rebec (rēˈbĕk) [key], one of the earliest forms of the violin. It was pear-shaped, had from three to five strings, and possessed a strident tone. Its use, which began in the 13th cent., was to play melodies of popular songs and dance music, accompanied by percussion. The rebec, prevalent in European medieval and early Renaissance music, developed from the Arab instrument, the rehāb.
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