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Music Term: Mbira

M
M.d.
M.g.
M.m.
M.s.
M.v.
Ma
Ma non troppo
Mace
Machete
Machicotage
Machina a venti
Machine head
Macumba
Madhya laya
Madhya saptak
Madhyama
Madrasha
Madrigal
Madrigal choir
Madrigalism
Maessig
Maestoso
Maestro
Magadis
Maggiolata
Maggiore
Magico
Magnetic tape
Magnificat
Magnifico
Magnus liber organi
Magrepha
Mail call
Maillechort
Main
Main droite
Main gauche
Mainstream
Maitres
Majeur
Major
Major chord
Major scale
Malaguena
Malincolico
Malinconia
Malinconico
Mallet
Mallet instruments
Mallets
Mambo
Man
Mancando
Manche
Mandar
Mandola
Mandolin
Mandore
Mandrel
Mangulina
Manica
Manico
Manicordion
Manieren
Manjari
Mannerism
Mannheim
Mannheim school
Mano
Mano destra
Mano sinistra
Manual
Manualiter
Manualkoppel
Manubrio
Manuscript
Maqam
Maraca
Maracas
Marcando
Marcatissimo
Marcato
March
Marching band
Marching machine
Marcia
Marcia, alla
Margin
Mariachi
Marian
Marian antiphons
Marimba
Marinera
Marizapalos
Mark tree
Markiert
Markig
Marsch
Martel? - martellato
Martelatto
Martele
Martellato
Martial music
Marziale
Mascella
Masculine cadence
Mask
Masking
Masonic music
Masque
Mass
Master
Master crook
Master fader
Matasin
Matins
Matsuri
Mattinata
Maultrommel
Maxixe
Mazurka
Mbira
Md
Mdm
Me
Mean-tone
Meane
Measure
Measured roll
Mechanical instruments
Mechanik
Medesimo
Media cana
Medial cadence
Mediant
Medieval
Medio registro
Medley
Meend
Meg/mega
Mehr
Meistergesang
Meistersinger
Mejorana
Mejoranera
Mela
Melancolico
Melidoca
Melisma
Melismatic
Mellophone
Mellophonium
Melodic chromatic scale
Melodic minor scale
Melodie
Melodion
Melodious
Melodrama
Melody
Melomania
Melos
Membranophone
Memby
Meme
Meno
Meno mosso
Mensur
Mensural music
Mensural notation
Mensuration
Mente
Menuet
Menuetto
Merengue
Mescolanza
Mess call
Messa di voce
Messe
Messe de notre dame
Messel
Mesto
Mesure
Metallophone
Metamorphosis
Meter
Meter signature
Meter, asymmetrical
Meter, compound
Meter, simple
Metre
Metric notation
Metrical modulation
Metronome
Metronome mark
Metronome marking
Metronome marks
Mette
Meza voce
Mezza
Mezza voce
Mezzo
Mezzo forte
Mezzo piano
Mezzo soprano
Mezzo voce
Mezzo-piano
Mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-soprano clef
Mezzoforte
Mezzoforte piano
Mf
Mfp
Mg
Mi
Mi bemol
Mi bemolle
Mi contra fa
Mi diese
Mi diesis
Mi sostenido
Mic
Mic gain control
Mic input
Mic level
Mic pad
Mic preamp
Mic/line switch
Mica
Microphone
Micropolyphony
Microtone
Mics
Mid-range frequencies
Middle ages
Middle c
Middle ground
Middle voice
Midi
Midi channel
Midi clock
Midi clock with song pointer
Midi controller
Midi echo
Midi interface
Midi patch bay
Midi sample dump
Midi sequencer
Midi time code
Mihrab
Mil
Milagro
Mild steel
Militare
Military band
Military music
Millefiori
Millennium
Milliliter
Millimeter
Mimigakoeteiru
Minaret
Minbar
Mind
Mineral spirits
Mineur
Ming
Mini disk
Miniature score
Minim
Minim rest
Minima
Minimalism
Minimalist music
Minimum bore, mouthpiece
Minimum shank external diameter, mouthpiece
Minnelied
Minnelieder
Minnesang
Minnesinger
Minor
Minor scale
Minstrel
Minstrel/menestrelle
Minuet
Minuet and trio
Minuscule
Mirliton
Mirror composition
Mischio
Miscible
Miserere
Misericords
Mishra
Missa
Missa brevis
Missal
Misterioso
Misura
Misurato
Mit
Miter
Mitsuda-e
Mix
Mixdown/ mix down
Mixed media or mixed-media
Mixed voices
Mixer
Mixing console
Mixing solo
Mixolydian
Mixolydian mode
Miyake daiko
Mizu-e
Ml
Mm
Mobile
Mod?le anglais
Mod?le fran?ais
Modal
Modal rhythm
Modality
Mode
Modeling
Modeling clay
Modeling tools
Moderado
Moderato
Modere
Modern
Moderne
Modernism
Moderno
Modes, authentic
Modes, plagal
Modesto
Modinha
Modo
Modular digital multitrack
Modulate
Modulation
Modulation noise
Module
Modus
Modus lascivus
Moeller method
Mohs scale
Moins
Moire
Moll
Molto
Molto, molta
Monitor
Monitor channel/monitor path
Monitor mixer
Monitor pot
Monitor section/monitor mixer section
Monitor selector
Mono
Monochord
Monodrama
Monody
Monophonic
Monophony
Monothematic
Monotone
Montonero
Moon mandolin
Morbido
Morceau
Mordent
Mordent (inverted)
Morendo
Moresca
Mormorando
Morris dance
Mosso
Motet
Motetus
Motif
Motion
Motive
Moto
Moto perpetuo
Motown
Mounted toms
Mounting
Mouth
Mouth organ
Mouthpiece
Mouthpiece receiver taper
Mouvement
Movable clef
Movable do
Movement
Movimiento
Moving coil microphone
Moving fader automation
Mozambique
Mozarabic chant
Mp
Mridangam
Ms
Ms micing
Muance
Mudanza
Muffle
Multi-measure rest
Multi/multi jack
Multimetric
Multiphonics
Multiple bounce roll
Multiple stopping
Multitimbral
Multitrack recording
Multitrack tape
Mundharmonika
Munter
Murciana
Murky
Muscadin
Musette
Music
Music appreciation
Music box
Music drama
Music of the spheres
Music therapy
Musica
Musica ficta
Musical
Musical bow
Musical comedy
Musical glasses
Musical instrument digital interface (midi)
Musical saw
Musician
Musico
Musicology
Musique concrete
Muta
Mutate
Mutation
Mute
Mute cornett
Mute switch
Muthig
Muting pedal
Myuujikku
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 1-9

Mbira
Definition and background:
Plucked idiophone, Percussion instruments, lamellaphoneNote: Although this is classified as a plucked idiophone, the tongues (lamellas) are typically depressed and released creating the same effect as being plucked. This is done with the thumbs and fingers of the performer. The tongues can also be plucked as another type of performance effect. The mbira has been an important instrument in sub-Saharan Africa and has played a part in African culture for 800 years. Although it can be a solo instrument, it is more commonly used as an accompaniment to singers, musicians and dancers. It is not uncommon for the native African instruments to allow solo harmonization, but typically, harmony in African music serves as a variation to the theme being performed. Many versions of the mbira exist with tribes creating distinctive performance styles and names for the instrument. They vary widely in appearance, size, materials, and tuning from the smallest 6- note models of the Kalahari Bushmen, to the sophisticated 33- note instrument found in Zimbabwe. The name mbira is know throughout much of Africa, but regionally, the name mbira is more commonly used in Zimbabwe, while the name Kalimba is used in Kenya, the name ikembe is used in Rhuanda, and the name likembe is used in the Congo, while other names are bit less common such as sanza, sansa, marimba, marimbula, there are more generic names of finger harp, gourd piano, and thumb piano that are often used in the west.The mbira is also known as the thumb piano, because one's thumbs are used to pluck (or more accurately depress and release) the metal strips ( tongues or lamellas) that sound particular notes. It is common for two mbiras to play together where one covers the melodic accompaniment of the singer while the other plays the bass line (or bourdon). Some mbiras have few tongues and others have many. Some of the more sophisticated instruments have two sets of tongues for one performer to play melody and harmony, or melody and bass line on the same instrument.In the 1920's, Hugh Tracey came from England to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to help his older brother run a tobacco farm. He became fascinated by the local music culture and created the Kalimba, a version of the mbira. Introduced by Tracy in the early 1960's, Kalimba was the registered trademark for his diatonic instrument that soon became popular around the world. The word kalimba literally means little music. It was well suited for Western music and made it easy for the performer to play harmony using both thumbs.Today, versions of this African instrument can be found in most parts of the world, with a wide use in parts of Asia, the Middle East, North and South America. Much of this popularity is due to the work of Hugh Tracy, but the simplicity of the instrument's design and construction and the relative ease by which one can learn to play it has added to it's wide acceptance throughout the world.The basic mbira is a simple sound board or sound box with wooden (typically cane) or metal keys or tongues (called lamellas) attached on the top. The sound box is typically made from a calabash (gourd) or wood, and often the metal keys ( tongues) were made from old spoon handles, bicycle spokes or spring wire that were cut and hammered to the desired shape. The keys ( tongues) are plucked with the thumbs, or with combinations of thumbs and fingers.The keys usually consist of 6 to 33 metal keys ( tongues) mounted across two bars (or wooden dowels) at one end