Definition and background:
A bowed stringed instrument with seven courses of strings, a little larger than the viola. Each course of strings contains two strings, one that is actually bowed, and one that "sympathizes" with the first. The sympathetic string is not directly bowed, but is set into vibration by the close proximity it has to the string. The range of the instrument is from B below the bass clef to A above the treble clef.Used principally in the 17th and 18th centuries, is a bowed instrument generally with seven bowed strings and seven sympathetic strings, tuned to vibrate in sympathy with the playing strings. The instrument has a peculiar resonance of its own and has a small but interesting modern repertoire.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary