4, 5 and 6 December, Senate House


Malet street, LONDON WC1E 7HU

Emergency phone number: 07930 150 600 – email: rdumbrill@iconea.org

Wednesday December 4, 2013, Room 104

1400 Registration

1500 Speeches: Paul Archbold, director of the institute of musical research; Irving Finkel, rIchard Dumbrill, ICONEA

 1530 Richard Dumbrill

          The problematics of musical theory transmission under the obnubilation of political and religious interference: before and after Berossus.

1630 Coffee Break

1700 Irving Finkel

          Babylonian into Greek at the end of the First Millennium.

Thursday 5, Room 104

1000  Coffee

1030 Leon Crickmore

          In Chapter 9, ‘Plato’s Musical Trigonometry’, of his book The Pythagorean Plato, Ernest McClain proposes a highly imaginative musical interpretation of the cuneiform tablet Plimpton 322. Unfortunately, the author’s omission of the first column of the text severely undermines his case. This paper re-assesses the musicality of Plimpton 322 and explores its possible connection with the musical cuneiform tablet CBS 1766.

 1130 Bruno de Florence

          Revisiting Plato’s Symposium, looking at its structure and at the two épainos from Aristophanes and Socrates. I will then propose a phenomenology of what I call the ‘act of transmission’ from a semiotic standpoint, which will include references to Peirce, Freud and Lacan.

 1230 Discussion and lunch

 1400 Piotr Michalowski

          There is a small number of cuneiform texts from ancient Mesopotamia that mention musical matters. Chronologically, these clay tablets come from different periods, spanning more than a millennium of literary practice. In this paper I will attempt to evaluate the place of these texts in the Mesopotamian written tradition and to evaluate the levels of stasis and change over the years.

 1500 Nick Stylianou

           Where Tetrachords Meet: Changing Perspectives on Modulation. 

          The transmission of classical music theory through Western tradition has influenced several structural distinctions and their associated terminology, such as the genera of tetrachords (diatonic, chromatic, enharmonic), systems of combination (conjunct, disjunct) and the naming of the modes (Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, etc.). At the same time the Western tradition has blended various distinctions, for example the notion of authentic/plagal modality compared with major/minor tonality, and the subtle distinctions of microtonality compared with the flexibility of equal temperament. My presentation provides with an organisational classification of scales highlighting the interaction between diatonic and chromatic genera of tetrachords and their conjunction and disjunction. This gives a perspective on the changing notions of the term ‘modulation’ within the Western tradition, and a potential bridge towards approaching concepts aspects of modality in non-Western traditions.

 1600 coffee break

 1630 Theo Krispijn

          2100 B.C. Break or Continuation in the Mesopotamian Musical Tradition? The earliest Mesopotamian texts with theoretical musical terminology come from the Old-Babylonian cities of Ur and Nippur  around 1800 B.C. The terminology is based on the handling of musical instruments. I will investigate to what extend musical instruments were newly introduced in the Ur III and Old-Babylonian periods or if they were used in earlier periods and consider if this terminology came from earlier. My sources are the iconography of musical instruments, Sumerian lexical and literary texts, especially the Shulgi hymns from the Early Dynastic to the Old-Babylonian period. Administrative documents from the Ur III period mentioning the production of musical instruments in workshops, the teaching of music, worship of divine instruments, and musical ensembles from Old Babylonian Mari.

 1730 Round Table

 Friday 5, Room G 35

1000 Coffee

 1030 Alan Prosser

          The history of the performance of the music of the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey are an interesting approach to a possible notation of their sacred compositions.  This presentation will attempt at answering  such questions as why did the Mevlevis not previously notate their music or did they consider that notation would not be sufficiently accurate.

1130 Richard Heath

          Transmission of Astronomical Musicality into Mythic Narrative.  

1230 Lunch Break

 1400  Theodora Psychoyou and Christophe Cordier

           This contribution focuses on the reception of the eight lines of Pindar’s first Pythic Ode with music notation published by Anthanasius Kircher in his 1650 Musurgia Universalis. He would have copied it from a manuscript found in a Sicilian Library. This fragment, now generally rejected as a fake or a pastiche, was considered, from Kircher till the twentieth century, as an important source of Ancient Greek Music although there were many doubts raised by scholars since the end of the eighteenth century (Charles Burney for instance), the First Pythic was regularly studied by many historians, especially August Böckh who, in his De Metris Pindari (1811), made of this fragment an authentically Greek musical document and a specimen of ‘Dorian music’. Other historians, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Maurice Emmanuel, quoted the First Pythic in their essays, before the composer André Jolivet, influenced by Emmanuel, used it in his score Iphigénie à Delphes in 1943. Thus we intend to show how scholars and musicians, in a rational, scientific way, imagined Ancient Greece and recreated ‘Greek music’ on the basis of philological data considered as ‘genuine’ during three centuries.

