Week 1: Mbira

What kind of instrument is this?

Where did it come from?



Answers:

What kind of instrument is this?

This instrument comes from Africa, and is called an mbira (pronounced "m-BEE-ra"). It is played by plucking the metal tines with your thumbs, which is why sometimes it has been referred to as a "thumb piano."

Where did it come from?

Musical instruments like this have been made in Africa for centuries. In Zimbabwe, traditional beliefs placed great importance on mbira in ceremonies, during which the sound of the mbira was believed to help people communicate with their ancestors.




For more information, visit:

This artifact in the Karshner Digital Collections
Mbira in Zimbabwe tradition
Wikipedia: Mbira
Mbira music [YouTube]