What is an oud?
Oud is an short-necked, half pear-shaped,
plucked lute of the Arab world, the direct
ancestor of the European lute. Oud's name
derives from al-oud (branch of wood). There
are five pairs of strings on an oud, each
pair tuned to the same pitch, and a single
string which is also the thickest and known
as the bamteli in Turkish. The most common
way to tune the oud is to tune each string
a fourth apart. The most common Turkish
tuning with D being the highest open string
is DAEBF#C#. There is also an Arabic variant
of this tuning where the intervals stay
the same but the pitch of each string is
dropped down by a full step; CGDAEB. Some
other tunings are CGDAGD, GDAEDA, DAEBAE,
GDAEDA. "Known both from documentation
and through oral tradition, it is considered
the king, sultan or emir of musical instruments,
'the most perfect of those invented by the
philosophers' (Ikhwan al-Safa: Rasa'il [Letters]
(1957), i. 202). It is the principal instrument
of the Arab world, and is of secondary importance
in Turkey (ud), Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
It plays a lesser role in Greece (outi)."
(Stanley Sadie: The New Grove Dictionary
of Musical instruments, vol. 3, p. 687-688).
It also plays an important role in north
African countries, such as Morocco, Tunisia,
Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan.