Richard Dumbrill (musicologist)

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Richard J. Dumbrill is an archaeomusicologist who was born in France (Epernay 1947). He has devoted his academic career to the study of the archaeomusicology of the Ancient Near East, especially the interpretation of cuneiform texts of Music Theory written in Sumerian, Babylonian and Hurrian. His interpretation of theory is based on his profound knowledge of Middle-Oriental Musicology. He has rejected previous interpretations which were based on Western Theory and therefore inadequate. One of his greatest achievements was the translation of the oldest song ever written found in northwest syria at the site of Ugarit. He made reconstructions of ancient instruments, notably the Silver lyre of Ur hosted at the British Museum, with Myriam Marcetteau and the Elamite harp of the battle of Ulai, with Margaux Bousquet. He is the founder, with Irving Finkel of the International Council of Near Eastern Archaeomusicology [1] (ICONEA) at the Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Studies, University of London,[2]. Richard Dumbrill has lectured at major world university, including Harvard and Yale, but also Babylon, Beirut, Damascus, Leiden, Rotterdam, Paris, etc.



  • The Musicology and Organology of the Ancient Near East, second edition. Trafford, Victoria, Canada.(2005) ISBN 1-4120-5538-5[3]
  • Idiophones of the Ancient Near East in the Collections of the British Museum 121 pages, Publisher: Gorgias Pr Llc (12 Jun. 2011) Language: English ISBN-10: 1611439566 ISBN-13: 978-1611439564
  • The Silver Lyre of Ur Copyright Richard Dumbrill ICONEA PUBLICATIONS LONDON Published 28 May 2015 ISBN 9781326289010
  • Musical scenes on Seals and Seal Impressions of the Ancient Near EastRichard Dumbrill ICONEA PUBLICATIONS LONDON 2015 ISBN 9781326289324
  • The Truth about Babylonian Music Near Eastern Musicology Online 4 6 |2017-08| p. 91–121.
  • Hurrian Song H6, score, transcribed from the original Cuneiform text. ICONEA PUBLICATIONS - LONDON
  • Elegiac Poem to Ishtar, score, Composed by Richard Dumbrill ICONEA PUBLICATIONS - LONDON
  • An Old Babylonian Lullaby. Score. Set to music by Richard Dumbrill for the BBC. ICONEA PUBLICATIONS - LONDON
  • Ashurbanipal Wisdom Song. Score. This song was reconstructed by Richard Dumbrill after an original Wisdom poem dating from the first millennium BC. It was specially composed for the Great Ashurbanipal exhibition at the British Museum in November 2018. ICONEA PUBLICATIONS - LONDON.
  • Song of Amun Re. Score. Composed by Richard Dumbrill on request from the Smithsonian Institution. ICONEA PUBLICATIONS - LONDON


  • Co-editor of ARAM with Shafiq AbuZayd
  • Co-editor of NEMO-Online with Amine Beyhom
  • Editor of ICONEA with Irving Finkel (2008)
  • Co-editor with Bryan Carr of the Ernest McClain Memorial Volume, forthcoming
  • Editor of Musical Traditions in the Middle-East. Proceedings of the International Conference held at Leiden University, 10-12 December 2009. Forthcoming.


  • The Truth About Babylonian Music
  • Middle East article, Music Prehistory to 1250
  • New evidence for Neo-Babylonian Enneatonism in Music Theory
  • Four mathematical texts from the Temple Library of Nippur
  • Earliest Evidence of Hepatonism
  • Goetterzahlen and scale Structure The Uruk Lute Elements of Metrology, The Morphology of the Babylonian Scale
  • Is the heptagram in CBS 1766 a Dial
  • Commentary on the new incised scapula from Tel Kinrot
  • Entretiens de Musique Ancienne en Sorbonne

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^

External links

Babylonian Musicology

  • This short video lists the texts included in the series and gives the link to Dumbrill's book: A concise Treatise on Sumerian and Babylonian Music Theory
  • Babylonian Musicology by Richard Dumbrill: H6, Richard Dumbrill explains his interpretation of cuneiform text H6
  • Babylonian Musicology by Richard Dumbrill: CBS 1766, Richard Dumbrill explains the metabolisation of the linear enneatonic system into the cyclical heptatonic system.
  • Babylonian Musicology by Richard Dumbrill: YBC 11381, Richard Dumbrill explains the survival of enneatonism in a late first millennium cuneiform text.
  • Babylonian Musicology by Richard Dumbrill: N 4782, Richard Dumbrill explains the theory in cuneiform text N 4782
  • Babylonian Musicology by Richard Dumbrill: U 7 80 left column, Dumbrill explains the construction of the right column of cuneiform text U. 7 80
  • Babylonian Musicology by Richard Dumbrill: U 7 80, Richard Dumbrill's explanation of the theory in cuneiform text U.7/80, right column
  • Babylonian Musicology by Richard Dumbrill: CBS 10996, Richard Dumbrill explains the function of cuneiform text CBS 10996
  • Babylonian Musicology by Richard Dumbrill: Nabnitu xxxii / U. 3011, Babylonian Musicology. Understanding enneatonism by Richard Dumbrill
  • CBS 10996 Richard Dumbrill comments in Kilmer's interpretation, Richard Dumbrill explains the misinterpretations of cuneiform text CBS 10996 and gives his own interpretation.
  • A Music from Ugarit - Echo from the past: Dumbrill explains his method
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