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kalimba obsession
March 27, 2007 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Experiemental Thumb Pianos flickr photoset
posted by Dave Faris (19 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

via growabrain
posted by Dave Faris at 11:01 AM on March 27, 2007

Awesome! Ever since I got out of the hospital I've been wanting to pick up the piano but I didn't know if I'd be able to with an experimental thumb.
posted by DU at 11:06 AM on March 27, 2007

posted by brundlefly at 11:08 AM on March 27, 2007

Neat, thanks!
posted by drezdn at 11:12 AM on March 27, 2007

They look tres coolio-- any representative sound files about?
posted by Dizzy at 11:15 AM on March 27, 2007

What's the weight capacity on that thumb, DU? If it's rated for a quarter-ton or so you should be fine. (IANAPM YMMV)
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:17 AM on March 27, 2007

The scientists who installed it said something about having "the technology" and whenever I flex the thumb everything goes into slo-mo, so I think I've got the weight capacity. But Mrs Austin says I need to rest for a few days before I overextend myself.
posted by DU at 11:26 AM on March 27, 2007

Hrm. Best stick to kalimbalifting, then.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:37 AM on March 27, 2007

Does your thumb sport a tiny little tracksuit?
Is your advisor Oscar Goldfinger?
Am I going to flag myself?
posted by Dizzy at 11:38 AM on March 27, 2007

Obligatory Konono N°1 -links. Cool sounds from Congo...
posted by hoskala at 11:46 AM on March 27, 2007

Those are some awesome kalimbas. If they sound as good as they look...
posted by lekvar at 12:09 PM on March 27, 2007

Just so long as they stop at the thumb (may N be SFW). Dang. I spoke too soon (def NSFW).
posted by ZachsMind at 1:53 PM on March 27, 2007

Encore! It's a medley! (still may N be SFW)
posted by ZachsMind at 1:55 PM on March 27, 2007

Really cool.
posted by unknowncommand at 2:12 PM on March 27, 2007

They look great, but they don't seem to be very experimental - they're just beautiful/artistic.

I was hoping for whammy bars / flexible resonance chambers & shit like that.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:31 PM on March 27, 2007

Hey, nice find, DF, thanks for the post. I've got about 6 or 7 sanzas/likembes/thumb pianos/whatever-you-wanna-call-'ems, mostly from various African countries, including one unusual all-metal one from Zaire that sounds really sweet. I use them from time to time on recordings and whatnot. Great instruments, and I'd sure like to get my thumbs on some of these from your flickr link.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:36 PM on March 27, 2007

A number of these are very charming and funny, especially the conceptual ones like this and this. But none of these have that feature of the African sanza that, I think, really gives it that great sound and uniquely African personality, and that is the little sizzling sympathetic rattles (for want of a better term) wrapped around each key (You can see them just behind the bridge on this instrument). The lack of that sizzling buzz is what made the famous Hugh Tracy Kalimba (which arguably popularized the instrument on a mass level in America and Europe) a bit of a bore. Whenever I hear sanzas without that feature, I feel like something is missing, sort of like a frequency that should be there but it's not. Like, say, classic jazz without a ride cymbal. Sonically incomplete.

They look great, but they don't seem to be very experimental

Well, I dunno, this and this seem to qualify as experimental, but you're right, most of them are simply beautiful/interesting as sculpture.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:00 PM on March 27, 2007

They look great, but they don't seem to be very experimental

This suggests that the sounds may be unusual as well. Is the instrument hooked up to an amplifier? Or simply built to resonate with a reverb-like effect? I have no idea - but it would be fun to play with for sure.

Thanks for a neat post!
posted by marlys at 12:13 AM on March 28, 2007

Yeah, that's pretty obviously running into a delay. There's no way any small resonator could generate delays that long.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:52 PM on March 29, 2007

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