Viol da gamba

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The viol da gamba (or viola da gamba) family of instruments is related to the fiddle, violin, rebec, etc. It is fretted, has 6 strings, and is held upright, between the legs, when played. The bow is held underhand. The name viol da gamba means "viol of the leg" in Italian.

The gamba (as it is often foreshortened) comes in 4 sizes: treble, tenor, bass, and double bass. The treble is about the size of a violin; the bass is a bit smaller than a cello.

Gamba consorts were common in the 16th and 17th centuries. The bass viola da gamba continued to be used (as a solo instrument) into the 18th century; composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Karl Friedrich Abel wrote music for it. In the modern era, the viola da gamba has been revived by early music enthusiasts.