Oud: what is it, instrument history, composition, use

Oud: what is it, instrument history, composition, use

One of the ancestors of the European lute is the oud. This instrument is widely used in Muslim and Arab countries.

What is oud

Oud is a stringed musical instrument. Class – plucked chordophone.

Oud: what is it, instrument history, composition, use


The tool has a long history. The first images of similar chordophones date back to the 8th century BC. The images were found on the territory of modern Iran.

In the era of the Sassanid Empire, the lute-like instrument barbat gained popularity. The oud came from a combination of barbat constructions with the ancient Greek barbiton. In the XNUMXth century, the Muslim country of Iberia became the main manufacturer of the chordophone.

The Arabic name for the instrument “al-udu” has 2 meanings. The first is a string, the second is a swan neck. Arab peoples associate the shape of the oud with the neck of a swan.

Tool device

The structure of ouds includes 3 parts: body, neck, head. Outwardly, the body resembles a pear fruit. Production material – walnut, sandalwood, pear.

The neck is made from the same wood as the body. The peculiarity of the neck is the absence of frets.

The headstock is attached to the end of the neck. It has a peg mechanism with attached strings. The number of strings of the most common Azerbaijani version is 6. The material of manufacture is silk thread, nylon, cattle intestines. On some versions of the instrument, they are paired.

Oud: what is it, instrument history, composition, use

The Armenian types of chordophone are distinguished by an increased number of strings up to 11. The Persian version has 12. In Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the chordophone has the fewest strings – 5.

Arabic models are larger than Turkish and Persian ones. The scale length is 61-62 cm, while the scale length of the Turkish one is 58.5 cm. The sound of the Arabic oud differs in depth due to the more massive body.


Musicians play the oud in a similar way to the guitar. The body is placed on the right knee, supported by the right forearm. The left hand clamps the chords on the fretless neck. The right hand holds a plectrum, which extracts sound from the strings.

Standard chordophone tuning: D2-G2-A2-D3-G3-C4. When using paired strings, the order of adjacent strings is duplicated. Neighboring notes sound the same, creating a richer sound.

The oud is mainly used in folk music. Variety performers sometimes use it in their performances. Farid al-Atrash, an Egyptian singer and composer, actively used oud in his work. Popular songs of Farid: Rabeeh, Awal Hamsa, Hekayat Gharami, Wayak.

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