Used in Armenian folk music, Classical Turkish, and Arabaic music. Also called Telli Davul (String Drum) in Turkish folk music where it functions as a rhythm instrument.
The Oud has a hollow body and from four to five double strings and sometimes an added single bass string. The tuning of the five strings beginning with the lowest is usually: G, A, D, g, c with an octave range for each string being common. The strings were traditionally plucked with the quill of an eagle feather, but in modern times a plastic version is more readily avaiable.
The music generally played on the Oud is based on a scale called a maqam. These maqamat (plural of maqam) have many interesting features not present in Western music. The use of less than tones is common and the maqam pattern is spread to two octaves where different notes occur in the octaves. Each maqam has a tonal center and secondary tonal centers around which the performer improvises. There are perhaps more than a hundred maqamat but about twenty in popular use today.
Hear the Oud on 'Nile Eyes' and 'Dharana' from 'Svadharma'