Ziya Tabassian started playing the tombak at the age of 11. He began his formal training in Iran and has pursued his training independently by following the classic treatise by tombak master Hossein Teherani. From 1994 to 2001, he studied classical percussion under Julien Grégoire and completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance at the Université de Montréal. In the winter of 2002, Ziya benefited from advanced tuition in tombak from Bahman Rajabi in Iran. During a residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts in the winter of 2003, he explored the contemporary repertoire for the tombak.
As a percussionist, he is equally at home with classical and modern ensembles as in world music. He is a founding member of Constantinople and of the Prémices duo. He as collaborated with several other soloists and ensembles, most notably Kayhan Kalhor, Liu Fang, the Kronos Quartet, En Chordais, the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal and Ensemble Caprice.