The Oud is believed to have originated in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran) around 3,500 years ago. The earliest known depictions of the Oud come from ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) and date back to around 2000 BCE. The Oud was originally called a Barbat, and it was a fretless instrument with four or five strings. The Barbat was played in the courts of ancient Persia by skilled musicians.
Over time, the Barbat spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, where it underwent many changes and variations. In the Arab world, the Barbat became known as the Oud, and it became a popular instrument in many different styles of music, including classical, folk, and pop.
The Oud has a pear-shaped body with a flat top and a round back. The body is made of wood, typically spruce, ebony, or rosewood. The soundboard is made of thin wood, such as cedar or spruce, and has a hole in the center called a soundhole, which helps to project the sound. The neck of the Oud is long and has no frets, which allows for a wide range of notes to be played.
The strings of the Oud are typically made of nylon or gut and are plucked with a plectrum or with the fingers. The Oud typically has 11 strings, although some variations can have up to 13 strings. The strings are arranged in courses, with two or three strings per course. The courses are tuned in unison or in octaves.
Over time, the Oud has undergone many changes and variations, with different regions developing their own unique styles and playing techniques. In Turkey, for example, the Oud has a shorter neck and a brighter sound. In Egypt, the Oud has a longer neck and a deeper, more resonant sound. Today, the Oud remains an important instrument in Middle Eastern music and is widely used in many different genres and styles.