Rabeca is the name of the Brazilian fiddle. Usually a 3 or 4-stringed instrument, it is used in a variety of musical and cultural activities across Brazil, including forró, cavalomarinho, fandango, folia de reis, marujada, and bandeira do divino. The rabeca has been present in Brazil since early european colonization, but what sets it apart from the violin is (in part) the way it is played, the musical repertoire, and diversification of construction techniques among regional communities. To date, there has never been factory production of rabecas, so each instrument is handmade by a particular artisan, with much diversity from maker to maker— in fact, each instrument is unique and a universe unto itself!
Most violin players with experience in folk traditions can easily adapt to playing the rabeca. While rabeca is most associated with forró outside of Brazil, rabeca traditions provide an entry point into Brazil’s diverse folk musics.