Mankind has been making music for millennia, as we know from prehistoric flutes made out of mammoth ivory and the like. The oldest unarguable flute dates back some 40,000 years, from southwestern Germany: Some scientists think one even older, from Slovenia, may have been a carnivore-chewed bone. Somewhat more advanced are the string instruments, which were well entrenched by biblical times: Egyptian hieroglyphics dating from 7,000 years ago show instruments that look very much like harps and lutes.
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The oud also goes back into the dim reaches of history. Legend has it that it was invented by Lamech, sixth grandson of Adam. Be that as it may, the oldest depiction is from Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago. It is considered the forefather of the modern guitar and the latter-day lute, and is still played today throughout the Middle East.
The 14th Jerusalem International Oud Festival showcases the instrument's vast range. The festival starts at 9 P.M. on October 31 with a celebration of traditional Greek oud music – you'll need a ticket for that. If you're on a budget trip, you might prefer the Friday 2 P.M. oud concert by Israel's own Ilana Elia – it's the only festival event for which entrance is free.
Check out the link at http://www.confederationhouse.org/en/festival/international-oud-festival-2013 for the full program, including a tribute to the Egyptian nightingale who became an international superstar, Oum Kalthoum, on Monday at 9 P.M.
This year features two Israeli premieres, as the festival programs tells us, the Katerina Papadopoulou Ensemble with traditional Greek music, and the popular Turkish singer Sabahat Akkiraz performing Turkish folk and Sufi music. The festival also features the Israeli artists Yair Dalal, Amos Hoffman, Haya Samir and others.
Dates: October 31 to November 9.
Location: Confederation House, 12 Emile Botta St., in the neighborhood of Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem
Parking: There is a parking lot (for pay) located behind the King David Hotel, or you could try to find parking on King David Street. Good luck with that.
By bus: Lines 18 and 13. Get off at the Hebrew Union College stop.
Ticket prices: Vary by concert: Check the website.