Thumbs Up for Kalimba
2 mins

An Introduction

A generic name for kalimba or mbira is thumb piano. Honestly I don't quite get the connections between the two. Piano is a percussion instrument. Piano keys are pressed down to trigger a hammer action, which strikes the strings to create sounds. A kalimba is a plucked instrument, which is played by holding the resonant box and plucking the metal tines with the thumbs. It is painful to play kalimba if you don't have long nails, while a piano player usually keeps the nails short. The keys layout of kalimba is also different from piano.

There are different types of kalimba, and a kalimba can be tuned in different modes. Far from its African origin, the kalimba in the video has 17 keys. It is tuned diatonically in C major, with the lowest note in the center. Starting from the center, alternate the plucking left and right outwards and you have an ascending scale there.

Playing Kalimba

The clip was recorded in December 2019, with snippets of the skating programs of Yuzuru Hanyu.

  1. Art on Ice by Edvin Marton (Origin 2018/19, 2019/20)
  2. Onmyōji by Shigeru Umebayashi (Seimei 2015/16, 2017/18, 2020)
  3. Escape from Plunkett & Macleane by Craig Armstrong (Romeo and Juliet 2011/12)