Musica exotica

Brian Kay, oud

The Peabody Consort from Baltimore is in town and stopped by Hawaii Public Radio to chat with Gene Schiller before their “Music of Three Faiths” concerts for Early Music Hawaii this weekend: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 pm at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu; and Sunday, Nov. 12 at 3:30 on the Big Island at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Kailua-Kona.

Here’s the podcast of the interview with Ian Capps, president of Early Music Hawaii and Brian Kay, who plays the oud, a Middle Eastern version of the lute. They discuss the merging of musical styles from this unique period in history.

If you go back and read my post about how a chance meeting led to the Peabody Consort’s concert tour in Hawaii, you’ll remember that I mentioned a bunch of exotic instruments that the group will be playing, starting with:

The gittern

The gittern. a relatively small gut strung round-backed instrument that first appears in literature and pictorial representation during the 13th century in Western Europe (Iberian Peninsula, Italy, France, England). It is usually depicted played with a quill plectrum, as we can see clearly beginning in manuscript illuminations from the thirteenth century. It was also called the guitarra in Spain, guiterne or guiterre in France, the chitarra in Italy and quintern in Germany. (Wikipedia)

The vielle

The vielle is a European bowed stringed instrument used in the Medieval period, similar to a modern violin but with a somewhat longer and deeper body, three to five gut strings, and a leaf-shaped pegbox with frontal tuning pegs, sometimes with a figure-8 shaped body. (Wikipedia)

In the Arab origin, Oud is considered to be “the king of instruments”. It is assumed that the name al-oud is derived from the Arabic for “the wood” and came to Europe through North Africa. There will be nothing wrong to say that in Arab, the oud is considered to be the oldest musical instruments. In fact, it is the most central instrument in the Middle Eastern music tradition. Some others believe that it is the ancestor of the Pharaohnic Egyptian Nefer, whereas, some others say that this instrument is the forebear of the ancient Persian barbat. Beside this, oud is also known as the ancestor of the European lute.

Woman playing the tar

The tar is an Iranian long-necked, waisted instrument, shared by many cultures and countries like Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and other areas near the Caucasus region. The word tār  means “string” in Persian, though it might have the same meaning in languages influenced by Persian.

The doumbek  (goblet drum) is a single head membranophone with a goblet shaped body used mostly in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. The origin of the term darabukka probably lies in the Arabic word “darab” (“to strike”). The original use of goblet drums in Babylonia and Sumer dates from as early as 1100 BCE. On Celebes one large form serves as a temple instrument, set on the floor when performed, which could be a survival of the ancient use of the drum.

Here is a kid drummer on the doumbek:

The riq is a type of tambourine.

The riq is a type of tambourine used as a traditional instrument in Arabic music. It is an important instrument in both folk and classical music throughout the Arabic-speaking world. It traditionally has a wooden frame (although in the modern era it may also be made of metal), jingles, and a thin, translucent head made of fish or goat skin (or, more recently, a synthetic material).

Woman playing the ney in a painting from the Hasht Behesht Palace in Iran, 1669.

The ney is an end-blown flute that figures prominently in Middle Eastern music. In some of these musical traditions, it is the only wind instrument used. The ney has been played continuously for 4,500–5,000 years, making it one of the oldest musical instruments still in use.


All this makes for a most fascinating set of concerts. Tickets may be purchased at the door or at the Early Music Hawaii website.

You can be sure that I will be there!


About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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