the history of the kalimba

Do you know the history of the Kalimba?

The kalimba was created by Hugh Tracey in the 1960s. Tracey loved the sound of the mbiras he heard while living in present-day Zimbabwe, but wanted to create an adaptation better suited to Western music.

The early history of Kalimba:

The kalimba has a rich and varied history in Africa dating back 3,000 years. kalimba metal teeth is only around 1300 years old. Various types of idiophone and plucked blade have existed in Africa for thousands of years. The blades were originally made of bamboo, but over the years metal keys have been developed. The mbira seems to have been invented twice in Africa: a wooden or bamboo instrument appeared on the west coast of Africa around 3,000 years ago, and metal lamellophones appeared in the Zambezi Valley around 1,300 years ago.

These metal instruments traveled across the continent, becoming popular among the Shona of Zimbabwe (from whom the word mbira derives) and other indigenous groups in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. As the mbira spread, so did its physical form and social uses. Kalimba-like instruments appeared from the north of North Africa to the southern tip of the Kalahari Desert, and from the east coast to the west coast, although many or most groups of people in Africa do not own mbiras. There were thousands of different chords, different note arrangements and different instrument designs, but there is a hypothetical arrangement of chords and notes from the original metal instrument of 1300 years ago. In the mid-1950s, the mbira became the basis for the development of the kalimba, a Western version designed and marketed by ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey, which led to a major expansion of its distribution outside Africa. the history of the kalimba Acoustics Lamellophones are instruments with small blades, or "lamellae", that are played by plucking. Unlike string instruments or air-column instruments such as flutes, the harmonics of a plucked lamella are inharmonic, giving the mbira a characteristic sound. Inharmonic harmonics are strongest on attack and fade fairly quickly, leaving an almost pure sound. The arrangement of the notes on some mbira (e.g. the kalimba and nyunga nyunga) has the notes of the scale ascending on the blades from the center outwards, alternating from right to left, so that the chords are made by adjacent blades.The two most common chords for a Kalimba are C Major (discussed in the last section) and G Major. These are the most common keys because they are the most common keys among other instruments.

Kalimba has a rich and varied history and prehistory:

In the 21st century, we can choose to look back and learn traditional songs, or we can choose to look forward and create new things, just as Africans have always done. I choose to look both forward and back, which enriches my kalimba experience.

What makes the kalimba unique?

The kalimba's unique arrangement of notes demands that you understand it physically rather than mentally. You learn what kind of thumb dance you need to do to accomplish a certain song. In a totally unique way, playing the kalimba really puts your awareness into your body.

When a blade is plucked, the adjacent blades also vibrate, and these harmonizing secondary vibrations play a role similar to that of harmonics in a stringed instrument - they increase the harmonic complexity of an individual note. This left-right alternation is not true of the mbira dzavadzimu, where the notes are arranged with the lowest notes in each register located towards the center of the mbira and rising outwards. There are, however, notable breaks in this linear progression that are constant in all mbira dzavadzimu.

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