A fascinating musical instrument

Medieval UdA fascinating musical instrument

Saadat Abdullayeva

IRS Heritage: No.9 (2012)


Among the Eastern musical instruments, the UD has a very interesting history of many centuries, which is proved by archeological finds and manuscripts. Thus, according to  terra cottas (9-10 cm fired statuettes with a flat back and embossed face, most of which date back to the first century BC – third century AD) of the city of Afrasiyab – Ancient Samarkand, the favourite musical instrument of the people of ancient Sogdiana had a great body that turned into a short neck and ended with a head bent backwards [1], i.e., it was very similar to the modern Ud. 

Major theorists of early medieval music – Yaha ibn al-Munajim (855-917) in his <<Risala fil-Musiqa>> (<<Treatise on Music>>) and Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi (870-950) in his book <<Kitab al-Musiqi al-Kabir>> (<<The big Book of Music>>) – describe a four-stringed (triple – bam, double maslas, masna and zir) ud, at the appropriate levels (frets) of which a particular sound was produced. The open string was called mutlag. In order to symbolise the frets, the names of the fingers were used (index finger – sabbaba, long figer – vosta, ring finger – bin sir and little finger – hinsir). But it should be noted that in order to get a perfect scale, singer and musician Ziryab (died in 845, his real name was Ali ibn Nafa), long before Farabi, added a fifth string <<hadd>> (sharp), which sounded a fourth higher than fourth and to make the sound more subtle and lighter, he replaced the wooden mediator with an eagle feather [2].

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