Kalimba Songs

19 Songs Every Kalimba Player Should Know

If you are a Kalimba player, then this blog post is for you! Here I will discuss the best songs to play on your instrument. We’ll start with some of the easiest songs and work our way up to more challenging tunes. So if you are new or want to learn a few new ones, then keep reading!

How to Tune a Kalimba?

Have you always wanted to play the kalimba? Have you just bought one and now it doesn’t sound how it’s supposed to? It’s time to learn how to tune your kalimba. There are many ways of tuning the instrument, so I’m going to list few methods that seem most popular. The first method is using an electronic tuner. Next, we have to adjust the string tension with a screwdriver or hex wrench. Finally, we have to tighten or loosening individual strings with pliers.

How to tune kalimba
How to tune kalimba

So you’ve just bought your first kalimba and it doesn’t sound quite right. What can you do? Tune Your Kalimba! Here are some easy steps to follow that will get the tuning perfect in no time at all.

– First, start with the lowest notes.

– Choose a string that doesn’t sound right and tune it to the closest note on your tuner, making sure you’re tuning in increments of two—if you don’t see an exact match, try going higher or lower.

– Continue up the scale until all strings are tuned correctly.

– Now, start with the highest notes and repeat.

– If you’re tuning a kalimba with more than one row of tines, tune each string to its corresponding note on your tuner before moving up or down in pitch.

– This method should work for any kind of kalimba—metallic (steel), wooden…

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How to Play Kalimba?

The most difficult part of learning how to play the Kalimba is getting your hands around it. The main goal during this process would be for you to try and angle your fingers as close together on the keys as possible, without hurting yourself. This will help you learn how to play the Kalimba faster as you try to find your way around how it feels.

The first thing that most people do is look at how their fingers should go on the keys and then they usually play a few notes in order to get an idea of what each key does. This will help with learning how to play kalimba. You can either press hard or soft depending on how you want the note to sound and then slide your fingers up from a key to play higher notes.

How to play kalimba
How to play kalimba

To learn how to play kalimba quickly, try playing with one hand at first so that you don’t have any extra pressure on yourself. Play both hands together when you feel like you are ready.

What is a Kalimba?

The kalimba is a musical instrument with a history dating back to the African continent. It has been used by many different tribes and cultures for generations and represents what Africa sounds like. Kalimbas are played in various ways. Some are played by plucking the tines, others are strummed or hit with sticks.

Kalimba is an African musical instrument consisting of a neck with twenty-four or more tines that are tuned to chromatic scales. The kalimba is commonly played by holding it in the hand and plucking the tines, either one at a time or in groups. It comes from southern Africa where it has been used for centuries.

What is kalimba
What is kalimba


Under The Sea

The kalimba is often compared to a xylophone, but the sound it produces is softer and more delicate. In “Under The Sea” by Disney’s “Little Mermaid,” you can hear the kalimba in the background as Sebastian sings about his longing for life outside of Atlantica.

My Heart Will Go On – Céline Dion

Céline Dion’s My Heart Will Go On is kalimba music at its most poignant. The song has become synonymous with the Titanic movie, and it was written to be sung by kalimbas in a Polynesian choir accompanied by guitar strumming. This kalimba version can also be heard in the kalimba scene in the movie Big Fish.


Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

This kalimba tune is a very simple song to play on the kalimba. It’s a great beginner melody and many kalimba players teach this as their first kalimba lesson. The notes are all played by the thumbs in ascending order (left thumb, right thumb). If you’re just starting out on kalimba, this is a good place to start.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by John Arcadelt (1490 – 1567) is one of the most popular kalimba songs for beginners and you can find it in many kalimba songbooks. This kalimba tune will be a great kalimba song for beginners to learn.

Happy Birthday (To You)

This kalimba song is a great tune to learn the instrument. Happy Birthday has simplistic kalimba melodies and rhythms that are easy to play, but sound complex when you hear them in combination with each other. It’s not too difficult of a song, which makes it perfect for beginners!

Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes


One of the best kalimba songs ever written is “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” The song was first published in an 1884 book called Song Stories for Little Children. It became a children’s classic and has been passed down from generation to generation. Since kalimbas are often played by children, it is an essential kalimba song for any kalimba player to know.

The lyrics of this kalimba song are very simple and easy to remember: “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes/knees and toes.” It only takes a few minutes to learn.

You Are My Sunshine

“You Are My Sunshine,” written by country musician Charles Mitchell, was a hit for Rolf Harris in 1971. He released the kalimba version of it on his double album “Down Under”. As a kalimba player, you might find yourself feeling down or tired and this song is the perfect pick-me-up. The kalimba is the perfect instrument to play this song because it has a happy, upbeat sound.

If you’re looking for more kalimba songs by Rolf Harris then “The Kookaburra” and “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport” are also winners!

Careless Whisper – George Michael

I love kalimba music, but I’m not one for listening to the same thing over and over again. Whenever I get tired of playing a particular song on my kalimba or just need something new to play, it’s always nice when someone suggests another kalimba tune that they’ve enjoyed in the past.

