The Kalimbas from the workshop of Peter Hokema

DAN MOI Clemens Voigt & Sven Otto GbR
The Kalimbas from the workshop of Peter Hokema - The Kalimbas from the workshop of Peter Hokema

In Germany kalimbas are produced at the workshop of Peter Hokema. Within this family business he has been making these instruments with excellent quality since 1985. Kalimbas by Hokema are made in a pentatonic tuning. One can play very well on these instruments without any musical educational background, because all of the keys match each other. “Wrong keys” are practically impossible.

Peter Hokema even developed three different kinds of kalimbas. There is the sansula with the lamellas attached to a hide which is stretched over a wooden frame. The “pocket kalimbas” are small models with the lamellas attached to a solid wood block. And the classical kalimba consists of a resonating body with a sound hole.

The Sansula

Sansulas are musical instruments which Peter Hokema developed in 2001 as an enhancement of the kalimba or mbira. The sound block of those instruments to which the tines are attached to (as is the case with the kalimba) is mounted to a membrane stretched by a wooden ring. The specialty is that the tones sound for a long time and produce a beautiful vibrato effect when for example the sansula is put onto one’s lap and one side is lifted and dropped. Sansulas evolve a warm, smooth, and voluminous sound.

For their sound which reminds of a music box, and for the calming vibrations which emanate from these instruments, parents for example like to use the sansulas to play a lullaby for their children. This is primarily possible because the keys match each other. Therefore one can always play beautiful sounds and melodies without any musical expertise.

The “Sansula Basic” is covered by a synthetic drumhead and available in various tunings. The “Sansula Renaissance” is more resilient. It is covered by a drumhead of the company REMO. This membrane is not only very solid and has a nice sound, but is also less vulnerable to variations of humidity. The “Sansula Deluxe” is very robust and made with a natural membrane of goatskin. This membrane can be stretched with a clamping jig. You can let kids play these instruments without worrying.

The Kalimba

We suggest the robust made pocket kalimbas for traveling and for kalimba beginners. The smallest kalimba is palm-sized and has five keys. The ones which are a bit bigger have seven or nine lamellas/keys. The tines of the kalimbas are attached to a solid wood block made of mahogany or American cherrywood. The sound gets amplified and more clearly when the instrument is put on a table or another hollow body, e.g. a cupboard or a drum.

Hokema Kalimba Series

The classical kalimba model by Hokema has nine tines/keys. The lamellas are attached to a resonating body made of wood with sound holes on the front and back side. The two little holes on the back side can be included into the playing: by covering or opening the sound holes with the moving forefingers the sound gets a special vibration, similar to a vibrato. This classical kalimba is made with high quality and neatly tuned in pentatonic A minor. The resonating body is made of solid American cherrywood which has been treated with vegetable oil. These instruments evolve an excellent sound which is similar to the sound of the original African kalimba and mbira.

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