 1500 Round table and conclusions.

 1800 Drinks

 Fees: £75 and £45 for concessions.

Click on this link for registration form.

For local hotels, please click on this link.

 For direction to Senate House, University of London, click on this link.

Click on this link for more information on ICONEA 











NOVEMBER 22, 23 and 24, 2012


Senate House

Chancellor’s Hall

Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU

This conference will welcome contributions in all aspects of the aerophone instrumental category: History, iconography, typology, organology, philology, etc.

There is no limitation as to the length of contributions, within reason (not more than one hour).

We are delighted to announce that this conference will be fully equipped with ‘up to date’ audio visual technology.

The fees are £75 for delegates and £45 for concessions for the three days. £30 per day, and £15 per day for concessions. A link will be provided for your registration and payment. This fee will include refreshments at breaks. Affordable meals can be taken at local restaurants.

For local hotels, please click on this link.

Please, send your abstracts as soon as possible to rdumbrill@iconea.org

Click on this link for your registration form

mail to: rdumbrill@iconea.org for all other matters or phone me on +447930150600

 For direction to Senate House, University of London, click on this link.

Click on this link for more information on ICONEA 


Thursday 22

1400: Registration

1430: Speeches: Paul Archbold, Irving Finkel and Richard Dumbrill

Chair: Irving Finkel

1445: Dumbrill

When is a pipe not a pipe?

I shall investigate so-called pipes, flutes, etc., from Neanderthalians, Cro-Magnons, etc. and up to to the literate Ancient Mesopotamians and later Mediterraneans.

1545: Tea/coffee Break

1615: Nicholas Stylianou

Diagrams, Cyclic Orderings and Aristoxenian Synthesis

Despite difficulties surrounding the authenticity of writings on classical Greek music theory they have nonetheless been highly influential in subsequent theoretical developments. The broad polarisation of the domain into the Pythagorean and Aristoxenian traditions reflects the tension between their respective numerological and phenomenological approaches to music theory. Between these extremes Aristoxenus identifies the Harmonicists, commending them for their interest in musical reality whilst criticising their grasp of musical logic. Written some six centuries later, Claudius Ptolemy’s Harmonics also stands out in attempting to reconcile reasoning and perception.
This paper employs contemporary diagrammatic representations of the various tetrachord species, as catalogued by Ptolemy, which form the building blocks of classical Greek musical structure. Particular attention is given to Aristoxenian criticisms of the Harmonicists’ lack of attention to musical synthesis and consecution, specifically the katapyknosis (καταπύκνωσις) or close-packing of their diagrams and their use of cyclic orderings limited to a single genus in the range of an octave.  It is hoped that the materials from this study may form the basis of a systematic framework against which these classical Greek music-theoretical constructs may be better understood.

1715 – 1800: Round table

Friday 23

Chair: Myriam Marcetteau

1000: Max Stern

Shofar: Sound, Shape and Symbol.

The shofar has always been considered a magical instrument associated with the revelation of God’s voice at Mount Sinai. Later, Joshua brought down the walls of Jericho with shofar blasts – in the ancient world, sound was known to influence matter. The shofar is the oldest surviving instrument still used in Jewish ritual. Its sound, shape, and symbolism are integral to the High Holiday Season. This lecture-demonstration exhibits a variety of shofar types and discusses their origins from animal to instrument through visual aids. It demonstrates the traditional shofar blast and deals with historical and symbolical issues aroused by it strident sonority. It concludes with a DVD presentation of the shofar as an artistic instrument, integrated into a contemporary biblical work by the author.

1100: Tea Break

 1130 : Malcolm Miller:

The music of the Shofar: ancient symbols, modern meanings.

The Shofar discussed in biblical and post-biblical literature, is associated with a rich nexus of metaphorical symbolism, which has evolved over the course of time, and includes such concepts as supernatural power, joy, freedom, victory, deliverance, national identity, moral virtue, repentance, and social justice. While modern definitions have focused on the instrument’s signalling, ‘non-musical’ character, there is evidence already in the ancient writings of its ‘musical’ function, whose potential to evoke a profound aesthetic response has led to multiple interpretations of its meanings. Composers in 20th-21st centuries have incorporated the shofar into their works as a powerfully eloquent musical resource, from Elgar’s The Apostles premiered in October 1903 to Jörg Widmann’s opera ‘Babylon’ premiered at the Munich Opera just a few weeks ago in October 2012. It is the purpose of this presentation to discuss these more recent uses of the shofar and the way composers interpret the shofar’s ancient symbolism in a contemporary context, thereby highlighting both its ceremonial/religious, and its musical/aesthetic qualities.

