Music is an integral piece of a society, and in order to fully understand the local community as a foreigner, it’s important to look into the cultures and customs involving music. The transformation of the Middle East is best understood through the music which has accompanied change. The past hundred years have been particularly telling, as music was not encouraged during the 600-year rule of the Ottoman Empire. While studying abroad in Amman, the capital of Jordan, I decided to try my hand at a new instrument. I chose the oud, a classical Arabian lute, predecessor to other familiar stringed instruments such as the guitar. I was able to create an independent project focusing on Middle Eastern music and, in particular, the oud.
This presentation frames my own journey into the music of this ancient region and learning to play the oud in this unique setting. I will provide background on the history of the instrument, as well as the transformation in the past hundred years of the oud. I will also briefly discuss the difference between the scales and modes of Middle Eastern music and those of Western music. The presentation will be accompanied with stories of my experiences in the pursuit of music in the Middle East, discussing people and places that made an impact on my studies. Whether it was in the traditional setting with the Bedouin in Wadi Rum or in the high-class modern neighborhood where I took lessons, the oud is a staple of Middle Eastern society and my own experiences in the Middle East.
Grayce McGregor, ’16
International Relations/Middle Eastern StudiesThe Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Sponsor: Steven Sacks