Ziya received his first tombak for his 10th birthday, at his request. After a short period of initiation in Iran, he self-trained following the technique of the grand master Tehrani. From 1994 to 2001, Ziya studied European classical percussion under Julien Grégoire. In the winter of 2002, he went to Iran to develop his tombak playing with Bahman Rajabi.
As a percussionist, Ziya Tabassian is specialized in both early music (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque) and contemporary/new music. He also plays world music. Ziya is a founding member of the Constantinople ensemble and Duo Prémices. He has recorded several albums, including five with Constantinople for the Atma label. He has also contributed to recordings by Kronos Quartet, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, En Chordais, and Lo’Jo. He has released a first solo CD on Ambiances Magnétiques, the result of his personal research work of the last few years, based on the rhythm cycles of early Persian music and sonic experiments on traditional and non-traditional instruments.