MUSIC WITHOUT BOUNDS – The University of Utah

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By Jana Cunningham, communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications

The Middle East Center at the University of Utah welcomes Ramy Adly, one of the world’s renowned Middle Eastern music virtuosos, Monday, June 19 at 7 p.m. in the Edgar J. Thompson Chamber Music Hall inside the David Gardner Hall. A native of Egypt and a scholar of ethnomusicology and performance pedagogy, Adly is founder of the School of Oud Online project, which offers instruction in the Egyptian, Iraqi and Turkish schools of oud instrumentation

Adley’s lecture and performance will highlight timely political themes in the Middle East and beyond, such as inter-religious dialogue, migration, geopolitical shifts and the power of cultural awareness. Below, Aldy took some time to answer questions about the oud, his background and career.


The oud is often referred to as the first stringed instrument in history. According to some historians, it first appeared in 3000 BCE and was played during the time of King David. From the Holy Land, it reputedly came to the Egyptians and the Iraqis, following the wanderings of the Israelites.


The oud was first played in Egypt and Iraq and then quickly spread around the Arab world that surrounds the Gulf, specifically Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Its sounds are well known all over that region and is just as common as the guitar is in the United States.

The oud tends to reach to the heart of the audience. They used to play it in the temples in ancient Egypt, which encouraged people to come and worship.


The oud was always a part of our home in Assiut, Egypt. I grew up watching my grandfather, brother, sister and uncle all play the oud. My grandfather taught me to play when he was 92 years old. He had old, wrinkly hands and was teaching me how to play. As soon as I picked it up, it was all I could think about and I haven’t been able to put it down since.


I love to play both old and new sounds and techniques on the oud. Just imagine finding yourself on a trip to India, for example. Let’s say you’re a jazz musician and on this trip you hear different scales, rhythms and moods.  You are inspired and find a way to combine your sound with what you’ve just heard and you end up creating a new genre of music. My travels to Europe and here in America have inspired me to compose the music I play today.


The Middle East is an ancient land where you’ll find Jews, Christians and Muslims. Regardless of the turmoil happening in the region, music has no limits or bounds and can bring people together. The music I will play during my concert will be an introduction for many who have never heard the oud or its sound. It opens doors and conversations from all backgrounds. The notes, rhythms and sounds I play might sound a bit foreign but in addition to my own compositions, I will play a couple of familiar cover songs but with a Middle Eastern twist.

[Listen to Adly’s cover of “Stairway to Heaven” here and “Amazing Grace” here.]


Music that will take all of us to an open world of inspiration. The audience and their souls will inspire me to build special moments throughout the concert. My program often changes while I’m playing based on the feelings and moods and my hope is that we will travel together through the strings.


My wife is a University of Utah alumna and from the area. I am in love with Utah, its people, culture and scenery. I am impressed by the education and culture found here, not to mention the beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes. I am also impressed with the clean-cut community and as an artist have been deeply moved by the kindness and acceptance of others. Nathan Devir [director of the Middle East Center] has made me feel so welcome and I am honored and grateful to be a guest of this great community.

Read the full article from the link below



How to Make a song?



