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// RWE 1/28/2010 1:39:52 PM ke
"Shalom" by Mark Holdaway for the Alto kalimba
If you haven't heard Mark Holdaway's CD "Two Thumbs Up", check it out at kalimbamagic.com. Mark has used KTabS to create written music for his song "Shalom" from this album. It is a free download on your My KTabS page so you, too, can play "Shalom" on your Alto kalimba! Thank you, Mark!

"Fur Elise" for the chromatic kalimba
I am a huge fan of the Hugh Tracey kalimbas, and have most of their kalimba models. The one thing I always wanted, though, was a chromatic kalimba. Playing a kalimba only requires using your thumbs, and it occurred to me that your fingers could be doing SOMETHING. What if you put tines on the back of the kalimba that were like the black keys on the piano, and your fingers could play those? I did a quick calculation and decided if you put the 11 tines of the Pentatonic on the back of an Alto, you would have all the notes you needed for a chromatic kalimba.

It was just an idea, until Mark Holdaway posted an interview with Christian Carver on his website. Christian Carver, director of AMI (the company that makes Hugh Tracey kalimbas) mentioned in the interview that he was experimenting with different layouts for a chromatic kalimba. Well, that was just too much! I had to email him my idea. Christian thought he had heard of that layout before, but hadn't tried it, so he made some prototypes and sent me two-- a box model and a board model. I have always preferred board kalimbas to box kalimbas, and I was immediately drawn to the board chromatic kalimba.

At first, the Pentatonic side of the kalimba was tuned to the missing half-steps, but still in the left-right/left-right layout of a normal kalimba. This was a real mind-bender when playing the tines on the front and trying to remember where the sharps and flats you needed were on the back. Finally I realized it needed to be more intuitive. If you were playing a G on the front and wanted a Gb, then you should be able to just reach behind the G tine with your finger and play the Gb on the back. My brain could really understand this. So I retuned the Pentatonic tines accordingly, only to find that some of the tines really did not want to be tuned that far off their normal note. So I took some of the tines out and swapped them around so that the tines were the correct lengths for the notes I was trying to tune to.

As a final touch, I skewed some of the Pentatonic tines so that if I reached behind a note that didn't have a black key below it on the piano, there would be a small space instead of a tine. So, for example, if I reach behind the "F" tine on the front there is no tine directly behind it on the back.

The first song I wanted to learn on the chromatic kalimba was "Fur Elise"-- a classic piano tune that just won't work on a regular kalimba. I found that the second half of "Fur Elise" goes too high for a kalimba, but the first half is perfect for the Chromatic Alto. It requires only three notes from the back side, and they are pretty easy to reach when needed.

When Randy and I wrote KTabS, we didn't envision using it to write music for a chromatic kalimba! But, the program is flexible enough that I was able to create a funky new template for the Chromatic Alto and write down the music for "Fur Elise". I printed out the music and used it to practice until I had committed the song to memory. Playing the chromatic kalimba is every bit as fun as I dreamed it would be!

If you want a Hugh Tracey Chromatic Alto kalimba, talk to Mark Holdaway at KalimbaMagic.com. If AMI will make it, Mark can get it!

Watch a video of me playing the Hugh Tracey Chromatic Alto kalimba

Download the KTabS music for Fur Elise for the Hugh Tracey Chromatic Alto kalimba from your My KTabS page.

"Thankful" for the 8-note kalimba
I have been having the best time with my Hugh Tracey 8-note kalimba. It is supposed to be sort of a starter kalimba, for kids or people new to the kalimba. But I came to the 8-note the opposite way. I started with a Treble Celeste, and then a box Treble, and then an Alto, and finally decided to try the 8-note kalimba. The simplicity of it really suits me, and I like the way it feels when I play it. I tuned the B to a Bb so my 8-note kalimba is in the key of F. There are lots of melodies this little kalimba cannot play because it just doesn't have enough notes. But I decided early on that this wouldn't keep me from playing what was in my heart.

For example, I recently wanted to play the hymn, "Now Thank We All Our God" on the 8-note kalimba. It just won't work. Never mind the sharp-- there are lots of other notes in this song that go beyond its range. My conclusion was, "So what? Shouldn't an 8-note kalimba get to be thankful, too?" So I created my own arrangement. Maybe the melody is different, but the sentiment is the same.

Download "Thankful" and other tunes arranged for the 8-note kalimba on your My KTabS page.

"Miss Rowan Davies" arr. by Mark Holdaway
"Miss Rowan Davies" is a song I've been playing on guitar for 17 years. I first learned it from an Irish group that later kicked me out because they decided they didn't want a guitar player, and when I discovered this, my "last request" was for them to play this song for me. It has a bittersweet beauty to it that totally captured the moment, and it has an air of nostalgia that continues to capture that moment over the years. But of course, this beautiful song will come to have a completely different meaning in your life. Isn't that cool about music? -Mark

Download Miss Rowan Davies for the Alto Kalimba from your My KTabS page.

"Ding Dong Duet" arr. by Sharon Eaton
This is the Christmas Carol "Ding Dong Merrily on High", written as a duet for the Treble and Alto kalimbas. KTabS will play both parts together-- here's how: First, click on the link to each song below and save each file on your computer. Then use KTabS or the KTabS Reader to open both files. Click the "Tile Windows" icon to view the two files side by side. Then click the "Tie All Views Together" icon to link the two songs together. Now press the "Play" button and you will hear both parts of the duet played together.

Download Ding Dong Duet (Treble Part) and Ding Dong Duet (Alto Part) from your My KTabS page.

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by J.S. Bach
A simple arrangement of a timeless classic.

Download Jesu (Treble) or Jesu (Alto) from your My KTabS page.

On the Trail by Sharon Eaton
If you have a Pentatonic kalimba, then you know there is something wonderfully simple about this instrument. I like to take my Pentatonic kalimba for a walk and find some rhythm or tune that will keep me company as I tread.

I call this little song "On the Trail", with the Pentatonic minor tuning. It has a melody that is repeated often. Try learning just the first four measures, and then take your Pentatonic kalimba for a walk. In between melodies, experiment with different notes and patterns that sound good, then go back to the main tune as your anchor. It is like you have a solo every four measures, and then the melody takes over again. Have fun on the trail!     --Sharon

Download "On the Trail"from your My KTabS page.

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