Other Instruments – Fiddle
The term Fiddle may be used to refer to a violin or any member of a general category of similar stringed instruments played with a horsehair bow, such as the Hardanger fiddle, the Byzantine lira, the Chinese erhu, the Welsh crwth, the Apache Tzii’edo’ a ‘tl, the cello in the context of a Scottish violin/cello duo (“wee fiddle and big fiddle”), the double bass (“bull fiddle” or “bass fiddle”), and so on.
The medieval fiddle emerged in 10th-century Europe, deriving from the Byzantine lira, a bowed string instrument of the Byzantine Empire and ancestor of most European bowed instruments. The Lira spread widely westward to Europe; in the 11th and 12th centuries European writers use the terms fiddle and lira interchangeably when referring to bowed instruments.
Over the centuries, Europe continued to have two distinct types of fiddles: one, relatively square-shaped, held in the arms, became known as the lira da braccio (arm viol) family and evolved into the violin; the other, with sloping shoulders and held between the knees, was the lira da gamba (leg viol) group.