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An acquaintance needed cash. For some reason, they decided that I was the person most likely to buy their oud, a handmade article built by George Wakim, musician, engineer and instrument maker. The fact that I could only afford $400 was no problem. So, 2 weeks before Christmas, and smack in the middle of holiday expenses, I buy an oud. I told the friend they could buy it back anytime in the next six months but somehow I do not think that will happen; it turned out that the oud had never been played, just admired
The first gauntlet I have to run is HOW to tune the oud. (Definition of gauntlet: a form of physical punishment wherein a captive is to run between two rows [a gauntlet] of soldiers who repeatedly strike him.. In this case, the rows are Arabic musicians who already know what they are doing, and who claim to have no fixed tuning, they constantly crosstune at need. But of course. An Alaskan acquaintance in a similar situation says she hears the same thing all the time as well. Can none of these experts remember what their very very very first tuning was?
Fortunately, George answers emails. His English is much better than my Lebanese, thank goodness.
Turkish is usually lower tension than arabic.. since turkish ouds are more delicate... this oud is delicate. Daniel Mari turkish is a good string, you can google it. They aren't expensive either. I have some aquila turkish strings that are meant for turkish tuning but will be tuned down one note for this... that works..
let me know if you need strings for it. It may benefit know how long they have been on it. The longer strings stay on an instrument the more they accumulate tension that eventually clamps down the top and hampers its freedom to vibrate.
Then, according to George, the strings are turkish but the tuning is arabic.
|Tuning from treble to bass||Tuning from bass to treble|
Now, at first I thought he said that this was a delicate oud that needed turkish tuning. Now he is talking about turkish strings tuned arabic mode. Ouch.
So out I go to the Oud Cafe.
Arabic style ouds: There are several types of Arabic ouds, usually country-specific. Generally they are larger than Turkish style ouds and tuned a whole step lower. Many Arabic ouds also continue to have only five pairs of strings. The major categories are the Syrian, Egyptian, and Iraqi ouds, though there are others that are not listed here or closely resemble other types (such as Moroccan, Lebanese, etc.) Please realize that these categories are made everywhere, and are used for a general understanding of an oud 'style.'
Okay, so if George meant to say.. say ... well, I am going for the lower tension approach.
Oud Cafe has a lot of different possible tunings. I skip the Turkish style oud tunings and go to the Arabic, since this oud has a very round belly and Turkish ouds are supposed to be relatively shallow. They mention someting about Egytian ouds with six courses using Syrian oud tunings. Scrolling down further, I see a diagram for stringing a Turkish and an Arabic oud. The Arabic oud is strung with 'a typical Arabic tuning' of C, F, A, d, g, c. Ah HA.
Opening up my Basics of Oud book, I discover that they teach with Arabic tuning and they also perceive that as C, F, A, D, G, C.
Now, all I need is some new strings. Since I sliced the skin off the top of my finger tip while using a rotary cutter in a creative way, I have time to get some strings while the finger heals.
Saed Muhssin, Oud Tunings, Arabic and Turkish, web.
Maura Enright, Proprietor
Author: Maura Enright
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