The Oud (/ˈuːd/; Arabic: عود ʿūd, plural: أعواد, a‘wād; Armenian: ուդ, Assyrian:ܥܘܕ ūd, Greek: ούτι; Hebrew: עוּד; Persian: بربط barbat; Kurdish: ûd; Turkish: ud or ut; 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. 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 also considered an ancestor of the guitar.
Origin of the 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.
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.
The oldest pictorial record of a lute dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia (modern Nasiriyah city “الناصرية”), over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon and currently housed at the British Museum.
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. 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, where a saying goes that in its music lies the country’s soul. A ninth-century Baghdad jurist praised the healing powers of the instrument, and the 19th century writer Muhammad Shihab al-Din “محمد شهاب الدين” related that it “places the temperament in equilibrium” and “calms and revives hearts.”
– Excerpts from From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia –
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