All About Oud Instrument
A musical instrument with a large belly, a short and curved handle, a beam and a plectrum. Its curved back is made of 19 or 21 boards in the shape of a circle. The body is hollow. In the middle of the front section called the chest, there are two small cavities on the sides called "roses".
Oud instrument (written as “ud” in Turkish) is the ancestor of the European lute, name of which derives from “al-ud”. It is not a native Turkish instrument but it has been played in Anatolia for at least five centuries. Besides, in the history, the oud has been played by several civilizations in Central Asia, Mesopotamia, Iran, Arabia. Accordingly, there are several types of ouds besides Turkish oud. The oud instrument occupies a great place in Turkish Art Music, Turkish urban music (in fasil orchestras) and in arabesk music. Oud has been known from the documents and oral tradition as the king, sultan or emir of musical instruments.
Oud instrument has a large soundbox connected to a short neck. The instrument has a pear-shaped body which is a deep, striped bowl made from lightweight wood. The wood should be light because the bowl is supposed to reverberate when it is struck. The soundboard, the front part of the body, contains one or two, sometimes three sound holes. These sound holes may be oval or they can be ornamented depending on the lands they are played on. There is a piece of fish-skin or leather between the bridge and the sound hole in order to protect the belly from the strokes of the plectrum. The bowl of the oud is shaped by thin woods or ribs bent over a mold. The number of the ribs varies from 16 to 21. The tuning pegs of the oud are screwed to the pegbox.
The quality of the material used in the making of the oud is important. The more the material is diverse, the better it sounds. A high-quality oud’s face is made from spruce. The tuning pegs and fingerboard are constructed from ebony. Maple, walnut, palisander and mahogany are used for the bowl.
The oud does not have any standard size or number of strings. Yet in general, all the types of ouds have 11 gut strings that are organized in five double-courses with a sixth, single bass string. Oud is played with a plectrum. Its fretless neck allows the instrument to generate any intervals or microtones particular to the Middle Eastern music. Oud instrument is suitable for you to enjoy Turkish, Iran or Arab music by playing makams/maqamat.
Oud is played according to two schools of performance. The first is “Ottoman” school and it accepts as principle the ornamentation of the sound, produced by delicate glissandos or the fingers and slight vibratos. The second approach is Egyptian approach, according to which the volume is amplified by firm strokes of the plectrum, which makes strings resonate. This style requires another kind of virtuosity.
There are essentially six types of oud when they are considered according to their origin. Those types of oud mostly differ in their timbre and there are small size differences between them.
Arabic oud is the most known oud instrument type and maybe the most popular because of its romantic, rich and deep sound. It is heavier and slightly bigger comparing to Turkish ouds. Turkish ouds are employed in Turkey and Greece. They have a more treble sound. Syrian oud, which is a sub-type of Arabic oud generates lots of overtones. Iraqi ouds may also be classified under Arabic ouds. Its strings are tied to the bottom of the instrument. Because of this feature, it is said that it has a floating bridge. Iranian oud, which is also called Barbat is more distinct and due to its shape, it has a bass, deep, Persian sound.
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The Structure of Oud
Oud instrument as well as Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and in all Arab countries, including Algeria, Armenia, Iran and used in large-bodied, short-necked stringed instrument. It is also known as “barbat” in Iran. There is no structural difference from that used in other countries of the oud lute used in Turkey.
The body of the Arabian ouds is usually slightly larger, and the breasts often have only one large hole instead of two small holes. In both Turkish and Arabic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek ouds, these circular chest holes are decorated with roses. Oud has preserved its present structure for nearly a thousand years with exception of a few minor changes.
20 large crescent-shaped wooden slices form the large pear body of the instrument that fills the human lap. The short, flat handle is attached to the body through a wedge. The width of the handle, which narrows towards the screw, is about four fingers wide at the junction of the body. The auger, which makes an angle of about 45 ° with the handle, draws an indistinct S and the augers enter it from the side. Five wires other than Bam wire are double. The bottom two pairs are made from the line, while today they are made of fishing line.
Other wires are silver or copper wound on silk. Each wire exits the wire wedge directly adhered to the chest, wraps around its own auger by overcoming the head sill at the junction of the handle.
The chest of the oud is a uniform fibrous sheet of spruce wood, about 1 mm thick. Slats that support the chest from below are called "balconies". The layout of the balconies is closely related to the sonority of the instrument.
In the past, winding wires were used as wire, beams, silk inside and silver wire outside. Today, nylon wires have taken the sweat of the beam wires. Oud was used to play with chicken and eagle wings. Some masters used it in plectrums made of hard leather or cherry bark. Today, plastic plectrums are used.