- There are also several universities and organizations named UD. For the Dutch architect, see Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud. For the perfume or incense material, see Agarwood
Regarded as a precursor to the European lute, its name is derived from the Arabic word العود al-‘ūd 'the wood', which is probably the name of tree from which the oud was made. (The Arabic name, with the definite article, is the source of the word 'lute'.)
According to legend, 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. Historians however, believe that the oud was invented by the Mesopotamians between 1600 and 1150 BC. The oud was introduced into Europe by Zyriab, where it evolved into the lute and ultimately the guitar which we know today.
The oud's features are similar to the guitar: a sound box (on acoustic versions, but there are also solid body electric versions), five to eight pairs of strings (except the lowest string which is usually just a single string) which are called awtar (singular watar), a shorter neck (relative to the guitar) called al-raqeba, at least one hole (some have several) called al-qamaria, a bridge called al-ghazala, and keys for tuning the strings called mafateeh. The bridge and the strings are attached to the instrument in a similar fashion to the flamenco or classical guitar, i.e. knotted at the bridge. The soundbox of the oud is parabolic or pear shaped, that is, it doesn't have a straight back like the guitar.
Arabic ouds are constructed somewhat differently than those found in Turkey, Greece, and Armenia. Arabic ouds are somewhat deeper, have a longer neck, and are usually tuned differently than their Turkish-style counterparts. Turkish-style ouds have a brighter sound than Arabic ouds.
The pick for the oud is usually about the length of an index-finger. Arabic players refer to it as a reeshe or risha, while Turkish players refer to it as a mizrap. Traditionally it is made from a bird's feather, but these days plastic picks are used more often.
The oud plays an important role in most Arab and Turkish classical music because of its ability to beautifully express music in the Arabic system of maqam. The oud's fretless fingerboard allows players to more freely play the untempered intervals that are common to many maqams.
List of Well-Known Oud Players
- Jamil Bashir
- Munir Bashir
- John Bilezikjian
- Anouar Brahem
- Richard Hagopian
- Udi Hrant Kenkulian
- Marcel Khalife
- Rabih Abou-Khalil
- Charbel Rouhana
- Naseer Shamma
- Al-Oud/The Oud a website by Dr David Parfitt
- Oud on Encyclopedia of the Orient
- The Ud (Oud), its players and recordings
- Hub of Oud links on Wayne Cripps' lute site.
- Mike's Ouds, includes Oud Forums
- Oud Picks, Risha, Mizraps, Plectrumsar:عود