HT Kalimba
my marimbula

Kalimba Magic - Mark Holdaway's fantastic site for the Kalimba community and enthusiast. You can buy the entire line of Hugh Tracey Kalimbas here. Everything kalimba, sansula, marimbula, the artists who play them and so much more.

African Musical Instruments - It all started with the Hugh Tracey Kalimba but now extends to all kinds of instruments; Kalimbas, marimbas, drums, and other traditional instruments.

Cloud Nine Marimbula - This is where my Marimbula comes from. An amazing instrument with a awesome sound.

Harmonic Journey - Lucinda Ellison's site. Home of the e-mbira, and other artistically crafted kalimba treats. Really beautiful work.

ekalimba - A site with hand crafted electric Kalimbas.

ami logo
-- linkage

-- a dogs life

-- darcie

-- gather - vocals

-- gather - instrumental

-- the look in her eye

-- everybody's talkin' at me

-- cant find the words

-- voodoo girl

-- Sunday morning - vocals

-- Sunday morning - instrumental

-- Christmas is coming

-- Siren song

-- LOL

-- LOL (extended version)

-- just a moment

-- lullaby

-- no time for bad days

-- stranger

-- it's your birthday

-- just a moment

flower head

LIVE - from my living room!

I play a kalimba. Hugh Tracey Kalimba to be exact. I particularly like to play through an amplifier. I have a little Vox that works great. But the kalimba sounds amazing with no electronic help. It is a simple and ancient instrument native to Africa. You play it with your thumbs. It is my musical voice of choice.

I also play a Cloud Nine Marimbula. I haven't put a whole lot of mileage on it yet but I love the sound and physicality of playing it. I have the 13 note chromatic model. (seen to the right) The bottom picture (7 note model) shows how it looks when you are playing it. So cool.

I've always enjoyed tinkering on a keyboard or better yet a real piano. I took a couple years worth of lessons as a kid and got to do it on a really cool old upright piano. I play on something far less cool and a lot more plastic right now, but I can turn it down or play with some headphones on so as not to make too much racket.

I'm also a song writer. Obiously. I really enjoy writing lyrics and crafting the tunes. It's artistic and mechanical at the same time. I get lost in it. I could do it all day long and never get tired. I've got several new songs that I need to get recorded, and I'd like to re-record some of the ones above now that I've had more time to practice them.

That's the funny thing about music, it's ever evolving. A piece of art, you do it and that's it. A song is different every time you play it. And as time goes by, the way you play it and sing it may change stylistically as well. I love how Joni Mitchell put it on her album 'Miles of Aisles' - "nobody ever asked Van Gogh - hey, paint a Stary Night again man."

More to come - forever unfolding.

 13 note marimbula
7 note marimbula
HT kalimba lineup

all music, lyrics, and songs copyright © Devin St.Clair unless otherwise indicated

me and my kalimba

I've been playing a Hugh Tracey Kalimba [often called a thumb piano] for quite a while now. I have most all the models, the alto box, the treble box, the celeste and a trademark shaped solid board alto.

Now that they come with pickups, I'm expanding my collection with those models as well. And let me just say, they can sound quite impressive through an amplifier. I'm having a blast. Kind of opens a whole new world.

I've cycled through favorite models, but ultimately, each style of Kalimba puts forth it's own voice or personality when it is played. The 'box' styles have the vibrato holes on the back that can give a lot of variation on how you play a note or chord; you can 'bend' notes slightly.

The alto box style is deepest and loudest. The treble box is higher, but still 'throaty' and hollow sounding. The sound board styles, like the celeste and the trademark alto, are 'cleaner' sounding; not quite so much resonance or projection as a box style. However, you can kind of 'throw' the sound off the board if you wiggle it while a note or chord is sustaining. They are nice electric as well.

I highly endorse the Hugh Tracey models as they are so well made and really have an even tone through the whole range of notes. I've got several so I can keep them tuned to different keys. There are some other really nice kalimbas out there too; Kalimba magic dot com has several and I've put some links up as well.

Kalimbas are so primitive and simple, yet it is astonishing how much you can squeeze out of them. The first note I heard from a HT Kalimba connected with me in an epic way, I was instantly haunted and charmed by that voice. I've carried one with me at all times ever since.

To sample from James Taylor's - Me and my Guitar -

Me and my kalimba, always in the same mood. I am mostly flesh and bone, and he is mostly wood. Never does grow impatient for the changes I don't know. If he can't get to heaven, maybe I don't want to go. Lord.

Picture me in the key of E, call me Uncle Jon. Any fool can easily see that we go back a long time. Feels something like a fine to me, there's no such thing as the wrong time. He hops up in my hands singing, get down pops it's song time!


 Upon hearing the kalimba being played:

"If rain drops had voices, she said, that's what they would sound like."