The Oud

     The oud (or ud) is one of the most popular instruments in Middle Eastern music. Its name derives from the Arabic for 'wood', and this refers to the strips of wood used to make its rounded body. In Greece it is known as the outi and in Iran as the barbat. The neck of the oud, which is short in comparison to the body, has no frets and this contributes to its unique sound. The most common string combination is five pairs of strings tuned in unison and a single bass string, although up to thirteen strings may be found. Strings are generally made of nylon or gut, and are plucked with a plectrum known as a risha or mızrap. Another distinctive feature of the oud is its head, with the tuning pegs bent back at an angle to the neck. The oud used in the Arab world is slightly different to that found in Turkey, Armenia and Greece. Different tunings are used and the Turkish-style oud has a brighter tone than its Arab counterpart. The European lute is a descendant of the oud, from which it takes its name (al-oud).