The Oud is a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped, fretless stringed instrument (a chordophone in the Hornbostel–Sachs classification of instruments), usually with 11 strings grouped in six courses, but some models have five or seven courses, with 10 or 13 strings respectively. The oud is very similar to other types of lutes, and also to Western lutes.
Click the video below or this link to hear the Oud in action!
The Qanun is an Arabic string instrument played either solo, or more often as part of an ensemble, in much of the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, Central Asia, Armenia, and Greece. The name derives from the Arabic word qanun, ultimately from Ancient Greek: κανών kanōn, meaning “rule, law, norm, principle”.
Click the video below to see how the Kanun is used as an instrument.
The sitar is believed to have evolved into its present form in the 1700’s, during the collapse of the Moghul Empire. It can be seen as a marriage between the Persian setar and the South-Indian vina (or veena), while using the characteristically resonant bridge of the tanpura.
One particular lute family group, the tanburs, emerged in the region approximately the 3rd millennium BC–the word ‘tanbur’ is found in both Persian and Parthian texts. This instrument would spread, split and evolve into numerous other instruments including the barbat of Persia, and the sitar and tanpura of South Asia.
In ancient China, the term “pipa” was used generically to refer to many different stringed instruments, which poses a particular challenge for historians. The pear-shaped Chinese pipa resembles the European lute but dates back more than 2,000 years. Like many instruments of the lute family, its form probably originates from Central or South Asia. The pipa first appears in artistic and written records during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and reached the peak of popularity in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It has since become an indispensable element of Chinese folk music.