The origin of the musical instrument “Oud”

After the enormous worldwide popularity of “Ukulele“,  it is being considered that now it is the time for “Oud” from the family of acoustic string instruments, be it to the musicians or the listeners, or in the popular visual culture like modern day ethnic music videos, popular song sequences from mainstream movies etc. Oud is an acoustic, oval shaped string instrument made of curved wood. It has usually 11 strings, grouped in 6 courses, where 10 strings are grouped in pairs, tuned in respective notes and the remaining string is tuned in the lowest note among them. Look wise it is very similar to western Lutes with a peg-box having a bent of 45°-90° angle, a fretless finger board and bowl-like wooden body.

Popularly it said that the origin

n of the instrument is broadly Middle East and Central Africa, there are many versions regarding its origin. According to some historians the earlier appearance of Oud can be traced back to 2350 BC Babylon. There is another version of scientist Al Farabi, Oud dates back to period of Lamech, the sixth generation of Adam which indicates the first appearance of Oud might be 3000 BC.

In another version Oud is considered as the precursor of Western Lute. The main difference is the fingerboard. Lute was popularized in the medieval Europe and it has a fretted fingerboard, whereas Oud has no fret on it. In 711 AD the moors, inhabitants of northwest Africa of that time migrated to Spain and they brought with them the Oud.

Some sculptures and old scriptures from Northen Bactria in 100 BC, suggest that the instrument was developed in that time together with the influence of the Persian instrument Barbat and Greek Greek Barbiton.

It is also said that back in those ancient days Oud was played in secret places and temples the players required great skill because of its fretless fingerboard. There are also interesting anecdotes available regarding the origin of this magnificent instrument and the most famous one among those is human once asked the devil to take all their instruments and make a perfect instrument in exchange and the conclusion was the Oud.

However, more realistically the modern day Arabic Oud can be traced back to its Arabic origin as the name of the instrument i.e “Oud” means “wood” in Arabic language. The mystery still remains – what about the origin of the modern day Turkish Oud or Iraqi Oud? Actually it’s really hard to trace back the specific origin of an instrument having such a prehistoric root and no wonder why it was popularly known as the “Sultan of all string instruments.”

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