Preserving the art of oud
THE pear-shaped stringed instrument called oud, or in Malay, is a common feature in traditional Malay music, especially from the state of Johor. Originating from Turkey and the Arabic world, the oud has been in use by musicians in the Malay community since the 14th century, played in the Arabic music style to accompany the dance.
To help present-day music lovers get to know this musical instrument better, local oud player and writer Raja Zulkarnain Raja Mohd Yusof published his book
in March. It won Best Art Book at the 2017 National Book Award in Kuala Lumpur.
Part of the requirement for a Master of Arts in Musicology degree Raja Zulkarnain is pursuing at the University of Malaya, the book comprises academic observation of oud playing styles. “Apart from preserving the art of oud, the book documents the techniques meticulously. With this book, I hope the knowledge can be shared widely,” he said.
Raja Zulkarnain was a student of the late gambus maestro Fadzil Ahmad. He has also studied under international oud masters such as Necati Celik, Yurdal Tokcan and Mehmet Bitmez from Turkey; Naseer Shamma and Saleem Abdul Kareem from Iraq; and Nehad Sayyed and Mustafa Said from Egypt.
“The contents of the book came mostly from my teachers. It took a year to publish the book, from writing the manuscript to assessment by a panel, editing and printing,” he added.
“Through my studies, I found that local
players are far behind those in the Arab world in terms of knowledge and skills. The aim of the book is to reach players from rural ares and make them aware of developments in the world of oud and to help enthusiasts understand the instrument itself.”
Raja Zulkarnain hopes that libraries in all primary and secondary schools as well as universities nationwide will have a copy of the book.
The aim of the book is to reach gambus players from rural ares and make them aware of developments in the world of oud and to help enthusiasts understand the instrument itself.”
about heritage and its growth as an art.”
The book was launched at the international level in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the Riyadh International Book Fair 2017 in March. Plans for English and Arabic versions of the book are in the pipeline. There are also plans for an e-book with multimedia content.
“The National Book Award is part of the National Book Development Foundation’s campaign to encourage authors to publish more books. The recognition of the award motivates me to keep going,” Raja Zulkarnain added.
He has just finished three manuscripts:
to be published.
“I plan to translate the first two books into Arabic and English as well have e-book versions of them.”
Raja Zulkarnain has a diploma from the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London in the United Kingdom. He is pursuing a master’s degree after being awarded an Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning certificate from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.
Raja ZulkaRnain Raja Mohd Yusuf Oud player and writer