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SECOND SPRING OF THE TREE WITH THE OUD

LUTHIER
RAMAZAN CALAY

The word oud originates from the Arabic "el-oud" meaning "aloe” (sarısabır) or “aloes-wood tree" (ödağacı). The “el” prefix is an article in Arabic. Since there are no articles in Turkish, the Turks have left out the "el" and transformed the remaining "oud" word into "ud".

Some sources cite that the oud was invented by the famous philosopher and scientist Farabi (872-950), who was also an astronomer, a logician and a musician; however, long before Farabi, ouds and similar musical instruments were seen in miniatures and reliefs. The real reason behind Farabi’s being perceived as the inventor is his being a musician with good command of the oud and his tuning system for it. As one the most comprehensive source of information about the oud, Farabi added the 5th string to the instrument, which previously had four strings.

After Farabi, we find the most detailed information about the oud in the great Islamic philosopher, Ibn Sînâ (980/1037). In his famous work titled Kitabu’l-şifa, when talking about the instruments of the period, Ibn Sînâ says that "the most famous instrument ever used is the oud", and describes it by illustrating technical information such as the oud's tuning and tones.

During the Crusades between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Europeans met and took this amazing instrument to Europe, where it will be called luth by the French, lute by the British, laute by the German, liuto by the Italians, and laúd by the Spanish; names all beginning with “L”. Even the word "luthier" used in the instrument making originates from this source.
 
The famous luthiers lived and died in our lands include Master Manol from Ortaköy (Emmanuil Venyos 1845 – 1915), Mihran Keresteciyan, who was born in Niğde and opened a workhsop in Beyazıt, Istanbul (1865 – 1940), İlya Manakis, who was born in Kapıdağ, Bandırma and opened a workhsop in the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul (1870 – 1930), Nihat İhvan who was born in Damascus (1870 – ?), Kirkor Kâhyahan from Istanbul, (1875 – 1933), Hamza Ali from Kütahya, who was a student of Master Manol (1884 – 1915), Murat Sümbül from Üsküdar (1884 – 1960), Levon Boğosyan Gözenoğlu from Diyarbakır, who had a workshop in Uzunçarşı Bazaar at Beyazıt (1900 – 1979), Onnik Garipyan from Thessaloniki (Küçüküner 1900 – ?), Âgâh İdem, who had a workshop in Kumkapı (1910? – ?), Sabri Göktepe from Kastamonu (1928 – 2000)…

One of the most important representatives of these talented masters who bring the "second life" to the tree, is Ramazan Calay, who has a workshop in Kadıköy Altıyol.

We had a nice interview with master Ramazan about music and the oud, which we believe to be very useful, and put it down on paper for our valuable readers.