Designed by Don MacLane, a Kinetic Sculpter and Luthier from Oregon in the USA, it is a union of the Mbira, also know as a thumb piano, from the Shona people of Zimbabwe and the hammered dulcimer.
It uses the steel rods from the thumb piano and the layout of the hammered dulcimer. It was originally designed by Don while he was working in Japan and wanting a Hammered Dulcimer that would travel and not require regular tuning. He used his many years experience working in metal to come up with his Hammered Mbira.
I met Don “virtually” at a Sandbridge Hammered Dulcimer retreat run by Ken Kolodner and his team over Zoom, due to Covid. As part of rhe week long workshop we had some light relief by me showing people around my small workshop for making Hammered Dulcimers, and his workshop where he made hammered Mbira’s amoungst other things.
He very generously offered to show me how to make Mbira’s and we are in constant communication over Zoom and email sharing ideas, but to be honest Don is the main source of all knowledge on his Mbira. I have yet to shake him by the hand for his amazing generocity is sharing his knowledge on making this wonderful Mbira with me.