Top 5 Oud Artists in the World

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With its pear shaped body and fretless structure, oud is a string instrument that has a very original and exotic sound. It is very popular especially in Arabic and Turkish music. Here are some of the well-known master oud artists around the world.

Coşkun Sabah

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Coşkun Sabah is a Turkish composer, singer and oud artist who has composed more than one hundred songs from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. He is a well-known musician who’s followed by millions of music lovers. His best-selling cassette was "Aşığım Sana", which sold three million copies.  Coşkun Sabah gave his compositions lots of famous Turkish musicians. He is also considered as inventor of electric oud and a master of playing it.

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Dhafer Youssef  

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Dhafer Youssef was born in Tunisia, and his grandfather was a muezzin. Although religious music is really his background, he developed an interest to world music at a very young age with the music he listened to from radio; later on he said “radio was my best teacher”. In 1990 he left his country for Europe and combined his country’s traditional music with jazz and avant-garde elements. He has collaborated with lots of musicians around the world. Some of the musicians Youssef has performed with are Ustad Zakir Hussain, Uri Caine, Tigran Hamasyan, Jon Hassell, Markus Stockhausen, Nguyên Lê, Omar Sosa and Hüsnü Şenlendirici with his voice and oud.

Yorgo Bacanos

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Yorgo Carlo George Kehdy was a master oud artist and improvisational composer of Ottoman classical music. He started known as ‘Udi Yorgo’ at his 15 and became a very successful oud artist. As one of the most renowned oud artists of his time, he played with the other masters of his era, including Münir Nurettin Selçuk and Zeki Müren in Turkey, and Umm Kulthum and Munir Bashir in the Arab world. Yorgo Bacanos also gave concerts in many European countries. The techniques he has found are still used by today’s oud artists.

Ara Dinkjian

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Ara Dinkjian is an Armenian musician born in America. His first teacher was his father and the master oud artists who he listened to from gramophone records. He plays lots of instruments both from east and west but he has become most well-known with his oud playing. Dinkjian is considered one of the top oud players in the world, also his compositions have been recorded in thirteen different languages. He was performed in the closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Dinkjian has written songs for Turkish singers including Sezen Aksu, Kibariye, Ahmet Kaya, Coşkun Sabah and many others.  

Naseer Shamma  

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Naseer Shamma is an Iraqi oud artist and he is a composer of music for film, television and the theatre. He began studying the oud at the age of 12 in Baghdad, he has adopted Jamil and Munir Bashir’s style. After graduated from Baghdad Music Academy in 1987, he became renown in Arab world and beyond with his oud virtuosity and the compositions he made. He has founded the Arab Oud House in Cairo in 1999. He is also known as being a humanitarian and his contributions to the world peace. He was named as an UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2017.

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