Oud (or ud) is the classical lute of the Arabs. It can also be found all over the world where you find muslims; so also in many countries of Africa and South East Asia. The oud is one of the oldest instruments. In the Middle Ages, when it had only 4 strings, it travelled to the East to become the Chinese pipa, and later the Japanese biwa. It arrived via the Moors in Europe and eventually, there the name [al 'ud] became "lute".

The back of the body of the oud is made of (10-25) quite thin ribs of wood, glued together, often in highly decorative patterns. The soundboard is made of soft wood and has one or (often) three rosettes. It has a short neck with a fingerboard flush with the soundboard and without frets. The violin-style friction pegs are inserted from both sides of the open pegbox, which is slightly bended and fixed to the neck at an angle. It has nylon strings (original gut strings) in 6 double courses, which are fixed to a bridge glued to the soundboard.

In Egypt and Syria, ouds are usually exceedingly decorated, with delicately carved inserted wooden rosettes, surrounded by inlay of mother-of-pearl and black-and- white coloured wood. The scratchplate and fingerboard are similarly decorated with a coloured inlay. In the past such materials as ivory and bone were used, however nowadays the white plastic is commonly used. Some ouds’ backs are entirely finished with mother-of-pearl inlay.

In Turkey, the oud is usually quite plain, often with one rosette and looks more like a renaissance lute, has a smaller stringlength and it is tuned higher. This type of instrument is also used in Greece and called outi.
In Iran, the oud is called barbat, and not so much used anymore. The modern barbat has a longer neck, a slightly raised fingerboard, and 5 courses.

The oud is played with a long thin (plastic) plectrum. The music (if written) is in Western notation. The classical music is the taqsim - a kind of basic scales on which the player improvises his melodies.

The oud which Tomasz plays is made by master Abdel El Haliem.
This oud was re-invented by himselves - the string pegs, frets and rosete have gone under general correction and the wood was renovated.


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