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What It Is:
: an African musical instrument that consists of a wooden or gourd resonator and a varying number of tuned metal or wooden strips that vibrate when plucked
About the Word:
The mbira is a lamellaphone, a category of instruments with tongues that are either plucked or pressed and released for sound. European explorers reported seeing the mbira in the late 1500s, but its name didn't appear in English until the early 1900s.
Lamellaphones like the mbira are also known as thumb pianos.