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A boy playing the flute in a workshop with Silk Road Ensemble members


Creating a Life with Music
Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble conduct "Creating a Life with Music" workshops for advanced high-school music students. These workshops go beyond discussions of technique, incorporating performance and addressing ways for students to pursue careers in music in today's global society.


"The Persian barbat, a four-string instrument that was popular during the first centuries [C.E.]...traveled west, where it was adopted and adapted by the Arab cultures of West Asia. Its name changed to oud, from the Arabic word for 'wood,' the primary material of the instrument. According to tradition, the greater the variety of woods, the better the tone of the instrument."



orig. Iraq, Egypt  The oud is a wooden string instrument with close ties to the European lute. Its oldest known pictorial record dates back 5,000 years to southern Mesopotamia, in what is now Iraq.

Although there are structural variations, the instrument is typically characterized by eleven strings and a bowl-shaped wooden back that allows for maximum resonance and tonal complexity. The neck does not have frets, making the oud a particularly expressive instrument and conducive to improvisation. It is played by plucking or strumming the strings with a plectrum (pick).