How to play the Kalimba? Techniques and tips!



Kalimba is a rather simple percussion instrument. It has a wooden stand and several blades, often made of bamboo. Occasionally, there are models equipped with a metal keyboard. On the other hand, the slats are set into crossbeams. Most of the time, the blades are placed on a board with an easel, or directly in the resonance box. And don't forget that the number of slats will determine the number of notes you can access. Before getting started, however, it's important to have some background knowledge, which we'll look at together now.

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how to play the kalimba

Learn to use the instrument correctly

Kalimba means a melodic percussion instrument from Africa. As you may have seen, it has a hollow wooden body or sounding board fitted with metal keys, also known as teeth, blades, slats or keys. These are set into the wood. When you press down on the metal teeth with your thumbs, the wood reacts like a resonance chamber for the keys and emits a sound. The smaller the blade, the more powerful the tone. The longer the blade, the lower the tone. But your sword may not sound right. In this case, it's important to fine-tune your instrument for better sound quality. What's more, it's almost the most pertinent thing you can do to keep your tool in the best possible condition. In fact, it's crucial not only to the health of your ears, but also to the life of your instrument. If anyone has ever told you that tuning this instrument is optional, don't focus on that idea. Every object requires a little maintenance, and the Kalimba is no exception.

To make the right decision: How to choose your kalimba?

The method of playing this instrument is quite simple. All you have to do is use your two thumbs and sometimes even your right index finger. Musicians often put aside their right index finger in the heat of the moment. However, to bring more refinement and complexity to your music, this finger is essential. To get started, select the type of thumb piano you want. The tone of your instrument is irrelevant. However, the number of keys has more, as we saw earlier. The more keys you have in your tool, the more difficult it will be to use your equipment. To play a note on a kalimba, you press down on one of the metal blades with the thumbnail of your thumb as you slide it along. You can also play two adjacent notes at the same time by clicking on two leaves with the same thumb.

There's nothing difficult about this method. However, a certain amount of knowledge is required to progress in your apprenticeship. To begin with, learn the basic scale. In an eight-inch kalimba, the longest leaf designates the first note of the scale. The second note is directly to the left of this first, while the third is to its right. Then the notes continue to change to the right, then to the left, until they reach the top note at the left end of your kalimba. Have fun on the note scale from one to eight, then from eight to one. If you want to play music, sometimes a little music manual is included in the packaging. If this isn't the case for you, you'll find everything you need on the net. But in any case, you should at least learn the sheet music with the notes you have. Otherwise, you always have the option of discovering the resources of your instrument yourself. Learn to make melodies by ear, or write them yourself. You're free - a real asset of this instrument!

how to play the kalimba

How to make Kalimba work

Then, to play music, professionals take the instrument in their hands and use their thumbs to vibrate the blades. The other ends of the blades are left free for the thumbs to rub. The professional holds the kalimba in front of his chest or knees for easy handling and natural playing. The blades are placed side by side. Because of this juxtaposition, when a thumb touches a cover-slat, adjacent blades may also emit vibrations. The tone of the music produced belongs to a scale that can be pentatonic or diatonic. The score is determined by this. The position of the fluke changes according to the specific features of the instrument. Sometimes, it's in the middle of the front part of the Kalimba. While the sound box of some variants is positioned behind, at the rear, the professional can use his fingers to close it.

For a model with a typical design: Notification of Kalimba or Piano thumb Coconut

Kalimba amplification

From now on, designers are producing a very useful piece of equipment to enhance their instrument's operating system: the kalimbox. This box is used both as an amplifier and as a sound box. Simply place the instrument in the lid of the box, so that the sound emitted passes through the inside of the sound box. For a more specific product, this box offers to design a "Wawa" effect so little that the professional gently opens and closes the lid when reproducing the sound. The box also protects your equipment from dust and impact. What's more, the sound of your kalimba can be amplified by connecting a built-in microphone to your audio system. On the other hand, only if it is equipped with this amplification device, such as the ceramic piezo pickup placed at the rear of the soundboard. As for the connection, it must be fitted with a 6.35 mm female connector.


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