The viol or viola da gamba is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments that first appeared in Spain in the mid to late 15th century and was most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Early ancestors include the Arabic rebab and the medieval European vielle, but later, more-direct possible ancestors include the Venetian viole and the 15th- and 16th-century Spanish vihuela, a 6-course plucked instrument tuned like a lute (and also like a present-day viol) that looked like but was quite distinct from the (at that time) 4-course guitar (an earlier chordophone).
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