Rebec
Overview
 
The rebecha is a bowed string
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

 musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

. In its most common form, it has a narrow boat-shaped body and 1-5 strings and is played on the arm or under the chin, like a violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

.
The rebec dates back to the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and was particularly popular in the 15th and 16th centuries. The instrument is European and derived from the Arabic bowed instrument rebab
Rebab
The rebab , also rebap, rabab, rebeb, rababah, or al-rababa) is a type of string instrument so named no later than the 8th century and spread via Islamic trading routes over much of North Africa, the Middle East, parts of Europe, and the Far East...

and the Byzantine lyra
Byzantine lyra
The Byzantine lyra or lira , was a medieval bowed string musical instrument in the Byzantine Empire and is an ancestor of most European bowed instruments, including the violin. In its popular form the lyra was a pear-shaped instrument with three to five strings, held upright and played by stopping...

. The rebec was first referred to by that name around the beginning of the 14th century, though a similar instrument, usually called a lyra, had been played since around the 9th century.

The introduction of the rebab into Western Europe has possibly coincided with the conquest of Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 by the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

, in the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The rebecha is a bowed string
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

 musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

. In its most common form, it has a narrow boat-shaped body and 1-5 strings and is played on the arm or under the chin, like a violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

.

Origins

The rebec dates back to the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and was particularly popular in the 15th and 16th centuries. The instrument is European and derived from the Arabic bowed instrument rebab
Rebab
The rebab , also rebap, rabab, rebeb, rababah, or al-rababa) is a type of string instrument so named no later than the 8th century and spread via Islamic trading routes over much of North Africa, the Middle East, parts of Europe, and the Far East...

and the Byzantine lyra
Byzantine lyra
The Byzantine lyra or lira , was a medieval bowed string musical instrument in the Byzantine Empire and is an ancestor of most European bowed instruments, including the violin. In its popular form the lyra was a pear-shaped instrument with three to five strings, held upright and played by stopping...

. The rebec was first referred to by that name around the beginning of the 14th century, though a similar instrument, usually called a lyra, had been played since around the 9th century.

The introduction of the rebab into Western Europe has possibly coincided with the conquest of Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 by the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

, in the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

. There is however evidence of the existence of bowed instruments in the 9th century also in Eastern Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

: the Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 geographer of the 9th century Ibn Khurradadhbih
Ibn Khordadbeh
Abu'l Qasim Ubaid'Allah ibn Khordadbeh , author of the earliest surviving Arabic book of administrative geography, was a Persian geographer and bureaucrat of the 9th century...

 cited the bowed Byzantine lira (or lūrā) as typical bowed instrument of the Byzantines and equivalent to the Arab rabāb.

The rebab was adopted as a key instrument in Arab classical music and in Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 a tradition of Arabo-Andalusian music has been kept alive by descendants of Muslims who left Spain as refugees following the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

. The rebab became a favourite instrument in the tea houses of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 The rebab was till the advent of the violin, the only bowed instrument in the Ottoman Empire.

A singular distinguishing feature of the rebec is that the bowl (or body) of the instrument is carved from a solid piece of wood. This distinguishes it from the later period vielles and gambas known in the renaissance.

Tuning

The number of strings on the rebec varies from 1 to 5,
although three is the most common number. The strings are often tuned in fifths
Interval (music)
In music theory, an interval is a combination of two notes, or the ratio between their frequencies. Two-note combinations are also called dyads...

, although this tuning is by no means universal. The instrument was originally in the treble range, like the violin, but later larger versions were developed, such that by the 16th century composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

s were able to write pieces for consorts
Consort of instruments
A consort of instruments was a phrase used in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to indicate an instrumental ensemble. These could be of the same or a variety of instruments. Consort music enjoyed considerable popularity at court and in households of the wealthy in the...

 of rebecs, just as they did for consorts of viol
Viol
The viol is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments developed in the mid-late 15th century and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Renaissance vihuela, a plucked instrument that preceded the...

s.

