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You can totally change the scale your kalimba is playing, not by doing anything hard such as retuning your kalimba, but just by starting and ending on a different note than you usually do. Emphasizing a different note makes that the root note, and the whole system of whole steps and half steps shifts, and all of a sudden the kalimba is playing as if it were tuned to a totally different scale.
How different can the scales be? Here are my descriptions of each of the modes: Mode 1: happy. Mode 2: dark, but jazzy and sophisticated. Mode 3: dark and middle eastern sounding, exotic. Mode 4: angelic. Mode 5: Jerry Garcia in 1969. Mode 6: melancholy and serious.
If you can access these different modes in your playing, you have the power to express these types of feelings in your playing.
First, each scale or mode is a set of typically seven notes that work together in some way, and you can create melodies and harmonies out of the notes in the scale. Each different scale is like a collection of "the right notes" for some type of music. The scales are important in that they give us the basis for some music that we might create. Different types of scales will result in different types of music.
The scales and arpeggios (that is, chords played one note at a time) for each mode are presented below for the Alto kalimba. If you don't have an Alto kalimba, this is still a meaningful exercise, but you will have to figure out how to modify these concepts to the exact notes that you have. For example, if you have an 8-Note kalimba in C, you can still get the dorian mode by starting on D, the second note, but you cannot play a full octave of the D dorian scale. You can still use the dorian mode in your playing, but you will be somewhat limited.