Musical Instrument Glossary M

Macetas – Maceta means flowerpot in Spanish. Ordinary clay flowerpots tuned with water and played with the hands or with mallets.

Maddalam – Barrel drum from Kerala made out of the wood of the jackfruit tree. India.

Maeta – `Are`are wood blocks. Solomon Islands.

Magu – Magu means didgeridoo in one of the Aboriginal Australian languages. Australia.

Makuta – Tall, barrel-shaped Afro-Cuban drum. Cuba.

Mandocello – A large mandolin, larger than a mandola and tuned an octave below a mandolin. It’s also known as an “octave mandolin.”

Mandola – A large mandolin that is tuned a fifth below a standard mandolin.



Mandolin – A small Pear-shaped Italian instrument of the lute family with fretted neck and from four to six pairs of strings. The mandolin has become popular in American bluegrass music.




Mandora – An 18th century European lute.Also known as mandore.

Manjira – A pair of small hand cymbals. India.

Manyanga – A maraca-style shaker made out of a gourd filled with seeds. Countries: Kenya and Tanzania.

Manguaré – A set of two long tuned logs used by tribes in the Amazon. Colombia.

Maracas – A pair of rattles filled with dried seeds, pebbles, pieces of glass, small metal pieces, or rice. It’s used to provide rhythmic counterpoint. Maracas are widely used in Latin American music.

Marimba – A fully resonated xylophone, played with mallets. Similar instruments: bala, balafon.

Marimba de chonta – A Pacific Coast marimba built with wood bars of chonta palm, lined up in size from larger to smaller (bass to treble) on top of a wooden frame that also supports cane tube resonators made out of guadua, a type of thick bamboo from Pacific South America.

The marimba de chonta is played with two mallets or drumsticks. The chonta marimba preserves many of the elements which are still present in many African cultures, especially in countries such as Ghana, Mali and Gabon. Some call it a percussion instrument while others consider it a melodic instrument. Colombia.

Marímbula – A large box thumb piano of Bantú (Congolese) origin, used to provide the bass sound in some forms of Cuban music.

Marovany – A rectangular, box-shaped zither with strings on both sides. Name variations: marovana. Madagascar.

Marranzanu – Sicilian jew’s harp. It is also known as mariolu, ngannalarruni, and nghinghilarruni. Italy.

Maruga – A metal rattle or shaker, often used in groups that perform Cuban rumba and ritual music. Cuba.

Masenko – A 1-string fiddle. It is the traditional instrument of an azmari or entertaining bard. Name variations: masenqo, masinko, massinko. Ethiopia.

Matepe mbira – An mbira with thin keys that range from 29 to 34. Zimbabwe.

Matraca – A wooden ratchet used during Holy Week. Spain.

Matracca – Sardinian ratchet used during Holy Week. Italy.

Matsuribue – A flute or bue used during a festival. Japan.

Matuqin – A bowed lute adorned with a horse head at the top of the instrument. Countries: China and Mongolia.

Maung – A gong that sometimes is played in a set of gongs placed in a circle. Myanmar.

Mayohuacán – Indigenous Caribbean slit wooden drum found in Cuba and other islands. Used as a war drum by Taino men. Source: Diccionario Enciclopédico de la Música en Cuba. Instituto Cubano del Libro, 2009.

Mazhar – A large bass tambourine with brass jingles used throughout North Africa and Middle East.

Mbaire – A large xylophone from Busoga. It is comprised of twenty large keys arranged in a pentatonic scale and played by six people. Uganda.

M’bal – A shorter version of the n’der drum of the Wolof. Senegal.

Mbela – A musical bow composed of an arched branch and a string cut from a vine. The string is stretched between the two ends of the branch and held in front of the half-open mouth. When struck with a thin stick, the string produces a fairly faint single note to bring out another note, the player then touches it with a blade. The mouth cavity, acting as a natural resonator of varying shape and volume, amplifies and modulates the tones. Central African Republic.

Mbira – A “thumb piano” that is found primarily in the Shona culture of Zimbabwe. The mbira is made of 22 to 28 thin iron keys that are mounted on to a hardwood resonating box, and often placed inside a gourd for increased amplification. The metal keys are plucked with the thumbs and index fingers to create an intertwining, buzzing melody. The instrument is often played inside a gourd or wooden chamber for increased amplification. Zimbabwe.



M’bung m’bung bal – A shorter bass version of the n’der. Used to play the accompanying rhythm in a sabar drum set. Senegal.

M’bung m’bung tungoné – A shorter bass version of the n’der. Used to play the accompanying rhythm in a sabar drum set. Senegal.

Meleket – A long bamboo trumpet without finger holes. Ethiopia.

Mellotron – The Mellotron is an electronic keyboard instrument created by John Bradley & Martin Smith of Streetly Electronics. The mellotron uses pre-recorded tape loops to produce sampled sounds, thus it was the first sampler.

It was introduced in 1963 and quickly became one of the favorite instruments used by progressive rock bands. First users included Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues and the Beatles, who used it in the introduction to “Strawberry Fields.”

The mellotron became one of the most sought-after pieces of vintage musical instruments. It came back to production after a 20-year hiatus.

Melodeon – Button keyed accordion with ten keys, giving a twenty-note diatonic range. In England this term includes all button-keyed accordions. In Ireland and Scotland it is more specific to the one row 10-keyed variety.

Membranophones – Musical instruments in which a membrane vibrates, such as drums.

Metallophones – Percussion instruments consisting of a row of tuned metal bars.

Mi Gaung – Burmese three stringed instrument in the shape of a crocodile. Myanmar.

Mih – A bagpipe but without a drone. Also known as diple and mjeh. The. Istarski mih or Istrian mih is a bagpipe native to the regions of Istria and Kvarner. Croatia.

Mihbaj – A Bedouin coffee-grinder made of wood. It has a base that is about 30 centimeters tall and a 60 centimeter pestle.

Mijwiz – North African and Arabic double reed pipes made out of cane. Name variations: al-mizmar, al mazawij, al-matbakh, al-maqrunah, makrum, cifte.

Milk jug – Percussion instrument used by Central European Gypsy (Roma) musicians.

Mina y Curbata – A set of one-headed Afro-Venezuelan barrel drums made from avocado wood. The mina drum is about 2 meters long and is played diagonally, hitting it with wooden sticks. The curbata is about 1 meter long and is also played with sticks. Venezuela.

Mišnice – Bagpipe made out of goatskin from Dalmatia (Croatia) and Herzegovina (Bosnia-Herzegovina). The chanter is a double pipe with six holes on each side. One pipe is used as the drone and occasionally fingered; the other side used for the tune, in nearly the same register as the drone. Name variations: Mjersnice.

Miya-daiko – Shrine or temple drum. Japan.

Mizwad – A bagpipe with a joined double-chanter, terminating in two cow horns, with a skin bag made from sheep skin. Name variations: mezwed, mizwid. Tunisia.

Moraharpa – Medieval ancestor to the Swedish nyckelharpa, still played today. Sweden.

Morin huur – The morin huur is one of the symbols of Mongolian and Buryat musical tradition. It is sometimes called the horse-head fiddle. The morin huur is a bowed string instrument with a trapezoid body. It normally has the wooden head of a horse at the top of the neck, and its strings are made of horsehair.

According to legend, there once was a Mongolian nomad whose beloved horse died. In the memory of the horse, the man created a musical instrument using the horse’s remains and thus made the first morin huur. Morin huur can beautifully imitate the horse’s voice, but its abilities are not limited to this imitation.

Morsing – Jew’s harp from southern India. It is well-respected and taught at university music schools. India.

Mouth harp – The name sometimes used for the harmonica among blues musicians.

Moxeño – A long bamboo flute, up to 65 cm a 1.5 meters-long with an attached air tube. Name variations: moceno, moceño, moseño, moxeño, mohoseño. Bolivia.

Mpuunyi – Large conical-shaped bass drum. Uganda.

Mridangam – Double-headed barrel shaped drum used in Carnatic (South Indian) classical music. It is played over the lap and legs while in a sitting position. Name variations: Mrdangam, Mrudangam, mridanga, or mrdanga. India.




Mudbesh – A single reed instrument made from cane. Iraq.

Munnharpe – Jew’s harp made out of metal. Norway.

Munniharppu – Jew’s harp. Finland.

Murali – Double clarinet with a wind chamber. India.

Murchang – Jew’s harp from Rajasthan and regions of North India.

Musette bechonnet – Bellows blown bagpipe from the High Loire region, named after its builder Joseph Bechonnet. France.

Musette de Coeur – A Baroque-era bellows blown bagpipe with 2 small cylindrical keyed chanters, and a shuttle drone. France.

Musukitarra – Basque jew’s harp. Also known as trompa musukitarra. Spain.

Muye – A tree leaf used as a wind instrument. China.

Muyu – Fish-shaped woodblock also known as a Chinese temple block. China.


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