Stories of the Arabic Oud
Al Farabi and the Holes of the Oud
Around the year 900 AD, there was a well known arabian scientist named Abu Nasr who was also becoming a well known oud player. At this time, the oud was still relatively unpopular and it was still played mostly in the middle east. According to stories passed down from oud players, Abu Nasr is considered to be the inventor and grandfather of the oud that is played today. One night Abu Nasr was going to sleep in his home which was located in Damascus, Syria. Abu always slept with his oud right next to him so he rested the oud against the wall and went to sleep. He awoke to a strange sound and alarming sight. Abu Nasr quickly got up from his bed once he realized that a mouse had been chewing through his oud. Initially, Abu was devastated as he thought that the mouse had just destroyed his prized oud.
Abu started to panic and so he tried to play his oud to see if it would still make music even with holes in the face of the instrument. To his surprise, the oud sounded better than before and he continued to play the oud with the chewed through holes. Abu quickly told his friends, family, and other oud players that he had new oud with a new and better sound. After this discovery, Abu continued to spread and create ouds that had holes in them. People were excited about Abu Nasr’s oud and his friends constantly made jokes about how he came up with the idea. He was awarded the name Al Farabi which translates to (fathered by mice).
The holes in the oud allow for more sound to be produced from the oud instrument and the holes help create better sound than an oud that has no holes. The invention of adding holes to the oud is a step in the ancestry of the European lute, guitar and most all stringed instruments. The oud with holes would eventually be used to create the European lute and therefore the addition of holes to the oud instrument is what helped create the modern string instrument that we know today.
Are Blind Oud Players More Talented than Others?
When one sense is taken from somebody, their other senses are strengthened. Sometimes the gift of vision is taken, so the gift of music is given in return. Many blind musicians have succeeded on other instruments like Stevie Wonder on the piano, but few musicians are as talented as the blind oud players.
Music is a universal language that can be enjoyed and played by everyone. Oud music speaks to the soul and those who play the instrument genuinely feel the rhythm and melody. It is said that any Arabian musician who has lost their vision will choose to play the oud as their main instrument. Blind oud players are able to focus on and feel the oud in a way that creates emotionally beautiful music that comes straight from the heart. Blind oud players tend to be more talented than the oud players who have vision and there are many notable blind oud players that have achieved great success. The world will always remember the blind oud players that touched the hearts of millions of people. Some of the most talented and well known blind oud players are Al Sheikh Imam, Said Mekkawy, Ammar Al Sherrya, Mostafa Said, and Udi Hrant Kenkulian.
One of the most iconic films in Egyptian cinematic history is the fim “Al Kit Kat” which stars the actor Mahmoud Abd Al Aziz as the famous blind oud player named Am Salah. This film was an inspiration to many oud players because it showed that oud music can be played beautifully without vision. Am Salah is a comedic oud player that is known for his bright personality and for being a very talented musician.