attached to the sound box with another wooden dowel holding them in place. The bar closest to the sound hole serves as a bridge, the other to provide a means for the dowel to hold the keys ( tongues) in place. The free ends of the keys ( tongues) are positioned at different lengths to produce the variety of pitches. The length of the vibrating end of the keys ( tongues) determines the pitch (a shorter key or tongue produces a higher pitch, and a longer key or tongue produces a lower pitch).Many of the mbiras with sound boxes, have holes drilled in the sides of the sound box. When the instrument is held in both hands with the thumbs plucking the tongues, the index fingers on each side can cover and uncover these side holes to change the resonance and can provide a tremolo effect. The mbira often has several rows of keys ( tongues) positioned like multiple manuals (or rows of keys) on a keyboard. The lower manual (typically longer tongues and lower pitched notes) often represent the men's voices, while the upper manual (typically shorter tongues with higher pitched notes) represent the young men's voices, or are split with one side of the upper manual representing the young men's voices and the other representing the women's voices. The tuning and arrangement of the tongues are varied.The mbira produces a haunting, fluid percussive sound that is considered tranquil and enchanting. Since you can play either simultaneously or alternating between both thumbs, harmonic and rhythmic effects are possible. An important feature of mbira music is its cyclical nature, with each new repetition of a theme varying slightly from the last and incorporate numerous interwoven melodies, with contrasting and syncopated rhythms. Mbira music lends itself to rhythmic and melodic diversity, and entails a great deal of improvisation, qualities common to African traditional music. The compositions usually consist of a main melodic part (kushaura), and a secondary melodic part (kutsinhira). A special attention should be paid to the combination of quadruple (4/4) and triple 3/4 meters within the rhythmic structure of the music. Most compositions can be thought of as a sequence of four 12- beat phrases. Those 12 beat can be divided into three groups of four, or four groups of three. While the Mbira can be an effective solo instrument, it is rarely found by itself at traditional Shona religious ceremonies. It is ordinarily accompanied by hosho players, handclapping, and singing. The persistant array of complex rhythms and variations of the melodies provides a rich source of sounds that captivates listeners. Many effects can be employed by plucking up or down on the keys ( tongues). The sound can also be altered by wrapping the tongues with wire or adding a mirliton device. This adds an additional buzzing or humming character to the sound of the instrument which is an important sound in many of the tribal cultures. Often, snail shells or metal bottle caps are often attached to the sound board or the sound box to create or enhance the rich buzzing sound. The buzzing is thought to clear the mind and allow the listener to focus totally on the music. These buzzing effects are not commonly used on the diatonic versions of the mbira or outside of the African tribal cultures. Most recordings do not include these effects as they tend to favor the pure sounds of the instrument. Mbira tunings are numerous, and usage depends on personal preference. Mbira players usually settle on a particular tuning and use it consistently. Some of the more common Mbira tunings are Nyamaropa (most common), Gandanga Dongonda, Gandanga (or Mavembe), Nyuchi, Dambatsoko, Katsanzaira, Mande, Nemakonde, Nyamaropa Dongonda, Samsengere, and Saungweme.The range for the mbira is widely different for each tribal area in Africa. Each instrument can be tuned to a number of tuning systems that are also part of a tribal or local area standard. This would also differ by the number of keys or tongues on each instrument.See also lamellaphone.Also; Kalimba; marimba; ikembe; likembe; marimbula; sansa; sanza; finger harp; gourd piano; thumb piano.Mbira
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Last Updated: 2017-10-16 19:05:52
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