tuning Hammer?

Many Kalimbas come supplied with a case that also includes a tuning hammer, so the chances are you already have one.

If you do not own one, you’ll notice the head is quite small and it is a little more delicate than the hammer you have in the garage.

Fortunately, they are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from Amazon with convenient delivery in a day or two.

Which way do I need to move the tines?

You have probably already figured out that the shorter the tine after the bridge, the higher the note and vice versa.

So quite simply

  • Hammer up, to higher the note
  • Hammer down to lower the note

When tuning an individual key on a Kalimba, the very slightest movement up or down the bridge will change the pitch of the note, so huge walloping blows with the hammer are not required.

The way the hammer is used is to tap either the top or bottom of the tine depending on what change in the tine note you are trying to achieve.

A couple of taps is enough to change the pitch, so don’t go crazy and after each couple of taps, check with the tuning app once again to see if the pitch is correct or not.

Kalimba Tuning Scales

Kalimbas can be purchased with different numbers of tines, from 7-17 in most cases, with the most popular and ‘standard’ instruments offering 15 on the Hugh Tracey Alto, or 17 on many of the other brands on the market tunes to G Major or C.

Can you tune a kalimba to a different key?

Tuning a kalimba to a different key than it is currently tuned to is easy. Simply take a tuning hammer and tuning app and adjust each tine to the specific note required for the new key and scale you wish to play,

The fact is, supplied kalimbas unless bespoke ordered and tuned for, you are tuned to standard scales and it allows you to learn and play many recognizable ‘songs’

Where things can get really interesting and help you create original music is to tune a Kalimba to another scale and explore the world of new possibilities this provides.

Alternative Kalimba Scales

By taking what you have learned about tuning a Kalimba in this article no opens up the chance to experiment with retuning your Kalimba to an alternative scale and creating original music of your own

A scale is simply a series of notes in a sequence covering an octave [8 notes]

These natural scales can be used as the basis of your 17 key scale on kalimba. Of course, if you have an 8 key kalimba you are ready to go with these. You can chromatically retune your Kalimba from its diatonic scale too.

What is Chromatic Kalimba Tuning?

Most Kalimbas are tuned to Diatonic scales, missing sharps and flats. By adding them into a scale when you retune your kalimba you can create a chromatic scale and create even more melodic possibilities in your playing. Some Kalimbas have keys on the back presenting full chromatic scales.

Major Scales

  • C Major Scale: C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C
  • G Major Scale: G – A – B – C – D – E – F♯ – G
  • D Major Scale: D – E – F♯ – G – A – B – C♯ – D
  • A Major Scale: A – B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G♯ – A
  • E Major Scale: E – F♯ – G♯ – A – B – C♯ – D♯ – E
  • F Major Scale: F – G – A – B♭ – C – D – E – F
  • B Flat Major Scale: B♭ – C – D – E♭ – F – G – A – B♭
  • E Flat Major Scale: E♭ – F – G – A♭ – B♭ – C – D – E♭
  • A Flat Major Scale: A♭ – B♭ – C – D♭ – E♭ – F – G – A♭

Minor Scales

  • A Minor Scale: A – B – C – D – E – F – G – A
  • E Minor Scale: E – F♯ – G – A – B – C – D – E
  • B Minor Scale: B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G – A – B
  • F Sharp Minor Scale: F♯ – G♯ – A – B – C♯ – D – E – F♯
  • C Sharp Minor Scale: C♯ – D♯ – E – F♯ – G♯ – A – B – C♯
  • D Minor Scale: D – E – F – G – A – B♭ – C – D
  • G Minor Scale: G – A – B♭ – C – D – E♭ – F – G
  • C Minor Scale: C – D – E♭ – F – G – A♭ – B♭ – C
  • F Minor Scale: F – G – A♭ – B♭ – C – D♭ – E♭ – F

How to Apply these scales to 17 note kalimbas

Taking the C Scale above, it is a matter of extending either up or down an octave as you prefer.

So the C Scale [C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C] becomes


There are almost limitless variations of scales you can choose to tune your kalimba to.

Sours: https://coolpercussion.com/kalimba-tuning/

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Easy You Are My Sunshine Kalimba Tabs & Chords

Love and sunshine are synonymous. Both make the world a better and a brighter place to stay. The warmth, the happiness, the radiance- everything that the sun reflects is also radiated by our one and only beloved. So, if you too are madly in love with a pretty soul, then here is something for you. Here we will share with you the You are my sunshine Kalimba tabs and chords. The Kalimba notes of You are my sunshine are very simple and have been provided here for the beginners and intermediate. You are my sunshine has been sung by the legendary singer Johnny Cash and this romantic melody runs on gently captivating one and all. From the country music genre, this song was released decades back but it still doesn’t fail to impress and mesmerise us. So, check out the Kalimba chords of You are my sunshine and enchant everyone with your skills.

