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vielle

medieval European bowed, stringed musical instrument. The medieval fiddle, a forerunner of the violin, emerged in 10th-century Europe, possibly deriving from the lira, a Byzantine version of the rabab, an Arab bowed instrument. Medieval fiddles varied in size and shape but characteristically had front or back tuning pegs set in a flat and round or heart-shaped peg disk with three to five strings tuned in fifths (as c-g-d', etc.). The body was often waisted.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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