17-key Hugh Tracey "Treble" KALIMBA (a.k.a. "Thumb Piano," African Mbira)




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Published on May 25, 2017

KALIMBA: This 17-key Hugh Tracey "Treble" Kalimba (a.k.a. "Thumb Piano," African Mbira, etc.) consists of a wooden board w/resonator and 17 staggered metal tines, tuned (from left to right): C6, A5, F#5, D5, B5, G4, E4, C4, B3, D4, F#4, A4, C5, E5, G5, B5, D6 . The lowest note is in the center, and the pitches raise, in alternation, from right to left (each side goes up in 3rds). There is one hole on the front (and two on the back), often used for vibrato effects. Instrument is held in the hands, its tines plucked with the thumbs, and used in a rhythmic, melodic, and/or textural fashion. Mine is supposed to be in G major, but by the time it'd found it's way to me, it'd "adjusted" to Ab. (It's not difficult to tune, I just left it "as is" for his video.) Ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey first discovered these instruments in South Africa, and began exporting them around the world in 1954. This is the first little tune I wrote on mine--enjoy!

Song: "Going Out On a Kalimba"
© Dale Turner 2017


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