African musical instrument consisting of a set of tuned metal or bamboo tongues attached to a board or resonator. The tongues are depressed and released with the thumbs and fingers to produce melodies and song accompaniments. The mbira dates to at least the 16th century in Africa, and it was imported to Latin America by slaves.
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The African thumb piano is a musical instrument, a type of plucked idiophone, which is common throughout Subsaharan Africa. Thumb pianos in Africa usually consist of a wooden board to which staggered metal keys are attached.
The instrument is known by different names in different regions of Africa, including Mbira, Mbila, Mbira Huru, Mbira Njari, Mbira Nyunga Nyunga, Marimba, Karimba, Kalimba, Likembe, Okeme, as well as marímbula (also called kalimba) in the Caribbean Islands.
The Thumb Piano originated as a personal accompaniment instrument typically used during walking between visits by traveling Griots and is also often played in modern contexts as well as at religious ceremonies and social gatherings. It is a favorite instrument of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is a really wonderful instrument to play.