Kalimbawu ~ Chromatic Thumb Piano

Kalimbawu By Simon Jepps
The Kalimbawu or Double Kalimba
It took a long time, but in the end my years of research, pouring over numerous photos of various different kinds of thumb pianos eventually paid off.

Here is my invention, the Kalimbawu.

It gets its name by borrowing the term “Ba wu” from the Chinese flute of that name, meaning “him” and “her”.

Whilst not a reed instrument, the metal tongues of the Kalimba do resemble the shape of the Bawu flute’s reed. Also as I will explain, the Kalimbawu features two voices, one male and one female.

If that’s not an excuse, the word just works!

The Kalimba, also referred to as a “thumb piano”, is a modern variant of the African Mbira, developed by Hugh Tracey and which features a Westernised tuning system.

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