February 22, 2016

Blog
Mark Holdaway

Is it Kalimba, Karimba, or Mbira?

What name should I use for my thumb piano? The Karimba/Mbira Family Tree When discussing thumb pianos, people use the instrument names kalimba, karimba, mbira, mbira dzavadzimu, and mbira nyunga nyunga – sometimes with specific intent, and sometimes nearly interchangeably.  Where are these different names from, and what do they mean? In this “family tree” photo, we have the Student Karimba in the center; two African karimbas (also called mbira nyunga nyunga) on the outside bottom row; and at the top, two mbira dzavadzimu. So where does “kalimba” fit in? Lamella means plate, or tongue. “Lamellaphone” (also spelled “lamellophone”) is an ethnomusicological term describing any instrument that makes its sound

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