ud is a plucked string instrument that is widespread
among Arabic peoples, in Turkey, Iran and many other
Eastern countries. The word "ud" in translation
from Arabic literally means "free". According
to sources, the earliest historical data about the
ud is contained in the works of Ishag Ibn Ibrahim
of Mosul (767-849) and Abu Nasr Farabi (870- 950).
The ud was very important for the development of medieval
culture in the Middle East. There are legends in many
ancient treatises testifying to the ud's ancient history.
Abdulgadir Maraghayi wrote in his commentary to the
"Kitab al Advar" ("A Book of Music
Cycles") (1252) treatise by Safiaddin Abdulmomin
Urmavi that this musical instrument was invented by
one of the Prophet Mohammad's grandsons.
However, a number of medieval scientists and musicians,
including the great Nizami Ganjavi, ascribed the invention
of the ud to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.
The outstanding scientist and musicologist Safiaddin
Urmavi took an active part in the improvement of this
instrument and in the formation of its scale.
The original, powerful sound of the ud is mentioned
in Fuzuli's "Haft Jam":
I arranged a joyous feast,
I did it for a mystery.
As soon as the ud sounded in the room,
The fire burned my soul.
The State Museum of Azerbaijani Musical Culture
ud was frequently represented in miniafures. In medieval
sources, the four strings of the ancient ud represented
the four elements of Nature: fire, water, earth and
air. These strings had the following names: the first
was zil ("of the highest pitch"); the second,
masna; the third, maslas; and the fourth, bam ("of
a low pitch"). Later, a fifth string named "had"
The structure and form of the ancient ud has undergone
a number of reforms throughout the centuries, resulting
in the perfected form of today. Brought by the Arabs
to Spain, the ud was widely distributed in Western
countries and known as the lute.
The body of the ud is placed on the right knee, and
the performer's right hand clasps it to the breast.
The modern ud has one single and five double strings
(1 1 in total). The strings are made of silk thread,
gut and a special kapron, and ore tuned in perfect
The ud has a pear-shaped body, a neck and a head with
pegs. The body is made by assembling several parts
made of sandalwood, walnut and pearwood. The wooden
lags that are used to assemble the body are cut into
five-mm-thick pieces. They are warmed and then, with
the help of special boot-trees, shaped into a bent
form. Then, all of the parts are assembled. The top
sounding board is made of pine and is five mm thick.
The total length of the instrument is 850 mm. The
body is 350 mm wide, 480 mm long and 200 mm tall.
The range of the ud goes from the "mi" of
the great octave to the "fa" of the second
octave. The ud is played in orchestras and ensembles
of traditional instruments as a solo and accompanying