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Musical Instruments - Essay Example

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Music has been an integral part in the global culture and civilization. Every country has its own sets of musical instruments which it uses in times of war, festive gatherings, mourning, and other occasions. It should be noted that creation and evolution of musical instruments gave rise to what we currently use in the modern world…
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Download file to see previous pages It will concentrate on their distinction and similarities in terms of structure, performance techniques, occasion when they are played, and their historical context.
The origin of the Arabic oud is often associated with Biblical history. A myth tells the story of Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam who is extremely grieved by the death of his son. Thus, being unable to contain his grief, he hung his son's remains in a tree. The first oud is said to have been inspired from the shape of Lamech's desiccated skeleton (Parfitt 2).
The Arabic oud is described as a pear-shaped, stringed instrument similar to lute which is commonly used in Middle Eastern music (Oud 1). It should be noted that both the oud and the lute are derived from the Arabic term al-ud which is literally translated as "wood." Gianfranco Lotti also suggests that "the 'wood' appellation originally carried derogatory connotations, because of proscriptions of all instrumental music in early Islam (Oud 2)."
The exact date when the oud is created can never be accurately determined. However, evidence showing the earliest usage of this musical instrument dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) which is 5000 years ago. Dr. Dominique Collon acquired a cylinder seal which shows the picture of a "female crouching with her instruments upon a boat, playing right handed" (Parfitt 3). It should be noted that aside from this pictorial record, the oud appears all throughout the Mesopatamian history highlighting its importance in the civilization and culture.
Throughout time, the original structure of the oud has been rather modified due to the social changes. The oud is consists of a "large soundbox connected to a short neck, features that give it its letters patent of nobility and distinguished it from the long-necked lute family" (Parfitt 4). The body of the oud which is originally pear-shaped has been transformed into a more swelling and rounded one. Since the oud is used by many countries, its structure also varies with according to its regional origin. There are three varieties of Arabic ouds: Syrian which are slightly larger, longer-necked, and lower in pitch; Iraqi which are generally similar to Syrian oud but with floating bridges which focuses the mid-range frequencies and gives the instruments a guitar-like sound; and Egyptian which has a more-pear shaped body, slightly different tone, very ornate, and highly decorated (Oud 4).
However, amidst the differences and variations which appeared, the Arabic oud still has distinct and defining features that separate it from other musical instruments. Compared to other stringed instruments, the Arabic oud is distinctive because of the number of its sound-holes. The oud generally has one to three sound-holes. Furthermore, the ouds body contains a staved, bow-like back which resembles the back of half watermelon allowing it to resonate and produce a more complex tone. The Arabic oud also has a pegbox which is bent at 45-90 angle from its neck. This musical instrument is also distinctive because of its eleven strings. It should be noted that the first ten are arranged in pairs while the eleventh remains single. The Arabic oud, is also differentiated from other plucked instruments because ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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