An instrument similar to the Mellotron, the tape-bow violin is a violin with the strings and bridge replaced by a tape playback head (presumably either quite wide or with tape guides). It is played with a 'bow' that holds a long strip of magnetic tape with an audio sample recorded on it. Of course, having the bow directly manipulated by the user means that some interesting sample effects can be created.
The tape-bow violin was invented by Laurie Anderson (born 1948, Chicago, Illinois) Anderson studied sculpture at Columbia University and engaged in various performance artworks while at college. After qualifying, she remained in New York where she met Philip Glass. During work with a number of electronic musicians, Anderson designed the tape-bow violin. Anderson is most famous for her hit single O Superman, which was a small part of her huge United States I-IV series. Anderson's latest work involves collaberation with Brian Eno and Lou Reed.
Ref: Music Engineering - The Electronics Of Playing And Recording, Richard Brice, 1998