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In Zimbabwean music, the mbira is a musical instrument
consisting of a
wooden board to which staggered metal keys have been
attached. It is often
fitted into a deze that functions as a resonator.
Mbira performances are usually
accompanied by hosho. Among the Shona there
are three that are very popular (see
Shona music). The Mbira is usually
classified as part of the lamellophone family
of musical instruments. In
some places it is also known as a
The kalimba is an instrument in the percussion family. It is a modernized version of the African mbira. It is a sound box with metal keys attached to the top to give the different notes. Also known as the African Thumb Piano.
The kalimba is a musical instrument from Africa. Several reeds or tines are plucked with the thumb or fingers, and the reed vibrations are amplified by a hollow box resonator or a sounding board. The kalimba is a member of the Lamellophone family of musical instruments.
The first kalimba to be exported commercially out of Africa was the Hugh Tracey Kalimba. After years of studying African music and dozens of prototype instruments, Hugh Tracey's company African Musical Instruments began manufacturing kalimbas, a western version of the mbira, in the late 1950s. The name kalimba is a Bantu word which means "little music", and is similar to the word karimba, a type of mbira.
While kalimba initially meant the Hugh Tracey kalimba, the name kalimba is now a generic name and can describe any non-traditional thumb piano, or can even be used generically for the traditional lamellophones of Africa (ie, the mbira, karimba, sansa, etc).