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Subject: Al-Kindi, Music of Tunisia, Sawt (music), List of musical ensemble formats, Voice of the Turtle
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For other uses, see Oud (disambiguation).

Hornbostel–Sachs classification 321.321-6
(Composite chordophone sounded with a plectrum)
Related instruments


The Oud (/ˈd/; Arabic: عودʿūd, plural: أعواد, a‘wād; Armenian: ուդ, Assyrian:ܥܘܕ ūd, Greek: ούτι; Hebrew: עוּד; Persian: بربطbarbat; Kurdish: ûd; Turkish: ud or ut;[1] Azeri: ud; Somali: cuud or kaban) is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in Arabic, Hebrew/Jewish, Greek, Turkish, Byzantine, North African (Chaabi, Classical, and Andalusian), Somali and Middle Eastern music. Construction of the oud is similar to that of the lute.[2] The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths. The oud is readily distinguished by its lack of frets and smaller neck. It is considered an ancestor of the guitar.[3]

Origin of Name

The origin of the name oud (and its etymological cousin, lute) for the musical instrument is uncertain, but the Arabic العود (al-ʿūd) refers literally to a thin piece of wood similar to the shape of a straw, and may refer to the wooden plectrum traditionally used for playing the oud, to the thin strips of wood used for the back, or to the wooden soundboard that distinguished it from similar instruments with skin-faced bodies.[4] Recent research by Eckhard Neubauer suggests that oud may simply be an Arabic borrowing from the Persian name rud, which meant string, stringed instrument, or lute.[5][6]


According to Farabi, the oud was invented by Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam. The legend tells that the grieving Lamech hung the body of his dead son from a tree. The first oud was inspired by the shape of his son's bleached skeleton.[7]

The oldest pictorial record of a lute dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia (modern Nasiriyah city), over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon and currently housed at the British Museum.[8]

The Turkic peoples had a similar instrument called the kopuz. This instrument was thought to have magical powers and was brought to wars and used in military bands. This is noted in the Göktürk monument inscriptions, the military band was later used by other Turkic state's armies and later by Europeans.[9] According to musicologist Çinuçen Tanrıkorur today's oud was derived from the kopuz by Turks near Central Asia and additional strings were added by them.

The oud has a particularly long tradition in Iraq,[7] where a saying goes that in its music lies the country’s soul.[7] A ninth-century Baghdad jurist praised the healing powers of the instrument, and the 19th-century writer Muhammad Shihab al-Din related that it "places the temperament in equilibrium" and "calms and revives hearts."[7] Following the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of the secular Ba'athist regime in 2003, however, the increasing fervor of Islamic militants who consider secular music to be haraam (sinful) forced many oud players and teachers into hiding or exile.[7]

Playing techniques

A plectrum called a risha is used to play the oud. Traditionally the risha were made of eagle feathers and tortoise or sea-turtle shell as well as cowhorn. [10]Cowhorn rishas are commercially available today. The horns are sliced into strips and shaped, then sanded. Modern picks are also made of cellulose plastic. Those who prefer cowhorn rishas to plastic say they make a different quality of sound.[11]

See also


External links

  • Farabi School

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