Type: Plucked > Lamellaphone > Idiophone.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 122.1
Region: Southern Africa.
Description: The mbira [pronounced as M Bee Ra or IPA (ə)mˈbɪərə] it is an African musical instrument consisting of a wooden board often fitted with a gourd resonator. The mbira is classified as a plucked lamellaphone or comb lamellaphone in the idiophone family. The instrument and its resonator are often attached with soda bottle caps. The Mbira is played by the musician holding it by their left and right hands. It is played by plucking with the thumbs allowing for complex poly rhythms.
History: Numerous plucked idiophones of different kinds have existed in the African continent for thousands of 3,000 years. The tines [tongues or lamellae] were originally made of bamboo but over the years metal keys have been developed. The metal tongued lamellaphones appeared in the Zambezi River valley around 1,300 years ago. These metal-tined instruments traveled all across the continent, becoming popular among the Shona of Zimbabwe, from which the word mbira comes and other indigenous groups in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.