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Middle Eastern Oud -- What you Teach Your Kids About the World Matters

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A Short-Necked Lute with a Long History

The Middle Eastern oud, a stunning stringed instrument, is at the core of traditional ensembles all around West Asia. Potentially derived from the Persian “barbat” and other stringed lutes going back over a thousand years, the oud differs from other stringed instruments because it has no frets — dividers on the “neck” of a stringed instrument that allow a musician to make clearly differentiated notes ring separately. A Middle Eastern oud player can place his or her fingers on the neck to either play a clearly delineated tone, one that corresponds with a note on the major or minor scale, or can press the strings to the fretboard in between distinct notes, making “quarter tones.” This makes the oud a perfect match for Arabic, Persian and other West Asian musics, which gain so much of their strength from the tones between the tones. In this video we enjoy a performance by, as the YouTube description says, “the first girl graduated as a soloist represent[ing] Egypt in the Arab Oud House and the third graduate of the Arab Oud House.” Does the YouTube description say let us know her name? Nah.