Native to Central Africa, the Sanza (or "kalimba" or "thumb piano") is a melodic instrument much played by story ...
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Native to Central Africa, the Sanza (or "kalimba" or "thumb piano") is a melodic instrument much played by story tellers and musicians fond of entrancing sounds.
Thumb pianos exist in various forms, using different scales and modes for their key-tuning, different materials (metal, wood...) for their construction.
Usually, a sanza player holds his/her instrument with both hands, plucking the keys (metal or wooden blades) with the tip of his/her thumbs. Some models have to be laid down on a flat surface, like this particular model.
There are several types of sanzas : a "soundbox sanza" has a large opening on the upper board and two smaller soundholes on its lower part, in order to produce a distinctive "wah wah" modulation effect, while other types have their key-rack fixed to a solid soundboard (see present model), or to a tight piece of animal skin (Sanzula)
This particular model is handmade in Germany (Hokema), and carefully tuned in an original way (see picture below). The tips of its keys are bent down to give better playing comfort. The keys are pretty close to each other and allow great playing velocity. This model is quite special for its 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th keys are higher, which makes sliding from one key to another easier and quicker. This characteristic has a distinctive influence on the instrument's overall sound.
NB: Tuning is adjustable by re-positioning the blades (keys) forwards or backwards.