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For other uses, see Oud (disambiguation)
Front and rear views of an oud. This one was built by Viken Najarian.

The oud, (Arabic: العود) (Persian: عود) (Turkish: ud or ut[1]) (Greek: Ούτι) is a pear-shaped, stringed instrument, still in use in traditional Middle Eastern music and East African music.


[edit] History

The oud is often regarded as a precursor to the European lute. In reality both of these instruments descend from a common ancestor.

The words 'lute' and 'oud' may have derived from Arabic العود al‘ud, "the wood", though recent research by Eckhard Neubauer suggests that ‘ud may simply be an Arabized version of the Persian name rud, which meant string, stringed instrument, or lute. Gianfranco Lotti suggests that the "wood" appellation originally carried derogatory connotations, because of proscriptions of all instrumental music in early Islam.

According to Farabi, an Iranian philosopher of Turkic descent, the oud was invented by Lamak, the sixth grandson of Adam. The legend tells that the grieving Lamak hung the body of his dead son from a tree. The first oud was inspired by the shape of his son's bleached skeleton.

The oldest pictorial record of a lute dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia, over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal currently housed at the British Museum and acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon. The image depicts a female crouching with her instruments upon a boat, playing right-handed. This instrument appears hundreds of times throughout Mesopotamian history and again in ancient Egypt from the 18th dynasty onwards in long and short-neck varieties. One may see such examples at the Metropolitan Museums of New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and the British Museum on clay tablets and papyrus paper. This instrument and its close relatives have been a part of the music of each of the civilizations that have existed in the Mediterranean and Gulf regions, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans. The ancient Turkic peoples who were also a part of the Huns had a similar instrument called the Kopuz. This instrument was thought to have magical powers and was brought to wars and used in a military band. This is noted in the Gok Turk monument inscriptions, the military band was later used by other Turkic state's armies and later by Europeans.<ref>See Köprülü, Fuad, Türk Edebiyatında İlk Mutasavvıflar (First Sufis in Turkish Literature), Ankara University Press, Ankara 1966, pp. 207, 209.; Gazimihal, Mahmud Ragıb, Ülkelerde Kopuz ve Tezeneli Sazlarımız, Ankara University Press, Ankara 1975, p. 64. and Musiki Sözlüğü (Dictionary of Music), M.E.B. İstanbul 1961, pp. 138, 259, 260.; Sachs, Curt, The History of Musical Instruments, New York 1940, p. 252.</ref>

[edit] Defining features

  • Lack of Frets: The oud, unlike many other plucked stringed instruments, does not have a fretted neck. This allows the player to be more expressive by using slides and vibrato. It also makes it easier to play the microtones of the Maqam System. This development is relatively recent, as ouds still had frets ca. AD 1100, and they gradually lost them by AD 1300, mirroring the general development of Near-Eastern music which abandoned harmony in favor of melismatics.
  • Strings: With some exceptions, the oud has eleven strings. Ten of these strings are paired together in courses of two. The eleventh, lowest string remains single. There are many different tuning systems for the oud which are outlined below.
  • Pegbox: The pegbox of the oud is bent back at a 45-90° angle from the neck of the instrument.
  • Body: The oud's body has a staved, bowl-like back resembling the outside of half a watermelon, unlike the flat back of a guitar. This bowl allows the oud to resonate and have a more complex tone.
  • Sound-holes: The oud generally has one to three sound-holes.

[edit] Regional types

  • Arabic ouds: Slightly larger, slightly longer neck, lower in pitch.
  • Turkish-Style ouds ("ud") (Includes instruments found in Armenia and Greece): Slightly smaller in size, slightly shorter neck, higher in pitch, brighter timbre.
  • Greek "Laouto" and "Lavta": Although these instruments appear to look much like an oud, they are very different in playing style and origin, deriving from Byzantine lutes. The laouto is mainly a chordal instrument, with occasional melodic use in Cretan music. Both are always fretted (unlike the oud). On the contrary, the traditional oud can be found in use by some early Greek musicians and it is known as the outi.

[edit] Plectrum (pick)

The plectrum (pick) for the oud is usually a little more than the length of an index-finger. Arabic players refer to it as a reeshe or risha, while Turkish players refer to it as a mızrap. Traditionally it is made from an eagle's feather or tortoise shell, however, plastic picks are much more commonly found today, and are considered just as effective and much cheaper. Oud players take very seriously the quality of their plectrums, often making their own out of other plastic objects, and taking great care to sand down any sharp edges in order to achieve the best sound possible.

[edit] Oud tunings

There are many different tuning options for the oud. All tunings are presented from the lowest course/single string to the highest course. The following tunings are from Lark in the Morning and Oud Cafe:

[edit] Arabic oud tunings

  • G A D G C F, This is the most commonly used tuning.
  • D G A D G C
  • C F A D G C
  • C E A D G C
  • F A D G C F

[edit] Turkish oud ("ud") and Cümbüş tunings

  • Old Turkish Classical Tuning: A D E A D G
  • New Turkish Classical Tuning: F# B E A D G
  • Turkish\Armenian Style Tuning: E A B E A D
  • Turkish\Armenian Style Tuning Variant: C# F# B E A D
  • Standard Cümbüş Tuning: D E A D G C

[edit] List of famous oud players

[edit] List of famous oud makers

  • Faruk Turunz (Turkey)
  • [Mohammed Fadehl] (Iraq)
  • [Yaroub Fadhel] (Iraq) Making ouds in Tunisia

[edit] External links

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