Definition of mbira in English:



  • (especially in southern Africa) another term for thumb piano
    • ‘The artist's brother makes mbiras, the musical instrument intimately associated with possession ceremonies; his grandfather carved head rests; and his mother was a potter and his source of inspiration.’
    • ‘The album is made entirely from a multitracked mbira (thumb piano) and occasional rhythmic accompaniment.’
    • ‘These songs conjure a sense of community and activity with their lively mbira parts and the ecstatic singing, making the mbira an instrument of sociality, festivity, and fierce activity.’
    • ‘The baseline is a humble, positive uplifting of Shona culture and values, which is why guitars, drums and horns take a back seat to the unassuming little mbira finger piano.’
    • ‘His music focuses on the social and economic issues that affect the daily lives of ordinary people, and is influenced by the traditional mbira and drumming rhythm of his clan.’


Late 19th century: from Shona, probably an alteration of rimba ‘a note’.