A Fabled Iraqi Instrument Thrives in Exile – New York Times
BAGHDAD â€” Dhia Jabbar hides his oud in a sack when he walks down the street in his Baghdad neighborhood.
He used to teach students in the back room of a photo shop, where the sound could not be heard. But last week, militia gunmen invaded the store, destroying one of his instruments and ordering him to stop teaching. He had dreamed of a performing career, but now he has lost hope… â€œIraq is dead,â€ he says.
Seven thousand miles away, Rahim AlHaj, who fled Iraq in 1991, carries his oud without a second thought through the streets of Albuquerque, where he now lives. In New York, Washington and other cities, he plays for audiences of hundreds. An album he recorded was recently nominated for a Grammy Award.
The two musicians are bound by their passion for the oud, a pear-shaped instrument whose roots run deep in Iraqâ€™s history. Some say that in its music lies the countryâ€™s soul.
Both men trained at the same prestigious conservatory in Baghdad. Both have a deep love for traditional Iraqi melodies.
You can find Rahim’s latest album “Home Again” in our ListeningLounge.
This would make an absolutely fantastic documentary using the oud as the centerpiece of the story
Maybe like The Red Violin? The guitar owes its existence to the oud arriving in Spain with Zyriab, although Wikipedia thinks that it has more to do with the Sitar (India) or Sihtar (Persia) – Link. My feeling is that the guitar is a hybrid that evolved Out > Lute > Guitar, maybe via the Vihuela or the Chitarra Italiana. Neither the oud nor the lute are as loud as the guitar and both are heavier, so the guitar could have simply a development to make the instrument louder and lighter. But yes, a film about the oud would be very interesting because it would also touch on cultural history, i.e. how much the Arabic culture has shaped ours.