In use

In time, the viol came to replace the rebec, and the instrument was little used beyond the renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

 period. The instrument did remain in use by dance
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

 masters until the 18th century, however, often being used for the same purpose as the kit
Kit violin
The kit violin, dancing master's kit, or kit , is a stringed musical instrument. It is essentially a very small violin, designed to fit in a pocket — hence its other common name, the pochette...

, a small pocket-sized violin. The rebec also continued to be used in folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

, especially in eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. Andalusi nubah
Andalusi nubah
Andalusi nubah is a musical genre found in the North African Maghrib states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya but, as the name indicates, it has its origins in the Arabo-Andalusian music...

, a genre of music from North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, often includes the rebec.

Artists

  • The original Michael Nyman Band
    Michael Nyman Band
    The Michael Nyman Band, formerly known as the Campiello Band, is a group formed as a street band for a 1976 production of Carlo Goldoni's 1756 play, Il Campiello directed by Bill Bryden at the Old Vic...

     included a rebec before the band switched to a fully amplified lineup.
  • Les Cousins Branchaud
    Les Cousins Branchaud
    Les Cousins Branchaud are a traditional folk group from Sainte-Ursule, Quebec. The group is known for their energy on stage as they put their own spin on old classiques and original traditional-style songs.- History :...

    , a folk music
    Folk music
    Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

     group from Quebec
    Quebec
    Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

    , Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

    , includes a rebec player.
  • Ensemble Micrologus
    Ensemble Micrologus
    Ensemble Micrologus is an Italian group that performs vocal and instrumental medieval music, including both religious and secular pieces from the 12th to the 16th century in their repertoire....

    , an Italian
    Italy
    Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

     medieval music
    Medieval music
    Medieval music is Western music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century...

     group, has a member who performs on rebec.
  • Tina Chancey
    Tina Chancey
    Tina Chancey is a multi-instrumentalist specializing in early bowed strings from the rebec and vielle to the kamenj, viol and lyra viol. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts to support solo performances on the pardessus de viole at the Kennedy Center and Weill Recital...

     is a multi-instrumentalist specializing in early bowed strings like the rebec. She also plays in Hesperus
    Hesperus
    In Greek mythology, Hesperus is the Evening Star, the planet Venus in the evening. He is the son of the dawn goddess Eos and is the brother of Eosphorus , the Morning Star. Hesperus' Roman equivalent is Vesper...

    , an early music and folk music group.
  • Dominique Regef
    Dominique Regef
    Dominique Regef is a French improvisor, composer, and musician specializing in stringed instruments: the cello, the rebec, the vièle à archet, and the Rajasthan dilruba. Dominique Regef is recognized as an exceptional soloist on the hurdy-gurdy; he is known for surprising and moving audiences with...

     is a French
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     musician, composer and improvisor who performs on, among other instruments, the rebec.
  • Giles Lewin
    Giles Lewin
    Giles Lewin is a British violinist and bagpiper.He was born in Essex in 1960 or slightly earlier. Aged nine, he sang the female lead in Mozart's "Bastien et Bastienne". At Cambridge University he acquired a love of Irish traditional music. His admiration for William Lawes led him to join a group...

    , while being more famous for his work on violin and bagpipes, also plays the rebec in the Dufay Collective
    Dufay Collective
    The Dufay Collective is an early-music ensemble from the United Kingdom, specializing in Medieval and Renaissance music. Founded in 1987, it was named after the Renaissance composer Guillaume Dufay. The group is directed by William Lyons...

    .
  • Rossen Genkov is a rebec virtuoso. He appeared onstage with the Bulgarian band Epizod
    Epizod
    Epizod is a Bulgarian heavy metal band formed in 1988 in Sofia. The first songs of the band were inspired by the French poet François Villon. Epizod are famous in Bulgaria for their concerts which include theatre, an Orthodox church choir, and an ensemble for Bulgarian folk songs and dances.-...

    .
  • Sisters Shirley
    Shirley Collins
    Shirley Elizabeth Collins MBE is a British folksinger who was a significant contributor to the English Folk Revival of the 1960s and 1970s...

     and Dolly Collins
    Dolly Collins
    Dorothy Ann Collins, known as Dolly Collins , was an English folk musician, arranger and composer. She was the older sister of Shirley Collins....

     have released a number of albums that include the rebec.
  • Oni Wytars
    Oni Wytars
    Oni Wytars is an early music ensemble that was founded in 1983 by Marco Ambrosini and Peter Rabanser.- The Music :Appearing in concerts and at festivals throughout Europe, Americas, Middle- and Far East they perform music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance as well as classical and traditional Arab...

    , a European music group, often includes the rebec in their performances.
  • Helen Johnson plays the rebec, and its close relative the violetta, in the British early music group Cancionero
    Cancionero
    Cancionero is name of an early music ensemble based in the Sevenoaks and Maidstone area of Kent who perform the songs and dance music of the Middle Ages and also early Renaissance music from the Tudor court.-Current members:...

    .
  • Siba de Oliveira Veloso, from Mestre Ambrósio and Siba e a Fuloresta, and Antônio Nóbrega plays the rebec in a very Brazilian folcloric way, which has a large number of players in its north-east part.
  • Swedish progressive rock band Älgarnas Trädgård list rebec as an instrument used on their 1972 album 'FRAMTIDEN ÄR ETT SVÄVANDE SKEPP, FÖRANKRAT I FORNTIDEN'

The rebec in popular culture

Hugh Rebeck is a minor character in William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.Romeo and Juliet belongs to a...

, one of the musicians called by Peter in an oft-cut scene. Presumably, he is named for the instrument that he plays.

In a scene in Don Quixote, a goatherd entertains Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
Sancho Panza
Sancho Panza is a fictional character in the novel Don Quixote written by Spanish author Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in 1605. Sancho acts as squire to Don Quixote, and provides comments throughout the novel, known as sanchismos, that are a combination of broad humour, ironic Spanish proverbs,...

 by playing a rebeck and singing a love song.

A rebec featured prominently in one of Ellis Peters' (12th century) Brother Cadfael stories: Liliwin, the title character of The Sanctuary Sparrow, earned his living by playing that instrument. His rebec was damaged by a mob that accused him of murder, but one of the monks repaired it and returned to him at the end of the story.

'Rebec' is also a common name used to abbreviate the name Rebecca, it is a nickname for the female suffrage pioneer of New Zealand, Rebecca Lea.

See also

  • Byzantine lyra
    Byzantine lyra
    The Byzantine lyra or lira , was a medieval bowed string musical instrument in the Byzantine Empire and is an ancestor of most European bowed instruments, including the violin. In its popular form the lyra was a pear-shaped instrument with three to five strings, held upright and played by stopping...

    : the pear-shaped bowed stringed instrument of the Byzantine Empire.
  • Cretan lyra: The pear-shaped bowed instrument of Crete
    Crete
    Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

    , Greece
    Greece
    Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

    .
  • Dramyin
    Dramyin
    The dramyin or dranyen is a traditional Himalayan folk music lute with seven strings, used primarily as an accompaniment to singing in the Drukpa Buddhist culture and society in Bhutan, as well as in Tibet, Sikkim and Himalayan West Bengal. It is often used in religious festivals of Vajrayana...

    : a Himalayan
    Himalayas
    The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

     folk music instrument.
  • Kamencheh: a four-stringed instrument similar to the kemenche.
  • Kemenche: a three-stringed instrument from the Black Sea
    Black Sea
    The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

     region of Asia Minor
    Asia Minor
    Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

    .
  • Gadulka
    Gadulka
    The gadulka is a traditional Bulgarian bowed string instrument. Alternate spellings are "gudulka" and "g'dulka". Its name comes from a root meaning "to make noise, hum or buzz"...

    : a Bulgarian stringed instrument.

External links

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