Oud, 'ud, barbat, luit, luth, lute, kuitra
Origin: Central Asia
The oldest known oud or lute was discovered by the Americans in the tomb of the famous Egytian musician, Harmosis, who lived around 1500 BC. The body of this instrument is cut from one piece of wood. It resembles much the Morrocan guembri and evenso the soundboard is covered with an animal skin. It is played using a risha (plektrum)Oud means 'piece of wood'. In Ibn Khaldun (14th century), 'ud denoted the plectrum of the lute called barbat. Some trace down the origin of the luth to the Chinese pipa or Zheng.
The oud consists of a large soundbox connected to a short neck, distinguishing it from the long-necked lute family (tanbur, saz, baglâma, setar, tar). The body has a pear shape (the modern ones manufactured in Egypt accentuate this even more). The soundboard has one large soundhole and two small ones. The soundholes can be richly ornamented as well as the soundboard. They are called shamsiyya (from shams, sun), qamarat (from qamar, moon) or ayun (eyes).
The oudi or oud player uses a long plectrum made of eagle feather to strum the strings.
The oud has several tunings
an arabic tuning being: D G A d g c
"Old English lute tuning": A D G b e a
(Special thanks for my friends Mohamed Zahnoun and Abed Halabi)