The most famous musical instrument of Iraq is the oud. It is widely spread over the Arabic world and the north of Africa. Its sound vibrates within the hollow body and is the typical soundtrack of the near and middle east.
In its Arabian origin the oud is known as the king of instruments. It is considered to be the oldest musical instrument in its region of use and the name derives from the Arabian term for “wood”. It is central to tradition in eastern music. Its shape is very peculiar. A large and round soundbox is connected to a short neck.
Rounded back, up to three sound holes and a fretless neck
The typical shape of the oud consists of its rounded back and the fretless neck. Up to three sound holes are a very typical characteristic of the Arabian instrument which distinguishes it from western instruments like the guitar or the violin.
A bent peg box
The pear-shaped body and its sound are unique to the oud. Materials used during the process of building it are lightwood, wood staves and a flat sheet of wood. It consists of 11 strings and the peg box is bent back up to 90 degrees towards the player.
The European lute
The strings of the oud are plucked with a plectrum which controls resonance, volume and intensity. It is similar to the European lute and was brought to Europe by the Moors and the crusaders. Mythology has it, that the oud was once invented by an ancestor of Adam.
Decoration and the Uruk period
The oldest picture of an oud dates back to the Uruk period which had its name given by the ancient city of Uruk. Decoration has always been a big tradition and was a sign of the wealth of the player. The oud is still very popular among players around the world and has been famously integrated into several musical styles such as Jazz, Ambient and world music.
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