Course on the Arab lute ‘ud held by Farhan Sabbagh

The ‘ud, a forerunner of the lute, is the most important instrument in the classical tradition in the Arab world. The ‘ud (literally the “wood”) has enjoyed great popularity since the dawn of Arabic civilisation. Its use spread widely in the 6th century from the city of Hirah (Iraq) in forms similar to the current instruments, probably derived from the Persian instrument known as the barbat. On the basis of the lute, the Arabs conceived and elaborated their musical theory according to the modal system of the maqamat with several scales using intervals of a quarter of a tone.The ‘ud usually has five double strings plus a string in a low register. The strings are plucked by a plectrum over a pear-shaped sound box, while the neck has no frets. Because of its close association with music theory, the ‘ud is considered to be the “prince” of instruments in the Arab world.Introduced to Spain at the time of the Moorish conquest, with a number of variations in design it became one of the principal instruments in the European Renaissance.In the ‘ud repertory improvisation plays a key role, especially in pieces called taqsim, elaborations in free rhythm on a given maqam (scale or melodic model). The gentle sweet sound of this instrument fascinates Arab audiences and is likened to the song of the nightingale.

The course is taught by Farhan Sabbagh, who was born at Homs in Siria. Sabbagh is a celebrated virtuoso of the ‘ud and has enjoyed a successful soloist career. Also a well-established composer whose works are played in Europe and the United States, Sabbagh has a large discography and acquired great experience teaching courses and workshops in various European countries since the 1980s, when he taught the ‘ud at the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies, Berlin.

Venice, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore
11 – 13 aprile 2008


Intercultural Institute of Comparative Music Studies
tel. +39 041 2710357
e-mail: musica.comparata@cini.it