How to make African Kalimba with your own hands

Kalimba is the oldest and most common musical instrument in Africa, especially in the central and southern parts. Its wide popularity is evidenced by the abundance of names that designate Kalimba among various tribes: Sanza, Mbira, Mbila, Ndimba, Lukembu and so on. Of these, “Tsanets” is generally accepted in Russia, and “Kalimba” in the West. Kalimba is used in traditional ceremonies and by professional musicians. It is called "African hand piano"; it is a rather virtuoso instrument designed for performing melodic drawings, but quite suitable for playing chords. Mostly used as an accompanying instrument. Large Kalimbas give a unique low rumble to the lively bass rhythms of African music, small ones produce a completely ghostly, fragile sound, similar to a music box.

The instrument consists of a resonator and a row or several rows of wooden, bamboo or metal tongue plates serving as a sound source. The case is usually made of wood, hollowed out dried pumpkin, tortoise shell and other improvised materials. When playing (standing, on the move, sitting), the kalimba is clamped with the palms of the hands bent at right angles and tightly pressed to the sides, or kept on the knees, with the thumb and forefinger of both hands, pinch and release the free (upper) ends of the reeds, bringing them into a state vibrations. Kalimbas come in various sizes; the length of the body is 100-350 mm, the length of the reeds is 30-100 mm, their width is 3-5 mm. The Kalimba scale depends on the number of reeds.

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