Egyptian oud, Chinese pipa in harmony with cultural communication

An Egyptian girl plays music on oud, an ancient Arabic musical instrument, at the Arabic Oud House in a historical area of Cairo. The piece she is playing is the Chinese folk song Molihua (Jasmine Flower), which is usually played on pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument.

Shahd Hesham, 19, is an oud player and teacher at the Arabic Oud House. She also plays a piece of Egyptian music, highlighting the similarities between the tones created by oud and pipa, and between Egyptian and Chinese folk music.

"Egyptian and Chinese folk music can communicate and complement one another in many areas. For example, we can take music sentences from a Chinese track and play them in an Egyptian style, while the Chinese can take Egyptian music sentences and play them in their own style," Hesham says.

She explains that pipa is a string instrument just like oud, but it is a little smaller, it sounds a little sharper, and it is played vertically while oud is played horizontally.

Oud is the origin of many string instruments in the East, she adds.

When different cultures cooperate, the result is beautiful and diverse," Hesham says.

Mario Saied, another oud teacher and music composer, is doing a sound test before leading a performance in the yard of the Arabic Oud House. Saied, 24, expresses his belief that cooperation between different cultures in music means "richness".

"Difference in music is beautiful, and what's more beautiful is to have cooperation among different music instruments, which produce beautiful tones," he says.

"We're always trying and searching for a beautiful sound of combining instruments, so we try oud with Chinese pipa, the mandolin, Indian sitar, etc. Each experience is richness in itself," he adds.

The musician expresses his interest in Chinese culture, historical sites and artifacts.

"I have on my cellphone a photo gallery of Chinese artifacts and museums, which I am fond of. So, I hope there will be a chance for future music cooperation not only between Egypt and China but between Egypt and every place where there is music," Saied says.

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