How to Play the Kalimba?

Instrument structure and way of marking sounds

Kalimba, which this book is prepared for, is composed of a small, wooden resonance box and 17 metal keys (known also as tines).

You can see that in the picture, every key produces a different sound and is marked with numbers 1-7. The higher the number is and the further from the centre of the kalimba, the higher the sound is.

There is a dot over some numbers. Sounds on kalimba are repeated: there are a few 1s, 2s, and so on. To differentiate between them, higher notes have a dot over them and the highest have two dots.

How to play songs from this book?

Every time before you start playing it is best to check if your kalimba is well-tuned. You can see how to do it in the further part of this guidebook.

Playing the kalimba is very simple – every song has been written with numbers.

To play the song well, it is enough if you “press” kalimba keys with appropriate numbers in the correct order. We play by pressing keys with our thumbs, best at the ends of keys. For example: to play “sto lat” to need to press keys as follows: 5, 3, 5, 3.

Position during playing

It is best to hold kalimba with both of your hands. Find a comfortable position – you can hold your kalimba in both hands in the air or place it on your laps. It doesn’t really matter if you hold the instrument in both hands and play with your thumbs.

Tuning your kalimba

As with every instrument, kalimba needs to be well-tuned. You use a hammer for that.
A hammer for tuning a kalimba is usually sold together with the instrument. If you don’t have one, you need to get one.
You can also try replacing it with a similar object, however, it won’t be comfortable.

If you need to lower a sound, hit the key from the top. Hit in a way to move the key to the bottom of the instrument (the lower the key is, the lower the sound).

If you need to make a sound higher, hit the key from the bottom. Hit in a way to move the key slightly upwards, (the higher the key is, the higher the sound).

Tuning with an application.

How do you know if the sound needs to be lower or higher?

The easiest way is to use an application that will show you this!

If you have a standard Android phone: Download the application „Soundcorset tuner&metronome”. When you open it, choose an option “tuner”. Play the tune and see what happens with the indicator in the middle. If it is on the left side, you need to make the sound higher until the indicator is placed in the middle. Analogically, if the indicator is on the right side, the sound is too high and you need to lower it down. Eventually, the indicator should be placed in the middle. Follow those steps with every key.

If you have iPhone: download “InsTuner” on your phone. After you open…