Pre­serv­ing the art of oud

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed - ROZANA SANI which is wait­ing

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

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