The Celeste African Karimba is a block kalimba with 17 tines arranged in two rows – the upper tines and the lower tines. Attached to these are brass buzzers which provide the “typical African” sound. If the buzzing sound is not desired they can be removed or just affixed with tape. The lower tines provide the low keys. The keys of the upper tines form a fifth or an octave to the respective left keys below.
The Karimba is tuned in a traditional African way as Dr. Tracey studied it in the Zambezi valley. The keynote is A, but some of the keys lay between the standardized Western keys. You can also tune the Karimba to other keys by pulling the tines further out or pushing them further in. To do so it is best to use a tuner and a small hammer.
The Celeste series by Hugh Tracey consists of block kalimbas – instruments with tines attached to a solid body of kiaat hardwood (Afrikaans for ‘Wild Teak’). Through their design they are compact, easy to handle, and particularly resistant and robust. Among the Hugh Traceys they are first choice for small hands or kids’ hands.
Although they are slightly quieter than the models with a sound box, their sound volume is still quite impressive. And in case it is not enough you can press the Celeste kalimba to a drum, a window, a solid cardboard, a table, or to another piece of furniture while playing it. That way you create a respectable extended resonating body. The models with a pick-up can be amplified electronically. Another way of playing the Celeste kalimba is the sound massage by just laying the instrument onto your body and playing it… and then letting your mind wander.
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