Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Oud - an update

The past two weeks have been an exciting and interesting time for me as I struggle to absorb the basics of music and Oud playing. My lessons with Ehsan are an hour and a half long each though they have regularly run over that limit as we discuss politics, music and even some philosophy. The way the last two merge together and with mathematics is becoming particularly fascinating for me but more on that later. In addition, a whole new microcosm is opening up before me as discover some fantastic Oud sites on the internet with helpful tutorials.

One of the things which confused me at first was how some people here would talk to me about notes in the form of C D and E whereas my lessons are taught with Sol, La, Si, Do and so on. I have now discovered that I have been learning music in the style prevalent in the Middle East and that in fact the notes have different names in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Armenian as well as Greek. In Arabic, each note actually has it's own name, something which I will try to discover and memorise at some stage! The Oud itself is an ancient instrument with the first recorded usage somewhere in the Middle East around 5000 years ago. It's name literally means "The stick" and while the Wikipedia entry has some claim about Islamic restrictions on music being the reason for the cryptic name, I have also read that it is just the way the instrument itself developed and was seen, something I feel sounds much more credible. It is a strange looking device with the body shaped like half of a watermelon or some strange shell, the result is a rich resonance which almost transports the listener to another time and place. Anyhow, while I fiddle with how to place my hands and memorising what the different notes sound like, here is a list of some of the Oud sites which I have been frequenting often. All of them have a download section where you can listen to the Oud too.

The Oud Cafe
Mike's Oud
Ahmed Mukhtar


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