Friday, December 5, 2014

Oud Dog, New Tricks: DuOud and "Nude for Death"



The great master oud player Rahim AlHaj once told us (Megan and me) about the relationship he developed with his oud. To him, the oud was like a living person, like a friend or parent or even a lover. When he first got one, he couldn't be separated from it and even slept with it. That to me encapsulates the kind of passion that the oud inspires in its players and adherents. As I've gotten to know some of the music and history of the oud, it seems to me that it is analogous to western classical guitar. I've heard a lot of oud in Arabic classical music, and it always came across to me as a stately, refined instrument. Then comes DuOud, which incorporates the oud into modern music, and yet does not diminish the elegance of the oud at all.

Now that might seem strange given today's song. Nude for Death is by the Paris-based DuOud. DuOud is made up of Algerian Mehdi Haddad and Tunisian Jean-Pierre "Smadj" Smadja, who specialize in Arabic fusion and a desire to reinvent the image of the oud, one of the traditional instruments of Arabic music. What DuOud do is mix oud with all kinds of stuff - jazz saxophone, guitar, samples, beats, and even African vocals. And yet still, at the base of it all, sits the majestic oud. Nude for Death appears on their 2009 CD http://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/mar/19/worldmusic. (Not sure why on this video, but even though the video is over 7 minutes long, the song ends at about 4:50 in and then it's just silent)