Due to the fact that there were many claims from many imposters in having altered and modified the oud by making the eight string oud i have decided to add a page to my website to explain that the least I have done was to add the two extra string. I have stated in all the newspaper and radio interviews that the only thing which Al Farabi influenced me with was the methodology of researching mathematics in music but Al Farabi himself never mentioned anything about the eight string oud as it was not in existence in his time and after his time aswell. I have added on this page a few comments from scholars specialised in the ancient manuscripts and history of the oud which show clearly that the false document produced by Naseer Shamma which he relates to Al Farabi is a complete hoax. I came across these comments in Mike's Oud website, which came to my attention through friends. Therefore, I am grateful to Mike's website that it brought the whole thing into the light.


Author: manuscript

Subject: Magdy El Ashmawy master luthier vs Naseer Shamma scam

Oud Admirer

Posts: 5
Registered: 2-3-2006
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posted on 2-3-2006 at 09:32 PM

Magdy El Ashmawy master luthier vs Naseer Shamma scam

Al Farabi Manuscript

Hello all, I have heard about this most interesting and intriguing subject regarding the inventor of the 8 string Oud. Please do forgive me I have not introduced my self to you but I am a scholar of Arabic origin in the study of ancient oriental manuscripts. I have work with several auction/antiquities houses and also lecture part time in a university. I have heard about the above subject through one of my loyal students who is an Oud fanatic. I can say through my own experience and research (hence the reason that it took me so long to comment on the matter) that Dr. Elashmawy is the inventor of the 8 string oud and not Naseer Shamma as he says. Basically I have seen both elashmawy's and shamma's respective websites and I have come to the following conclusion. shamma claims that he has come accross a original manuscript that Al Farabi has written. As an expert in this field I say it is proposterous for the following reasons:
1) There is no known document in existence in any library index or university sources.
2) The language used in the manuscript is not of the time of Farabi neither are the names used for the muscical tones (Maqam). It is all modern language.
3) The handwriting and the calligraphy have no relation to the period in time of which they are supposed to have come from.
4) Finally and most importantly, Shamma claims that this manuscript describes and 8 string oud, if anyone looks at it you can clearly see that it illustrates 7 strings and not 8.

See for yourselves and you will understand.

Oud Junkie

Posts: 141
Registered: 6-8-2005
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posted on 2-4-2006 at 10:19 PM

I am not familiar with what Naseer Shamma has said about al-Farabi or the historical origin of 8-course ouds, but I thought it would be useful to make a brief comment about what is known to us about the historical evolution of the oud from the writings of Middle Eastern authors over the centuries. Neither al-Farabi nor any other medieval writer describes an 8-course oud. All the major writers until the 15th century (al-Kindi. Ibn al-Munajjim, al-Farabi, Ikhwan al-Safa', Ibn al-Tahhan, Ibn Sina, al-Urmawi, the anonymous author of 'Kanz al-Tuhaf,' etc.) mention either a 4-course or a 5-course oud. These were the two standard types of oud that co-existed in the region. Al-Farabi used the 5-course oud and its fingerings as a model for analysing the tone system. A hundred years later Ibn al-Tahhan, an accomplished oud player and one of the great court musicians in Fatimid Cairo, wrote in his book on music ('Hawi al-funun') that the ouds in Egypt in his time, and his own oud, had four courses, although in some other places 5-course ouds were used.

Ouds with more courses than the standard four or five appear in the Ottoman period. In the late 15th century, the Ottoman author al-Ladhiqi mentions the recent appearance of a new oud with 6 courses (named oud akmal) alongise the 4-course oud (oud qadim) and 5-course oud (oud kamil) that had been around for centuries. In the early 16th century the Ottoman court musician Mahmud al-Maraghi describes a still newer innovation - the development of an oud with 7 courses (named oud mukammal). Sometime in the 17th century or 18th century this 7-course oud found its way to Egypt (an Ottoman province at the time) and remained there well into the 19th century. The French scholar Villoteau picked up one of these 7-course Egyptian ouds when he was in Egypt around 1800 and wrote a detailed description of it (I have posted Villoteau's diagram of this oud on a different thread). The Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels has this type of Egyptian oud in its collection.

Based on everything we know, in the time of al-Farabi (who died in 950) and even 500 years later ouds had either four or five courses, not more. Ouds with a couple of additional courses appeared in the Ottoman Empire, but none as far as is known had 8 courses. It would be interesting to know where the information about a medieval oud with 8 double courses (rather than a total of 8 strings) comes from.

Oud Lover

Posts: 14
Registered: 9-11-2005
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posted on 2-9-2006 at 07:27 PM

HI every body
Its a very dignified answer from Dr Ashmawy and for anybody who doesn't know, adding 2 more strings to the oud to make it 8 strings are the least of his contributions.

Have a look at the long neck one sound hole floating bridge metal pegs and biggest of all is the mathematical formulae which he came up with. All this together with the right string gauges gives his ouds this magnificent sustain presence which can be heard in the later version which can be seen in Hussein Saber's video.

Looking at Dr Ashmawys work that I have been following since the early 80s and in all his articles, he was stating that Alfrabi had never invented an 8 oud string. The only thing that Dr Ashmawy adopted from Alfrabi was the methodology of mathematics in music.

As far as I know the only people who researched the relation between mathematics and music in Egypt were Dr Mustafa Musharafa and Ghatas Abdel Malik Khashab and last but not least Dr Magdi Ashmawy

The above picture illustrates the diagram which was done by French Scholars in Napolean Bonaparte's time in Egypt in 1798 which as you will see from the picture below that Naseer Shamma has based his false document on the above illustration.

Above the false document that Naseer Shamma attributes to Al Farabi.





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