1230 : Lunch Break

Chair : Barnaby Brown

1400 : Bruno de Florence

Shofar, Totemism and Voice: a Freudian-Lacanian Approach

From a commentary by Jacques Lacan on a text by Theodor Reik, I shall attempt to outline how we can consider musical practices as incarnated thinking. Borrowing from the notions of perception (Merleau-Ponty), jouissance (Lacan) and libido (Freud), I shall propose a model of musical performance and its listening as a continuous path along a multidimensional Moebius strip, structured by the enigma of the real of the body. Shofar….

1600: Tea/coffee Break

1630: Myriam Marcetteau:

Wind instruments from the ancient near East to the Greco-Roman period.

This presentation will investigate the evolution of two types of aeropohones from the Ancient Near East to the Greco-Roman period. I will focus on iconographic, philological, historical and sociological clues, for evidence of their affiliation. Some sources are easily traceable, such as the link  between the Mesopotamian hierodulae  and the female players of the abub-instrument. Some others, even though the affiliation is more hypothetical, are worth researching: I will attempt at giving possible origins for the ancient oriental roots of the qarnu and of the tibia/aulos.

1730 – 1800: Round table

Saturday 24

Chair: Richard Dumbrill

1000: Alan Prosser with the participation of Tansy Honey:

The organology, musicology, theory and spirituality of the ney

The construction which has remained the same for at least 800 years, as shown from extant examples in the museums in Konya. I will describe the type of reed used, where they are found; their treatment and preparation; the making of the ney; its playing; its pitch range and the reason for having a pitch set of 34 within an octave. I will further discuss the Pythagorean and Sufi use of Makams for a deeper musical experience; how the intervals make it possible to assist with this process and give examples. I will discuss the possible source of makam construction extracted from the Ney and micro-tonalism, with examples.

1130: Peter Strauven/Jan M.F. Van Reeth:

The Organ on the Mosaic of the Musicians from Maryamin at the Museum of Hama, Syria.

The mosaic (end of 4th c. AD) found in 1960 in the village of Maryamin (Syria) is one of the most important iconographic sources discovered in the last decades. Not only the high quality of craftsmanship makes this mosaic an essential object in art history: it is also the unusual theme depicted here that deserves closer examination. The emblem of the mosaic portrays with rare precision a musical scene in real-life format: six female musicians and two boys are playing music in a concert setting, on a stage. One of the instruments used in this concert is a pneumatic organ. Illustrations of pneumatic organs in their early history are very rare (in contrast to the more popular hydraulis), but what is more: given the great quality of the mosaic, the level of detail and the preciseness of what is represented, this picture of the organ can be considered as exceptionally accurate.  In this way, the mosaic of Maryamin allows us to analyse this organ from different points of view. Since it is an essential source to our understanding of the construction of pneumatic organs in late antiquity, we will point to organological details (such as the bellows of the wind supply system) not only because these technical aspects made it possible to prove earlier hypotheses, but also because such construction particularities in the instrument betray several influences, which are also reflected in other details of the concert scene. These influences run parallel with our deductions from contemporary literary sources, allowing us to put forward some hypotheses concerning the possible origin of the pneumatic organ and the different contexts in which the eastern pneumatic organs were used.

1300: Lunch Break

1400:  Barnaby Brown

Problems playing a modern reproduction of the silver pipes of Ur.

1530 Tea/coffee Break

1600: Concert lecture

Omar Bashir and the Bashir school of ‘ud in Baghdad and beyond.

Munir Bashir who died in 1997 was one of the most famous Iraqi ‘udists in the Middle-East during the 20th century and a recognised master of the Arabian maqam.

Bashir’s music is characterised by a unique style of improvisation which is the consequence of his his study of Indian and European music in addition to Oriental forms.

Omar Bashir  was born in 1970 in Hungary.

At the age of five, he left Hungary with his parents to live in Iraq, where he was educated. The ‘ud he plays in performance is in the same he had as a child.

At the age of seven Omar studied at the Baghdad Music and Ballet School where he became a teacher in his late teens. He created his own ensemble of twenty-four musicians, specialising in classical Iraqi music. Omar’s performed with his father from the age of thirteen.


The death of his father marked a turning point in his musical career. He won many awards and on the first Anniversary of 9/11 was invited to play in the USA to raise funds for the Iraqi Symphony Orchestra which had been flown over on that occasion. Omar is certainly the most innovative ‘udist to date.