The different methods of notating music on the kalimba

The kalimba is a small melodica with creeping stems whose roots run deep in African music. It is also known as a "thumb piano" or "wooden mbira" and is considered one of the simplest string and blade instruments to play. Like most string and blade instruments, the kalimba is both easy to play and difficult to interpret. Because of its unconventional playing style and the many notation methods available, many players are sometimes reluctant to learn to play the kalimba. To help players familiarize themselves with the kalimba, let's discover the different notation methods that can help you play pieces more easily.

Notation with numbers

This method of kalimba notation is the most widespread and the simplest. By using numbers, the kalimba can be precisely notated. In this notation, notes are designated by numbers ranging from 1 to 8 (1 being the lowest note, 8 being the highest). Other capital letters (A - G) can also be used to designate notes. Each letter corresponds to a different number, so that A = 1, B = 2, etc. Numbers/letters can be associated with lines or boxes as shown below:


the different methods of notating music on the kalimba

So, the notation method consists of noting each note of your piece of music with a number or a letter, and arranging them as above. The advantage of this method of notation is that it's very simple, and you can easily learn to find and play any note.

Anglo-Saxon rating

Anglo-Saxon notation is another commonly used method of notating the kalimba. It is similar to number notation, but uses the notes as they are normally referenced in classical music, i.e. a system of notes from the letter A to G (A, B, C, D, E, F, G). Notes on the kalimba can be located on a diatonic or chromatic scale (i.e., the scale can be based on smaller intervals or semitones). For example, the number 8 can be noted A, 9 B, etc. This method of notation makes it easier for the player to play a wide variety of music.

Other rating methods

There are other notation methods for the kalimba. Some methods are more precise than others, as they code each note and pause with specific symbols. For example, the "system of beams and flags" establishes a code of a line of notes made up of beams and flags. There are also simpler methods, such as the chord book, which notes only the chords.

So, with different and varied notation methods, the kalimba can be played more easily and with greater precision. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced player, find a notation method that suits you and helps you play your favorite pieces.