The amazing (and expensive) Array M'bira

Bill Wesley from San Diego has taken the 'Thumb Piano' (which is a bad name for a bunch of different African instruments, including the Kalimba) and pushed it. His Array M'Bira has up to 150 indivdually made and tuned carbon steel tines, soundboards made from various exotic woods, and lots of nice engraving. That's probably why they cost from $1,600 to $2,400 (or more for custom woods). The tines are tuned according to this fantastically complicated scheme. There's also some kind of MIDI controller, but I can't find out much about that from the site. (Thanks Carl)


Comments:
Despite the intimidating set of diagrams on the site, the Array tuning system isn't that complicated; and despite the hyperbole, it isn't that clever. They've just arranged notes by the circle of fifths rather than in any sort of chromatic order, which they can get away with because, looking at it from the perspective of a traditional keyboard, you have access to multiple octaves in the same place. And I don't think the aforementioned midi controller is specifically a thumb piano; it just uses the Array system.
 
The one MP3 sounds good (first one), but all the rest suck the left nut.
 
You are awesome!

I am into experimental fusion of African Talking Drums and guitars.

You are too fine in content and context!

Your blog is something to be proud of.

Have you heard of KEZIAH JONES, the superb Blufunk guitarist?
 
I have! In fact, I once saw him live, years and years ago. He was fantastic!
 
I'm the inventor of this insrument and there IS a chromatic order. Chromatic order runs from the bottom to the top of the instruments front surface, while order in the circle of fifths runs from the left to right of its front surface. This allows a vast number of voicings to be played that are virtually impossible on any other hand controlled instrument in existence. The standard music theory shown on the web site in relation to the array does seem complicated, until you see the same information with respect to a keyboard or a guitar, then you will know complicated! The wheel was nonexistent in historic times. Its invention may not have seemed particularly clever but it WAS utterly crucial! Further, who so ever disregarded it and failed to adopt it tended to get ground under it! This was the case because the wheel empowered its users with greater efficiency (that is better results for less effort). Greater efficency is EXACTLY what the array offers. Failing to adopt IT will only result in feeling left out though...
 
A bit late to the party, but if you want to check out the array m'bira, you should listen to some Imogen Heap (esp. if you can see her live). Lovely sounding instrument...
 
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