Middle Eastern music spans across a vast region, from Morocco to Iran. The folk music comes from the various nations of the region including the Arab countries, North Africa, Iran (or Persia) and Israel. Despite the major languages associated with these countries, the traditional music can be seen as a single tradition because of the unifying element of Islam. Islam has historically found music problematic in their culture. This fact has resulted in relatively little religious ceremonial music within the mosque. Activities resembling music have been limited to the call of prayer and the chanting of the Quran. While religious music was not promoted or used in mosques, Middle Eastern folk music continued emerge in the secular community. In this style of music, the Arabic scale is strongly melodic. Unlike much Western music, Arabic music includes quarter tones halfway between notes, often through the use of stringed instruments like the oud or the human voice. Further distinguishing characteristics of Middle Eastern and North African music include very complex rhythmic structures, generally tense vocal tone, and a monophonic texture. Traditional Middle Eastern music does not use chords or harmony in the Western sense. Oud music in the Middle East forms the backbone of Arabic music. This style of music revolves around the oud instrument—the word referring to the agar tree wood this stringed instrument is made from. Pronounced “ud” — this instrument, a plucked stringed musical instrument with a pear-shaped body, rounded back made of wood strips and a bent back pegbox, precedes the European lute. It’s different from the lute because of its musical tone—a tone which has helped it earn the crown of being the granddaddy of all Arabic instruments. Also, it is lower in pitch compared to a violin and more resonant than a guitar. Whether used solo or accompanied by vocals, the oud is the most important stringed instrument in Middle Eastern music culture. You will hear the six-stringed instrument’s music in many soundtracks, plays and dramas set in Arabia.