Version 1


You are My Sunshine Easy Kalimba Numbers (with Lyrics)

5 1 2 3 3 3 23 1 1

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

1 2 3 4 6 6 5 4 3

You make me happy when skies are grey.

1 2 3 4 6 6 5 4 3 1

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.

1 2 3 4 2 2 3 1

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

You are My Sunshine Easy Kalimba Letters (with Lyrics)


You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.


You make me happy when skies are grey.


You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.


Please don’t take my sunshine away.


Version 2

You Are My Sunshine Kalimba Tabs (Numbers)

5 1° 2° 3° 3°
3° 2° 3° 1° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4° 6°
1° 2° 3° 4°
1° 2° 3° 4° 6°
6° 5° 4° 3° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4°
2° 2° 3° 1°

5 1° 2° 3° 3°
3° 2° 3° 1° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4° 6°
6° 5° 4° 3° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4° 6°
6° 5° 4° 3° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4°
2° 2° 3° 1°

5 1° 2° 3° 3°
3° 2° 3° 1° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4° 6°
1° 2° 3° 4°
1° 2° 3° 4° 6°
6° 5° 4° 3° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4°
2° 2° 3° 1°

5 1° 2° 3° 3°
3° 2° 3° 1° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4° 6°
6° 5° 4° 3° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4° 6°
6° 5° 4° 3° 1°
1° 2° 3° 4°
2° 2° 3° 1°

You Are My Sunshine Kalimba Chords (Letters)

G C° D° E° E°
E° D° E° C° C°
C° D° E° F° A°
C° D° E° F°
C° D° E° F° A°
A° G° F° E° C°
C° D° E° F°
D° D° E° C°

G C° D° E° E°
E° D° E° C° C°
C° D° E° F° A°
A° G° F° E° C°
C° D° E° F° A°
A° G° F° E° C°
C° D° E° F°
D° D° E° C°

G C° D° E° E°
E° D° E° C° C°
C° D° E° F° A°
C° D° E° F°
C° D° E° F° A°
A° G° F° E° C°
C° D° E° F°
D° D° E° C°

G C° D° E° E°
E° D° E° C° C°
C° D° E° F° A°
A° G° F° E° C°
C° D° E° F° A°
A° G° F° E° C°
C° D° E° F°
D° D° E° C°


Version 3

You Are My Sunshine Kalimba Numbers

5 1° 2° (3°-1) 3 3° 3° 2° 3° (1-1°) 3 5

1° 2° 3° (4-4°) 6 6° 6° 5° 4° (3°-1) 3 5

1° 2° 3° (4-4°) 6 6° 6° 5° 4° (3°-1) 3 1°

1° 2° (3°-1) 3 3° 4° (4-2°) 2 2° 3° (1-1°) 3 5 7 1°

5 1° 2° (3°-1) 3 3° 3° 2° 3° (1-1°) 3 5

1° 2° 3° (4-4°) 6 6° 6° 5° 4° (3°-1) 3 5

1° 2° 3° (4-4°) 6 6° 6° 5° 4° (3°-1) 3 1°

1° 2° (3°-1) 3 3° 4° (4-2°) 2 2° 3° (1-1°) 3 5 7 1°

You Are My Sunshine Kalimba Letters

G C° D° (E°-C) E E° E° D° E° (C-C°) E G

C° D° E° (F-F°) A A° A° G° F° (E°-C) E G

C° D° E° (F-F°) A A° A° G° F° (E°-C) E C°

C° D° (E°-C) E E° F° (F-D°) D D° E° (C-C°) E G B C°

G C° D° (E°-C) E E° E° D° E° (C-C°) E G

C° D° E° (F-F°) A A° A° G° F° (E°-C) E G

C° D° E° (F-F°) A A° A° G° F° (E°-C) E C°

C° D° (E°-C) E E° F° (F-D°) D D° E° (C-C°) E G B C°


You are my sunshine is a masterpiece that will never lose its charm. This is because the song beautifully explains and speaks out loud those unsaid words that we often hide deep within our hearts. The lyrics are conversational and intensely amorous. The music is soothing and serenading. The low guitars at the background indeed will calm your nerves making you sway to its lovely tune. Johnny Cash is just outstanding and his phenomenal voice keeps us hooked onto this melody for days. You are my sunshine is a perfect wingman on a romantic date night if you want to melt your someone special in your arms.


Artist: Johnny Cash
Album: Unearthed

Artist/Singer, Difficulty, Easy, English, Famous, For Beginners, Intermediate, Johnny Cash, Lyrics, Song Language
Sours: https://rewindcaps.com/kalimba/artist/johnny-cash/you-are-my-sunshine-kalimba/

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