Rabāba [rababah, rapapa]
- Christian Poché
Bowl lyre with five (occasionally six) strings, used in Eritrea (Ethiopia) and the Sudan, where the term is a generic one for the lyre. The instrument is also known in Zaïre and Uganda as rababah or rapapa, mostly with five strings, with or without bridge and with very small soundholes recalling those of the Ethiopian krar; some instruments have eight strings, no bridge and a single soundhole. The rababa is played by the Bari people of Zaïre and the same instrument is called tum by the Bari of the Sudan. At Omdurman (Sudan), the six-string rabāba lyre is central to what is called ṭambūra worship.
The rabāba has a hemispherical soundbox covered with cow-, antelope-, lamb- or (in Zaïre) lizard-hide; two arms extend from this and fit exactly on a cross-bar on to which the strings are wound, with or without strips of material. In the Zaïre models the soundbox may be oval or even rectangular. The tuning is anhemipentatonic....