Ancient Music

The Rebec


    This instrument is not to be confused with the pochette. It is a much older predecessor to the violin, first appearing during the 10th century. It is a much cruder instrument but it is significant in that it was truly a 'violin' in the way it was held, played, tuned, etc.. The medievalists and groups like the SCA have kept interest in playing it alive, and there are several modern day makers who produce beautiful modern Rebecs.

    The Rebec was produced for several hundred years in a number if sizes and strings. The most common form is a small instrument, only a little more than two thirds the size of a standard violin, carrying three strings tuned a fifth apart. The body is an elongated pear or teardrop shape with no distinct boundry between the body and the neck. That makes for a short neck usually carrying only five or six frets tied around the neck. The body is carved out of a solid piece of wood topped with a flat face and a rather violin-like bridge and tailpiece. What little fretboard extends over the face is glued to the face and not free floating. It has no sound post or bass bar. Due to its small size it was usually played "on the arm" that is; settled into the crook of the elbow rather than under the chin.

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