Since 2006, when she encountered the oudin Palestine, musician and scholar Professor Rachel Beckles Willson has beenresearching the oud in its rich musical and cultural context. Pleasejoin us for a concert and discussion to launch her new book, The Oud: AnIllustrated History. Rachel Beckles Willson will be interviewed by Dr.Nizar Rohana about the book.
The concert programme will include a rangeof historical and original pieces for small ensemble by Rachel Beckles Willson,Marianne Nordink (ney) and Ezgi Elkirmis (percussion), as well assolo oud compositions by Nizar Rohana.
Signed copiesof The Oud: An Illustrated History will be available for purchase. AllRachel’s author royalties are being donated directly to Middle East Children’sAlliance to support Palestinians in Gaza.
“BecklesWillson is equal parts musician and scholar, which positions her perfectly totell the complex story of the oud … Beckles Willson’s comprehensive historydraws upon folklore, design, and politics … In addition to tracing its movementacross continents and its changing role in society, Beckles Willson explores indetail the construction, tuning, and fretting of the oud and maps its changingshape and sound up to the current moment. The book is lavishly illustrated withancient and contemporary images that help tell the story of this fascinatinginstrument.”
— Booklist, 25 Oct, 2023.
“Extensivelyresearched history with musical appeal, Rachel Beckles Willson’s illustratedbook is an ode to the decorated instrument’s past …The topics covered includehow the instrument was built, the materials used for its construction, thevariations in the types of ouds, its changing repertoires and the lives of pastand present virtuosos, such as the Iraqi musician Munir Bashir andSyrian-Egyptian film star Farid El Atrash. The text is enriched withillustrations, such as ancient Gandharan friezes, a drawing of various types ofouds by Napoleon’s team in Egypt and more generally ouds of various shapes andsizes. The Oud: An Illustrated History will appeal not only to aficionados ofchordophones—instruments that use vibrating strings to make sound—but anyonewith curiosity about the culture and history of the Middle East.”
— The National, 6 Nov, 2023
“MusicianBeckles Willson scrupulously traces the history of the oud—a short-necked,fretless stringed musical instrument—from its first written mention in ancientPersia to the present day … Generously illustrated and embedded with QR codesthat link to YouTube videos of oud players in action, this is both a richcultural history and a thoughtful analysis of the shifting global dynamics thatgave the oud its reach. Music lovers will be captivated.”
— Publishers Weekly, 12 Oct, 2023