Definitions for thumb piano

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  1. Mbira

    The mbira or thumb piano is an African musical instrument consisting of a wooden board with attached staggered metal tines, played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs. The mbira is usually classified as part of the lamellaphone family, and part of the idiophone family of musical instruments. Members of this broad family of instruments are known by a wide variety of names, such as likembe, mbila, mbira huru, mbira njari, mbira nyunga nyunga, sansu, zanzu, karimbao, marimba, karimba, kalimba, okeme, ubo, or—between the late 1960s and early 1970s— sanza, as well as marímbula in the Caribbean Islands. Both Joseph H. Howard, owner of the largest collection of drums and ancillary folk instruments in the Americas, and Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji argue that the mbira is thoroughly African, being found only in areas populated by Africans or their descendants. In Eastern and Southern Africa, there are many kinds of mbira, usually accompanied by the hosho. It was reported to be used in Okpuje, Nsukka area of the south eastern part of Nigeria in the early 1900s.

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