CfP Rabab & Rebec – Skin-Covered Bowed String Instruments of the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance and their Non-European Relatives

Marina Haiduk's picture
Call for Papers
September 30, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies, Music and Music History

CfP Rabab & Rebec – Skin-Covered Bowed String Instruments of the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance and their Non-European Relatives

Conference in Bern, Hochschule der Künste (HKB), Friday 28 to Sunday 30 April 2023

Organised by the Bern Academy of the Arts (HKB), Institute Interpretation, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)

Since 2019, the skin-covered bowed string instruments rabab and rebec have been a subject of investigation as part of a four-year interdisciplinary SNSF research project at the Hochschule der Künste Bern ( The rabab and rebec both belonged among the most important bowed string instruments of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, before the "new" viola da gamba and violin instruments took their place around 1500. In numerous non-European musical cultures, however, skin-covered string instruments are still played today. During the conference, we will present the theoretical and practical research results of our project and aim to contrast these with further research on the same and related topics from the fields of musicology, organology, ethnomusicology, performance practice, acoustics, art history, music iconography, archaeology and cultural transfer in order to discuss them together. Selected papers will subsequently be published in book form (open access).

Possible topics:

• The Rabab and the skin-covered rebec in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance

• The spread of the rabab and the skin-covered rebec in Europe and beyond

• Music iconography as a method between musicology and art history

• Representations of the rabab and the rebec and their iconographic contexts

• Music-making angels in Christian iconography of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

• Other stringed instruments of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance and their relationship to the skin-covered Rabab and Rebec

• Construction, playing technique and repertoire of the Rabab and Rebec

• Repertoire and performance practice indications in the written sources (e.g. in Simone Prodenzani's II Saporetto)

• Experimental archaeology as a reconstruction method for musical instruments

• Manufacture and material-technical properties of skin/parchment

• Acoustic properties of skin-covered string instruments

• Ethnomusicological sources (also contemporary) on skin-covered string instruments

• Historical musicology and ethnomusicology. Methodological considerations for the linking of ethnomusicological sources with historical European sources

Call for Papers

Papers should last 20 minutes (followed by 10 min. discussion). The official conference languages are German, English and French.

Submissions should include the title and an abstract (max. 2000 characters incl. spaces), and the name, affiliation, contact information and short CV of the speaker (max. 1000 characters incl. spaces for the CV). Please email your abstract or proposal for a poster by 30 September 2022 to The confirmation of accepted papers and posters will be announced by 31 October 2022. The conference is planned as a face-to-face event.

Contact Info: 


Submit your proposals to the head of project, Thilo Hirsch <>.

For further questions, please contact the project's postdoctoral researcher, Marina Haiduk <>.


Contact Email: