Richard J. Dumbrill

Richard J. Dumbrill was born in 1947, France. He Studied music at Reims (piano, harmony, fugue, counterpoint, composition, direction, analysis, classics).

Moved to Fez from 1975 onwards to study the traditional music and organology. He was appointed Director of Dar Hadara and of the Institut de musicologie et organologie arabe. There he created his own Moorish mediaeval orchestra. Studied Music in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Moved back to London and has worked at the British Museum since 1988.

Richard Dumbrill is the founder of ICONEA, the international conference of Near Eastern archaeomusicology (last two conferences held at the British Museum and at the Sorbonne Paris IV) he is senior editor of the conference proceedings along with Irving Finkel; senior editor of ARANE (Archaeomusicolgical Review, Near East). He sits internationally as a PhD defense Jury and conducts PhD theses. Richard Dumbrill is considered as the leading world authority in the Music of the Ancient Near East and has published numerous articles and two major works: The Archaeomusicology of the Ancient Near East, and The Idiophones of the Ancient Near East in the Collections of the British Museum. He is about to publish other works on the Silver Lyre of Ur, and the Elamite Harps of Assyria; The Seals and Seal Impressions of musical scenes in the Collections of the British Museum, as well as other works, notably an English translation of Al-Farabi’s Book of Music. He is currently replicating the Mesopotamian instrumentarium of the Ancient Near East with some of his students. He appears often on musical programmes of the BBC, etc.

Presentation at Tunis 2010
This presentation will discuss the most recent discoveries in Ancient Sumerian/Babylonian music theory. This come from cuneiform texts dating from the third to the first millennium BC and shows that Babylonian scholars had devised musical systems that the Greeks only discovered a 1000 to 500 years later. The Nippur mathematical tables dating from about 2300 BC confirmed that the Babylonians had invented musical quantification 1500 years before the Greeks thought about it, and that these numbers were the basis for Plato’s famous ‘number’. We find that much later, such great names as Farabi, Kindi, Rushd, Sina, etc. were all direct inheritors of the Babylonian genius, as well as Western scholars such as Boethius, Mersenne, Salinas, etc.

Richard Dumbrill is a leading expert in the archaeomusicology of the Ancient Near and Middle East. His publications include The Archaeomusicology of the Ancient Near East and the Idiophones of the Ancient Near East in the Collections of the British Museum. In preparation: The Silver Lyre of Ur, with Myriam Marcetteau and the Elamite Harps, with Margaux Bousquet; a translation of Farabi’s works on music and a catalogue of the cylinder seals with musical scenes in the collections of the British Museum. Richard Dumbrill is the founder of ICONEA, (International Conference of Near Eastern Archaeomusicology) with conferences held at the British Museum and at the Sorbonne University Paris. Other conferences are planned at Ankara, Isfahan, Shiraz and Beirut.

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