One kalimba tune that I’ve loved for many years is “Careless Whisper” by George Michael. It’s a beautiful song with beautifully written lyrics, and the kalimba accompaniment in this particular version of the song makes it even more enjoyable to listen or play!

Auld Lang Syne

-Auld Lang Syne, kalimba cover by Jeff Riffell. This kalimba song is a great way to celebrate the new year with kalimbas! It’s in D and it has lots of cool chords that will make your kalimbas sing!

Silent Night

A kalimba player should know Silent Night because it is a well-known Christmas song. It has been composed in 1818 and the lyrics are based on a poem written by the Reverend John Francis Wade which was published in “Carols for Christmastide” (London, 1870). The kalimba arrangement that I have found on Youtube is from a kalimba player named “littlemisskittykat”.

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd


This kalimba song is one of my all-time favorite kalimba songs. The kalimbas in this song are very intricate and complex, which makes it a great example of what can be accomplished with the kalimba as an instrument. As well, Wish You Were Here showcases how much power there is in kalimba music in general.

The kalimbas have a very deep, powerful sound that is great for any kalimba player to hear. It’s also one of the most well-known kalimba songs out there, so it should be on every kalimba phile’s playlist!

Seven Nation Army – White Stripes

This kalimba song is based on the kalimba melody “Gankutsuou.” The kalimba player has to know how to play this kalimba tune, but it should be easy enough for anyone who knows what they are doing with a kalimba. This upbeat number will have kalimba players and listeners alike tapping their feet.

The kalimba player should be able to play this song in the key of G major, as it is written by Jack White on a kalimba tuned to G major with an added low octave string (octaves 12-16). The tempo for Seven Nation Army is between 140 and 150 beats per minute.

Harry Potter – Theme


Harry Potter has a kalimba version of the theme song. It is in Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, when Hermione does her wand movements for “Lumos Solem!” I love this kalimba arrangement because it mixes two very different instruments together to create something new.

Bring Me To Life – Evanescence 

Bring Me To Life is a kalimba song by Evanescence, which hit the radio in 2003. The kalimba riff that opens and closes this song was recorded for use on an earlier Evanescence album – Fallen (2003). Though it wasn’t used at first, the kalimba part became a kalimba song when it was re-recorded for the Evanescence album.

Bring Me To Life tells a story of how someone is trapped in this dark place, and they can’t get out unless somebody helps them find their way through. The kalimba riff that opens and closes the song shows up again and again throughout the kalimba song to show how trapped they are.

Both kalimbas in this kalimba riff, an African kapenta and a kenkeni djembe, were played by Craig Ritchey on a Yamaha KMX-800 keyboard with MIDI programming software.

Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley

Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley) is a kalimba song that has been played on kalimbas all over the world. The lyrics of this song are about yearning for mercy, redemption and peace. This can be interpreted to mean many things such as feeling lost or seeking guidance from God. Hallelujah was originally written by Leonard Cohen and then kalimba players around the world have adapted it to their own kalimbas.

This song is a good kalimba song for those looking to use music as an expression of themselves or who want inspiration when they play.


How Deep Is Your Love – Bee Gees

One of the most recognizable kalimba songs, “How Deep Is Your Love” was originally recorded by the Bee Gees and released in 1977. It is a synthpop song with influences of disco music. The kalimba part can be heard at the beginning after which it alternates between synthesizers for five minutes.

Carry On My Wayward Son – Kansas


This kalimba tune has a slow but steady tempo that’s great for beginners. Though it uses only three notes, the kalimba player will need to use all of their left and right-hand fingers in order to achieve the melody. This is an excellent song if you are just getting started with playing kalimba and want to learn about playing with all of your fingers.

Castle In The Sky

“Castle in the Sky”, as its title suggests, is a song with an enchanting melody. It’s kalimba part makes it perfect for playing because of how simple and catchy it is, but you can also use any other instrument to play along if desired. “Castle In The Sky” was written by James Lord Pierpont and published in 1882. This kalimba song is a perfect choice for beginners, but it’s great to play even if you’re more advanced!

Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley


Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love is a kalimba song. It contains two kalimbas, one high pitched and the other low-pitched.

La Vie En Rose – Édith Piaf


La Vie En Rose is a French song composed in 1947 with music by Louiguy and words by Édith Piaf. Written as an autobiographical account of her life story so far to a lover who did not yet know that she was no longer “Jeune fille”, it tells of her childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. The song is well known for its opening lyric “La vie en rose”.

In many ways, La Vie En Rose translates the kalimba’s origins in Africa to Western culture and through Piaf’s singular vocal style becomes a kalimba classic that has been covered by a wide range of artists.



We hope you enjoyed the list of 19 best kalimba songs. If not, let us know what your favorites are in the comment section below and we will do our best to make a list for you! Have fun playing these tunes and remember that they’re just one way to explore this beautiful instrument. Experiment with different tones or rhythms until you find something that suits your mood or has special meaning for you.



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