The identifying link of a people may be found not only in their language, but in their music as well. Throughout their long and illustrious history, the Arabs have been lovers of music in its various forms. Music is an integral part of daily life in the Arab world and sensibility to its sounds and tones is deeply rooted in the Arab personality.
Musical tradition in the Arab world is very old, dating back to the simple sing-song recitations of tribal bards in pre-Islamic days, usually accompanied by the rababa, a primitive two-string fiddle. As they spread out into the Middle East and North Africa in the seventh and eighth centuries A.D., the Arabs quickly added the rich and complicated scales and tones of Indian, Persian and Byzantine music and developed a unique form that has persisted to this day with only minor changes.
In that sense, Arabic music is a remarkably enduring art form which, after centuries of competing cultural influences, has retained an overall unity. Many of its sounds are alien to western ears, but the melodies have great emotive power for Arabs who can recognize the variations in musical styles, from the famous maqaam of Iraq to the 'nuwashahat, a form of singing developed in Arab Spain during the Middle Ages and still used today.
For several centuries, Arab rulers from Baghdad to Cordoba were famed for their patronage of music and musicians. Their courts boasted full orchestras for entertainment, while noted musicians competed for the ruler's favor.
  The music of the Arabs gradually influenced the West. Masters such as Bartok and Stravinsky composed works with detectable eastern or Arabic influences. The western world inherited not only the structure and tabulation of Arab music but, also, many of its instruments.
The leading musical instrument in the Arab takhet (orchestra) is the 'oud. It has a half pear-shaped body with stripes on its shell and a right angle keyboard. It has twelve strings (six pairs) and is played with a plectrum, often the sharpened quill of an eagle. The word 'oud comes from the Arabic word meaning wood. This instrument has a long history. Pictures of 'oud-like instruments have been discovered on stone carvings in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Persians and Indians played it in ancient days. It was the Arabs, however, who perfected the 'oud, gave it its name, and passed it on to the western world.
  The 'oud reached Europe during the Middle Ages to replace a plucked instrument, the giltern. In Italy, the 'oud became il lulo, in Germany, lauge, in France, le luth, and in England, the ~uIe. As music became more complex, with the introduction of chord patterns in the thirteenth century, alterations in the technique of playing the 'oud as well as modifications in its construction were applied. These changes brought its sound close to that of the vihula, a form of Spanish guitar. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the 'oud was very popular in Europe as a solo instrument and as a part of orchestra ensembles. By the middle of the eight-  

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