Name: Oud.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: Many.
Regions: Many, Middle East & North Africa.

Description: The oud [in Arabic: عود‎ in Syriac: ʿūd in IPA: ʕuːd] as a wide spread lute bares numerous alternate names often many of the names are regional. The names include include [in Arabic: عود‎ ʿūd or ʿoud or plural: أعواد aʿwād]; in Armenian: ուդ or ud ; in Greek:  oúti ; in Hebrew: [עוּד‎ ud] ; in Persian: بربط‎ barbat. Although the barbat is a different lute instrument. In Turkish the oud is called ud or ut ; in Azeri [ ud]: and in Somali: cuud or kaban.

The scholars Iraqi [Robson, 1938] and the second Iranian [Mas’udi, 1874]. They posited a view; that the ud was invented by Lamak [sixth grandson of Adam], a direct descendant of Cain; on the death of Lamak’s son, he hung his remains in a tree, and the desiccated skeleton suggested the form of the ud. The myth attributes the invention of the mi’zaf [lyre] to Lamak’s daughter.” Stanley Sadie: The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, vol. 3, p. 688.

History: Written documentation of the oud was given by the 11th-century musician, singer and author Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham [c. 965 – c. 1040] in his compendium on music Ḥāwī al-Funūn wa Salwat al-Maḥzūn. The first known complete description of the ‛ūd and its construction is found in the [in Arabic: رسالة في لوين ونا النغم epistle Risāla fī-l-Luḥūn wa-n-Nagham] by 9th-century Philosopher Yaʻqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī.

Stretching from North Africa, Sudan, Horn of Africa, Zanzibar a lead melodic instrument in the genre of Tarab, the Middle East including Yemen and as far as Southeast Asia [notably Malaysia and Indonesia]. This instrument has been played for thousands of years. It is the direct ancestor of the European lute. The oldest surviving oud is thought to be in Brussels, at the Museum of Musical Instruments.

In Pre-Islamic Arabia and Mesopotamia, the oud had only three strings, with a small body and a long neck without any tuning pegs. But during the Islamic era the musical box was enlarged, a fourth string was added, and the base for the tuning pegs [Bunjuk] or pegbox was added.

In the first centuries of [pre-Islamic] Arabian civilization, the oud had four courses; one string per course — double-strings came later] tuned in successive fourths. Curt Sachs said they were called from lowest to highest pitch bamm, maṭlaṭ, maṭnā and zīr.

As early as the ninth century a fifth string ḥād [“sharp”] was sometimes added “to make the range of two octaves complete”. It was highest in pitch, placed lowest in its positioning in relation to other strings.

Modern tuning preserves the ancient succession of fourths, adjacent pitches, the lowest or highest courses may be tuned differently following regional or personal preferences. Sachs gives one tuning for this arrangement of five pairs of strings G / D / E / A / D.

Historical sources indicate that Ziryab [789–857] added a fifth string to his oud. He was well-known for founding a school of music in Andalusia, one of the places where the oud or lute entered Europe. Another mention of the fifth string was made by Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham in Ḥāwī al-Funūn wa Salwat al-Maḥzūn.

Oud Tunings
Names Tunings
Kurt Sachs [documented by] G D E A D
Syria / Arabic C F A D G C
Syria / Arabic  D G A D G C
Standard C E A D G C
Oud with 12 strings  F A D G C F
Egyptian F A D G C
Egyptian G A D G C
Egyptian E A D G C
Iraqi / Bashir C D G CF F
Iraqi / Bashir F C D G C F
Turkish  E A B E A D
Turkish C# F# B E A D
Turkish D A B E A D
Turkish D G B E A D

Citations: Bibliography: Sachs, Curt 1940, The History of Musical Instruments – New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 254 ; Stanley Sadie: The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, vol. 3, p. 688. Websites: Online Encyclopedia of Tunings ; Oudcafe.com / Stringing and tuning ;

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