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Front and rear views of an oud
(Composite chordophone sounded with a plectrum)
The Oud (pron.: //; Arabic: عود ʿūd, plural: أعواد, a‘wād; Armenian: ուդ, Assyrian:ܥܘܕ ūd, Greek: ούτι; Hebrew: עוּד; Persian: بربط barbat; Kurdish: ûd; Turkish: ud or ut; Azeri: ud; Somali: cuud or kaban) is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in Arabic, Hebrew/Jewish, Greek, Turkish, Byzantine, North African (Chaabi, Classical, and Andalusian), Somali and Middle Eastern music. Construction of the oud is similar to that of the lute. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths. The oud is readily distinguished by its lack of frets and smaller neck. It is considered an ancestor of the guitar.
The origin of the name oud (and its etymological cousin, lute) for the musical instrument is uncertain, but the Arabic العود (al-ʿūd) refers literally to a thin piece of wood similar to the shape of a straw, and may refer to the wooden plectrum traditionally used for playing the oud, to the thin strips of wood used for the back, or to the wooden soundboard that distinguished it from similar instruments with skin-faced bodies. Recent research by Eckhard Neubauer suggests that oud may simply be an Arabic borrowing from the Persian name rud, which meant string, stringed instrument, or lute.
According to Farabi, the oud was invented by Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam. The legend tells that the grieving Lamech hung the body of his dead son from a tree. The first oud was inspired by the shape of his son's bleached skeleton.
The oldest pictorial record of a lute dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia (modern Nasiriyah city), over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon and currently housed at the British Museum.
The Turkic peoples had a similar instrument called the kopuz. This instrument was thought to have magical powers and was brought to wars and used in military bands. This is noted in the Göktürk monument inscriptions, the military band was later used by other Turkic state's armies and later by Europeans. According to musicologist Çinuçen Tanrıkorur today's oud was derived from the kopuz by Turks near Central Asia and additional strings were added by them.
The oud has a particularly long tradition in Iraq, where a saying goes that in its music lies the country’s soul. A ninth-century Baghdad jurist praised the healing powers of the instrument, and the 19th century writer Muhammad Shihab al-Din related that it "places the temperament in equilibrium" and "calms and revives hearts." Following the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of the secular Ba'athist regime in 2003, however, the increasing fervor of Islamic militants who consider secular music to be haraam (sinful) forced many oud players and teachers into hiding or exile.
See also 
- Arabic music
- Byzantine music
- Hebrew music
- Somali music
- Armenian music
- Middle Eastern and North African music traditions
- List of oud makers
- List of oud players
- Güncel Türkçe Sözlük'te Söz Arama (Turkish)
- Mottola, R.M. (Summer, Fall 2008). "Constructing the Middle Eastern Oud with Peter Kyvelos". American Lutherie (94, 95).
- Summerfield, Maurice J. (2003). The Classical Guitar, Its Evolution, Players and Personalities Since 1800 (5th ed.) Blaydon on Tyne: Ashley Mark Publishing. ISBN 1-872639-46-1
- During, Jean. "'Barbat'". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
- Douglas Alton Smith. A History of the Lute from Antiquity to the Renaissance. p. 9. Lute Society of America (LSA), 2002. ISBN 0-9714071-0-X.
- "Asian Music Tribal Music of India, 32, 1, Fall, 2000/ Winter, 2001". Utexas.edu. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
- Erica Goode (May 1, 2008). "A Fabled Instrument, Suppressed in Iraq, Thrives in Exile". New York Times.
- MITRA JAHANDIDEH, SHAHAB KHAEFI, AHANALI JAHANDIDEH, MASOUD KHAEFI, "Using the Root Proportion to Design an Oud", Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Art, Tehran University, Tehran, IRAN, http://www.wseas.us/e-library/conferences/2010/Iasi/AMTA/AMTA-05.pdf.
- Fuad Köprülü, Türk Edebiyatında İlk Mutasavvıflar (First Sufis in Turkish Literature), Ankara University Press, Ankara 1966, pp. 207, 209.; Gazimihal; Mahmud Ragıb, Ülkelerde Kopuz ve Tezeneli Sazlarımız, Ankara University Press, Ankara 1975, p. 64.; Musiki Sözlüğü (Dictionary of Music), M.E.B. İstanbul 1961, pp. 138, 259, 260.; Curt Sachs, The History of Musical Instruments, New York 1940, p. 252.
Media related to Ouds at Wikimedia Commons