Do you have goals to publish a song to iTunes, Spotify or Pandora? Do you want to get a
million hits streaming your music on YOUTUBE? If yes, you need to be sure that the song
has its own “earworm” effect and comes with much energy to make a lasting impression on
the ears and hearts of your fans. Your fans need to remember you for releasing that song
which sticks in their minds for a long time.
If you want to use a song as a movie soundtrack, you need different elements to make it
market ready. We shall cover that angle in a future blog
Before we delve further into the topic, let’s first understand what “music” means.
If you thought it was just a simple word that recently came into use, you might have made
the first big mistake of your career as a musician. Music is a two-part word that goes way
back into time. The first part “Mus” relates to the ancient name of “Mausas” the ancient
name of the Israelites who lived in Egypt in the year 3000 B.C. The name means “that
something has been taken out of a thing,” while the second part “ic” originates with the
ancient gods of Egypt, the god of “Spirits.” Therefore, we can say that music is a
combination of sounds taken from the spirits, something very special.
Going into the process of creating a song, we can say that a song is a tune that came to
your spirit or mind as the case may be. It comes into your mind and sticks. It does not get
out of your head. When you experience this, you know that you have a song that needs to
be created.
At this point, you have never played it on an instrument nor sung it in the shower. Not
ever. However, it is still in your mind, waiting patiently. Waiting to be released to the
outside world. An idea yearning to be heard. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Now, to get this song out of your spirit into the air, you need to record it with a musical
instrument or by just humming it. Once any one of these happens, Voila! You have a music
Remember though, that it is still just an idea. A song idea that you need to release to your
audience. To successfully do this, you need to deal with this idea as a real estate unit. In
the music industry, this idea is called a “unit” because you can rent it to a filmmaker who
wants a soundtrack for a movie. You may sell it to a publishing record company or label
who want to share a profile with you by helping to publish this unit, and as long as the unit
is successful, people will live in it. They may take it along to school, listen to it on the
road, or dance to it at a wedding, all because they love your “unit.”
To say the song is a real estate unit may sound strange but, it is a very accurate
Around the world, a typical building would need an architect first to draw a plan to show
what your building will look like. Included in this blueprint would be every detail that
makes a complete structure including the doors, floors, and finishing details such as colors
of the walls and interior decorations to make the house appealing to its beholders. Next,
the plan would need to be put on the ground by a civil engineer and then completed by a
decorator who puts finishing touches on your building to make it habitable. Just like this
hypothetical building, you also need to put in much work to make your music ready for
release to your audience.
Let us explain this building using an example from the world of music:
1.The Idea: It all begins with an idea as mentioned above. The idea is an
“earworm” tune in your mind that came out of your creativity.
2.The Plan: You need an architect to build your phrases, music lines and rhythms
into sounds, demos or even the song itself with the whole sounds library,
synthesizers and more available on the scene now. At this stage of building, you
may be delighted with the results.
Here is a link to the producers in The Musician’s Marketplace. You may hire from among
3.The Builders: These are the musicians who will play the solo for your song. The
singers who will sing your words or melody, the chord makers, who can
professionally create jazz chords for your song, the drummers who know how to
rock the song. Everyone mentioned will need to build a part of your song to make
it a complete real estate unit. Interesting, right?
Link to the next article. Article #2 is about How you can save money while in the
4.The Finalization: You may need to visit the studio to record at this point. If you
play instruments, you will need to take your tracks for recording. If you are a
singer, you will need to record your takes. A list of what you need to consider
while in the studio will be covered in the next article. At the finalization stage,
you need to get the services of a sound engineer to balance the sounds in your
composition or compress the track. This is the stage of finalizing your tune or
including parts of the beats that were not included in your framework. It is
essential for the sound engineer to fine tune your track during production as this
will enhance the listenability of your song.
5.Polishing the building: You know quite all right that after building a house, you
need to polish the floors and install furnishings in the interiors to give visitors a
pleasant sight to behold. That is what a mastering engineer does to your track. He
masters the song for you. Why is this so important? It is because your song might
sound right in your car, but sounds horrible on your computer or someone else’s
speakers. Thus, you need to master your song to make it sound pleasant on all
devices on which your song will be played.

What is the Oud instrument ?


The Oud instrument

The history of the Oud spans millennia, making any brief statement feel inadequate. Yet the basics about the instrument hint at its long influence on music in one of the cradles of human civilization.
The oud is often referred to as the first stringed instrument in history. According to some historians, it first appeared in 3000 BCE and was played during the time of King David. From the Holy Land, it reputedly came to the Egyptians and the Iraqis,
following the wanderings of the Israelites.
Though the instrument has changed over the eons, it still retains many of the same features, especially its haunting, stirring sound, suggesting ancient times yet remaining a vital source of inspiration for musicians around the world.

According to El-Farabie, the Oud dates back to the days of Lamech; a sixth-generation descendant of Adam. Lamech was known as the “Father of the Oud players”. The first appearance of the Oud was 3000 BC. The desecrated skeleton suggested the
form of the Oud. Oud is known as the first stringed instrument in history.
The oldest pictorial record of the Oud dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia (Iraq), over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon and the seal is currently housed at the British Museum..
As the Oud becomes the quintessence of earlier chordophones, it also constitutes their functional synthesis. In the 9th century, Miwardi, the jurist of Baghdad, extolled its use in treating illness, such as King David did through his life with his Oud. The
Oud was in the hands of Egyptians and Iraqis when the Israelites came out of Egypt. They took the Oud with them to the Holy Land. The Oud still maintains its Egyptian and Iraqi features and musical stylings. The Oud was played in sacred places such as
the temples of Egypt.
The Oud is the predecessor of the Lute and Guitar:
Came to Spain first by “Zyriab” on “9th Century” at his era, the Oud developed to take another embodiment, which is become the Lute after the musician added to the Oud the frites , since the Oud is fretless instrument, after few years of this
development the Oud have been in another embodiment which it become the Guitar;’
“The Oud become a Guitar
“ The term guitar is descended from the Latin word cithara, but the modern guitar itself is generally not believed to have descended from the Roman instrument. Many influences are cited as antecedents to the modern guitar. Although the development
of the earliest “guitars” is lost in the history of medieval Spain, two instruments are commonly cited as their most influential predecessors, the European lute and its cousin, the four-string oud; the latter was brought to Iberia by the Moors in the 8th
Wikipedia :Guitar History section |
The Risha (the pic) and strings of the Oud :
The strings of the contemporary ‘ud are twisted, or spirally reinforced. They are plucked with a plectrum (risha, ‘quill’) made of an eagle’s feather and held between thumb and index finger; a shell or plastic plectrum may be used instead. The technique
calls for suppleness of the wrist as the plectrum strikes the strings in a simple fall, or combines risings and fallings. Certain teachers, such as Tawfiq al-Sabbagh, claim that a technique similar to the mandolin tremolo was once used. This may have
disappeared, but another technique spread rapidly: the basm(‘imprint’), which was invented by the Egyptian Ahmad al-Laythi (1816-1913). It consists of substituting for the plectrum touches of the fingers of the left hand, plucking the strings, and
introduces light and shade into the execution. Munir Bashir (Iraq) extended the technique by using the right hand too; he has made it one of the canons of present-day aesthetics of the’ud.
There are two schools or conceptions of performance. The first, or ‘Ottoman’, takes as its principle the ornamentation of the sound, produced by delicate glissandos of the fingers and slight vibratos. The touch of the plectrum on the string sets off a
vibration which, in turn, gives rise to an effect of resonance, volume and controlled intensity. The second aesthetic approach is Egyptian. The volume is amplified by firm strokes of the plectrum, which makes the strings resonate; the result is a curiously
dulled sound, akin to the nasal effect of Egyptian song. This calls for virtuosity in performance, which is conceived of as an exteriorizing factor. The finest proponents of this school have been Safar ‘Ali (1884-1962), Muhammad al-Qassabji (1898-1966) and
Farid al-Atrash (1907-75), who, despite his melodramatic style, breathed a new vitality into the instrument. A synthesis of these two styles is taking place in Somalia, where the manner of performance combines extensive glissandos with the sonorous
impact of the plectrum; the outstanding proponents of this style are Abdullahi Qarshe and ‘Umar Dhule.

