String Instruments

The History of the Oud: From Ancient Egypt to Modern Day


The oud is a musical instrument that originated in the Middle East and has been playing a crucial role in the region’s music for centuries. It is a pear-shaped stringed instrument that is mostly used in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish music. In this article, we will take a closer look at the fascinating history of the oud from ancient times to the present day.

The Origins of the Oud

The oud is believed to have originated in ancient Mesopotamia, which is modern-day Iraq, around 3000 BCE. It was initially known as the barbat, and it was primarily used in the court of Persian kings. The oud then spread to countries like Egypt, Syria, and Greece, where it underwent significant changes and improvements, which shaped the modern-day oud’s design. Boma Music recognizes that the oud’s creation has a complex and interesting history that has allowed it to become a core instrument in ethnic music.

The Oud in Arab, Turkish, and Persian Music

The oud has a unique sound that has made it an indispensable instrument in the music of the Middle East. In Arab music, the oud is considered the ‘King of Instruments’ because of the depth and variety of its tone. It can produce soft, melancholic melodies, as well as lively and cheerful tunes. In Turkish music, the oud is widely used in Classical Ottoman music and Turkish folk music. In Persian music, the oud is used to create a lyrical sound that accompanies a range of vocal styles, such as qawwali.

The Oud in Modern Music and Final Thoughts

The oud’s versatility and unique sound have enabled it to maintain its place in modern-day music genres. It has been used in fusion music, where musicians mix Eastern and Western sounds, to create fresh and exciting new music. Additionally, many contemporary artists, such as Rabih Abou-Khalil and Anouar Brahem, have used the oud in their compositions making the instrument more popular globally.

The oud has a rich and fascinating history that spans thousands of years. As the instrument evolved, it was played in various musical genres like Arabic, Turkish, and Persian music. And, it has since been used in modern music genres, making it an instrument as versatile as it is unique. At Boma Music, we appreciate the oud tradition of playing and making, and as such, we offer ouds for sale to beginners, intermediate and advanced oud players. Ultimately, the oud has become an essential instrument that has helped shape the music landscape and brought cultural inclusivity to our world.

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