Born in Nubia in an area that now lies under water thanks to the Aswan Dam, Hamza El Din is perhaps the greatest player of the Arabic stringed instrument called the oud. When El Din heard about the Dam he left his studies in Cairo and returned to Nubia, where he wandered with his oud and learned traditional songs. His first recording, released in 1963, established a new form of Arabic folklore. He continued playing and composing modern versions of traditional Nubian music in Europe and later in America and Japan. El Din, who has performed extensively in Europe, America and Japan, frequently opened for the Grateful Dead, whose fans embraced his regal Arabic voice, gentle elegance, and sheer virtuosity. Most of his music features only oud, vocals, and the taar, a large framed hand drum. He now calls Oakland, Calif., home.