The best and the healthiest ways of practicing the Oud


The best and the healthiest ways of practicing the Oud

For those who practicing or performing on stage. Improve your skill set from these
useful tips, I recommended for our students:

The perfect way to practice playing the Oud is to assume a straight sitting position on an armless
chair with a straight backrest.

While playing on the Oud, be sure to use the foot stool. Do not practice for more than three hours at
a stretch without using the foot stool to keep your back posture straight.

Place your left leg slightly behind the line of the heels of your right foot. You should always
maintain this position while playing on stage with your right hand holding the Oud. The left hand
has nothing to do with keeping the Oud straight. Rather, the Oud should be held with the right hand

This is a poor posture for handling the Oud. If you are seated wrongly and not straight while playing
the Oud, you will feel uncomfortable and your hand will not be appropriately positioned relative to
the fingerboard.
Note from the picture shown above that, the right foot is placed on a foot stool. If your right leg is
not placed that way, you will lose balance while playing on the Oud.

How to hold the neck of the Oud?
You should compare holding the neck of the Oud to holding an apple with your left hand. You
should hold the fingerboard in the following way.
With your thumb held straight, the tip of your fingers should play with the surface of the
fingerboard, underneath the nails. It is very important to keep your left hand stretched forward on
the fingerboard.

How to hold the pic of the Oud?
you should hold the pic in between your index and your thumb, the other three fingers has nothing
to do with your Pic, we called it “Resha”
Hold the Resha as seen in the picture.
Practice in Front of A Mirror
Every Opera House I have been to for practice, has a mirror as a constant feature. This helps players
to look at themselves in the mirror while they practice.
Practicing in front of a mirror helps you to have a glimpse of the positions of the left and right
hands, how you are actually seating, and how the audience will see you during a performance. It
also boosts your confidence by helping to overcome stage fright.

Parts of the Oud and what the instrument contains

• The Strings Base: This is the first part on the left side of the Oud model shown in this picture.
The string base is made of wood to hold the strings from the bottom of the Oud. The strings Base is
useful for holding the strings in position
• STRINGS: The conventional Ouds nowadays have 11 strings; five in unison and one a single
• THE BRIDGE: The second component on the left side of the Oud is the bridge. It is actually the
part over which the strings pass to help vibrate the sounds vibrate the sounds by the strings or
transmission to the sound box.
• SOUND HOLE: The third part is the sound hole; the sound hole of the Oud is to repress the
sounds and project them out of the Oud box. This is what helps Bombay looking to produce the
depth of their sounds.
• The Face of the Oud: A good Oud has a thin wooden face. By principle, the thinner the face of
the Oud, the better the quality of the sound produced. The sound quality is measured by how
delightful and open the sound is. Thus, it is very important for the Oud makers to be apply great
care when designing the face of the Oud.
• The Neck or Fingerboard: The fingerboard is a fretless component of the Oud. As shown in the
picture, there are no frets on the fingerboard. That is what makes the Oud an Oud. It is one major
difference between the Oud and the Guitar. The reason for this is to enable the player produce a
monochromatic range of sounds on an open frequency without any limitation.
How to tune the Oud instrument?
Egyptians, Syrians and other Arab countries tune the Oud from the top in the
following order:
E – A – D – G – C – F.
The Iraqis usually tune the Oud differently from the top thus:
F – C – D – G – C – F.
The Turkish tune the Oud as follows:
C# – F# – B. – E – A – D
All students of School of Oud are taught to tune the Oud in the sequence below. It is the best
sequence of tuning the Oud to cover more than 95% of the songs and compositions ever played on
the Oud. This tuning is highly accurate and recommended for all regions including the Egyptian and
Iraqi schools of Oud. Our students are advised to tune their Ouds using the following sequence:
F – A – D – G – C – F