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VIELLE, viole, viele, a French term, derived from Lat. fidicula, embracing two distinct types of instruments: (i) from the 12th to the beginning of the 15th century bowed instruments having a box-soundchest with ribs, (2) from the middle or end of the 15th century, the hurdy-gurdy (q.v.). The medieval word vielle or viele has often been incorrectly applied to the latter instrument by modern writers when dealing with the 13th and 14th centuries. The instruments included under the name of vielle, whatever form their outline assumed, always had the box-soundchest consisting of back and belly joined by ribs, which experience has pronounced the most perfect construction for bowed instruments. The most common shape given to the earliest vielles in France was an oval, which with its modifications remained in favour until the guitar-fiddle, the Italian lyra, asserted 'itself as the finest type, from which also the violin was directly evolved. (K. S.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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