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Well, Oliver.. While I am not a musical historian by any means, I would say you were correct with the idea that bowed stringed instruments first appeared in the Orient. Further east than Arabia, though.
Before the rebec, there was the Arabic rebab which was known in the 8th century. But before that, there was the chuurqin in Mongolia that may date back to 600 AD or before.
The viol family of instruments though, isn't usually considered to have evolved until the 15th century. I don't know how they figure such stuff. But the rebec definitely looks like a "family member" of the violin/fiddle to me. It was tuned and played similar enough. The rebab and chuurqin and things like the morin huur and the erhu are maybe played differently enough to call a separate family of instruments, but the rebec? Looks like an early fiddle/violin type instrument to me.
I was looking into the construction and history of some of the early bowed strings, particularly the rebec, since I've been toying with the idea of maybe making one or something like one. They look like fun to play. LOL
"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman
You may have seen this before but that bow picture represents part of an available kit.
I'm always impressed by the older instruments and how inseparable has been music and the human experience. (Particularly with musical scales that my Western ears will never fathom
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