The kalimbula is a kalimba that is very much based on the idea of the African “mbira” and combines this with the wishes and sound habits of the western-northern musical world.
Currently Hands on Drums offers an African tuning in A major sextatonic (B-C#5-C#4-A4-A3-F#4-E4-E5-G#4) of the Kalimbula – with the sound reeds of the company “HOKEMA”. The tuning comes from Micha Schwarz – Hands on Drums Endorser.
The African mbira (Zimbabwe) usually consists of a sounding wood on which metal bars of different sizes are mounted as sounding tongues.
To amplify the sound, some mbira use a gourd / calabash (“deze”) . The tone wood with the metal bars is then clamped into this kind of hemisphere with a clamping stick. Traditionally, metal discs are usually attached to the outer rim, which rattle loudly when the metal tongues are struck. That was the idea for the template to build the Kalimbula. Because the Kalimbula takes up this construction method with the hemisphere made of ceramic, the clamping stick is found as a very thin wooden board and the sound wood is fixed inside, below the “sound wood ceiling”. The mood of the Kalimbula is based on the Mbira Nyunga Nyunga, which has a wooden frame as a resonating body. This mbira has 15 reeds, three of these reeds are tuned the same as three other reeds of this instrument, so there are 12 different tones. The Kalimbula lacks only three notes of the Mbira Nyunga Nyunga. All traditional pieces for the Mbira Nyunga Nyunga can be played on the Kalimbula, with the restriction that the Kalimbula lacks the three high notes of the Mbira Nyunga Nyunga.
On top are the sound tongues. On the left and on the right there are two holes in the ceramic with which the air vibrations created by the striking of the reeds can be modelled. The lower larger bottom hole not only serves for a better stand, but also allows the longer vibrations of the low notes an additional modulation. Two types of sound pickup are optionally offered: a dynamic and a static (piezo) microphone.
The main purpose of the dynamic microphone is to pick up all the vibrations of the air and modulate them through the holes provided. The static microphone (piezo) is mainly used to pick up the vibrations of the body and, in a direct way, those of the metal reeds. Both together create a sound pickup that can come very close to the sound perception without any amplification at all. Hands on Drums recommends using 90° angled jacks so that the center of gravity of the Kalimbula does not shift negatively and interfere with the playing of the instrument.
With the optional stand ring made of twisted polyhemp rope, the sounds of the Kalimbula are extended even further:
If the kalimbula is placed in this ring, not only is it protected in the best possible way from falling over and falling down, but the sound of the reeds is even warmer; the modelling of the notes at the side holes becomes clear and balanced. Due to the design of the ring, the vibrations of the air are not “enclosed” and can develop freely.
– static microphone (piezo)
– dynamic microphone
– Stand ring made of polyhemp rope
– 6.3mm jack plug with 6.3mm angled jack plug, cable length: 100-500cm
– coming soon: Hardcase for Kalimbula with attached cable pocket