For thousands of years, the oud has wandered between civilizations, changing its appearance and name again and again. Currently, the instrument resides in North Africa and Southwest Asia, where it is an essential part of classical music.

While the music of these regions shares several commonalities, for example, Arabic, Turkish, and Persian music shares the same maqame (a maqam is the term used to describe the mode on which a piece of music is based, comparable to scales in Western music).

However, each of these regions has its own characteristic way of dealing with the maqams.

Likewise, the structure of the oud, as well as the ways of playing it, differ regionally. Singers often play the instrument to accompany their singing. In addition, the oud has an essential position in the traditional Arabic classical band Al Takht Al Sharki.

Method: Whether you want to learn oud professionally or play it as a hobby – in any case, several consecutive learning phases are required.

◆ In the first sessions, two topics are covered: First, note reading: This is about getting to know the elements of notation, starting with the staff and clefs, note values and time signatures, and the position of notes on the staff. With this, one gains an understanding of scales and their exact nature. The second topic covers proper posture, which is closely related to the sound of the oud. How do you hold the risha (a type of pick), and how do you strike the strings with it? What is the correct grip of the left hand on the neck of the oud? All of these things affect the sound of the instrument. For both areas, note reading and posture, it takes different exercises, some specifically for the right hand, some for both hands.

◆ After a few sessions, we then start playing songs from the Arabic music tradition in parallel with these technical exercises. Songs offer indispensable access to the world of Arabic maqame as well as instrumental music. For this reason, it is important not only to play the songs, but also to analyze their melodies and recognize ajnas (specific sequences of notes).

◆After several months, the theoretical and technical knowledge will be deepened by working on instrumental music pieces and on maqams, as well as improvisation (taksim). Instrumental pieces such as sama’i and longa, as well as songs are based on certain maqams whose melodic structures are traditionally fixed.

◆Playing such pieces requires diverse playing techniques for both hands. These techniques are learned through risha and scale exercises, as well as etudes and caprices.

Ghaith Al Shaar 

spielt Oud seit er zehn Jahre alt war. An der Musikhochschule Damaskus studierte er Horn im Hauptfach und Klavier im zweiten Fach. 2019 absolvierte er ein Masterstudium in Musikwissenschaften an der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Sein Oud-Unterricht ist von den unterschiedlichen Erfahrungen geprägt, die er im Bereich der westlichen und der arabischen Musik gesammelt hat.