The Rabab is a popular stringed instru¬ment of the plucked variety found all over the Middle East. The Indian Rabab is used principally in Kashmir, Punjab and Afghanistan. The instrument is made of wood. It has a double belly, the first being covered with parchment and the second with wood. There are four strings; the two upper strings are sometimes doubled in which case the instrument has six strings. A number of sympathetic strings of metal run beneath the main strings. There are four or five frets made of gut tied round the fingerboard at semitonic intervals and the instrument is played with a plectrum. The tone resembles that of a banjo and no meend or glissando is possible on this instrument.
It appears that the Indian Rabab ex¬ercised a very considerable influence on the history of stringed instruments in the West, since it was through it that the bow was introduced to the West. The Rabab became the rebec of Persia and Arabia to which the parentage of the violin family is ascribed. The peculiar shape of the violin and viola etc.
Very nearly resembles that of the Rabab. The shallow pinched belly of the rabab was apparently designed to facilitate bowing though the Indian Rabab still remains a plucked instrument. It is popularly believed that the famous Tansen of Akbar’s court used to play a kind of Rabab. The disciples of Tansen divided themselves into two groups, the Rababiyas and the binkars. The former used the Rabab while the latter used the bin (northern veena). Among the great masters, Pyar Khan, Bahadur Khan and Bahadur Sain were highly competent rababiyas.