Percussion and Rhythm in Iran, India and the Eastern Mediterranean


Since 2021, the Royaumont Foundation has joined forces with the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac to launch a new Academy. . The aim is to bring together masters of tradition, “passers-by” who create the link between tradition and creation, and young composers, musicians, improvisers and singers from all horizons.

Beyond the concepts of modernity and tradition, beyond even the cultures, the Academy proposes to discover or deepen a traditional practice from different cultural geographies and to experiment the process of transcultural creation.

For this third edition, the Academy will be led by the composer and percussionist Keyvan Chemirani (France/Iran), a true creator of musical bridges, with the multi-instrumentalist Efrén López (Spain) at his side. The two artists are both masters of tradition and passers-by: heirs to a traditional practice, they excel in the art of crossing musical languages.

Based on the rhythmic and melodic modes of the repertoires of Iran, India and the Eastern Mediterranean, the aim of this edition will be to develop, adapt and cross traditional and modern improvisational practices, in a transversal approach, in order to find new modes of expression:

  • Work on the internalization of measures, based on the Iranian method of teaching the zarb, by learning and memorizing sequences of rhythmic variations, formalization and applications of concepts of oriental music (Iran, India) and Eastern Mediterranean music (Turkey, Greece) for their use in the composition of modal music.
  • Development of the philosophy of transmission in the oral tradition, the relationship to improvisation, the relationship of the musician’s work to the body in personal work.

At the end of the Académie, two public performances will be given,the content and presentation of which will be conceived, composed, created and invented by the participants in the Académie: one at the Abbaye de Royaumont during a Fenêtre sur cour[s] on 26 August 2023, the second in the Théâtre de verdure of the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac during a concert on 27 August 2023


Keyvan Chemirani (France/Iran)

Born in Paris in 1968, Keyvan Chemirani grew up in the hills of Manosque. He was trained in Persian art music by his father Djamchid, born in Teheran, a zarb virtuoso. The great master was keen to combine his traditional music with the theatre (Peter Brook’s Mahabharata), dance with Maurice Béjart or Carolyn Carlson or contemporary music.
Today, Keyvan has become a master of the zarb, the daf and the bendir. The art of Iranian percussion is based on poetry. The structure of the instrumental pieces for the zarb is inspired by Persian poems, the blows on the goatskin covering the instrument echo the feet of the verses. For Keyvan, music cannot be limited to the secular Persian repertoire, for it is above all a matter of sharing. He loves encounters and mixtures to create bridges between East and West and between all forms of music.

As a curious musician, he travels around the world improvising with many artists, singers and instrumentalists. These improvisations capture the particular characteristics of different traditions and reveal surprising similarities, showing, for example, how Iranian percussion can be similar to the sound of the Indian tabla, how the Breton language sounds almost Mediterranean.
His instrument, the zarb, has found a place in the world of jazz. Keyvan has collaborated with the likes of Didier Lockwood, Sylvain Luc, Louis Sclavis and Renaud Garcia-Fons. An explorer, he also enjoys working with early music ensembles such as Dominique Vellard’s Ensemble Gilles Binchois, La Chapelle rhénane with whom he recorded Schütz’s Psalms of David, and Leonardo García Alarcón’s Cappella Mediterranea, with whom he was invited to perform as a soloist and with whom he premiered Falvetti’s Il Diluvio universale at the Ambronay Festival.

His first opus Le Rythme de la parole was released in 2004. It brings together guests from different musical backgrounds (Mali, South India, Iran, Morocco, Provence, Brittany, Turkey and the Arab-Andalusian world). In 2006, he produced Le Rythme de la parole II, which features Ali Reza Ghorbani, Nahawa Doumbia and Sudha Raghunathan, three singers, each of whom has a vocal tradition.
During the International Festival of Nomadic Music in 2005, Keyvan Chemirani met the Mauritanian singer Mohamed Salem Ould Meydah. Together, they created Tahawol, a unique encounter between Persian percussion, flamenco and Mauritanian dance and song.

As a loyal member of Royaumont, he participates in encounters that combine the oral poetry of slam with musical experience, such as Slam et percussions, created in 2005, and Slam et souffle, created in 2006. Keyvan Chemirani thus transfers to the field of contemporary and urban music the junction that he has managed to make between the prosodic and musical structures of several sung languages.
2008 was marked by his encounter with the Indian tabla of Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, which resulted in the album Battements au cœur de l’Orient.
In 2013 he created Trio Chemirani and The Rhythm Alchemy, in 2015 The Rhythm Alchemy, and in 2018 Hâl with his singer sister Maryam, his brother Bijan and the flautist Sylvain Barou.

Among the many bridges that Keyvan Chemirani likes to create is the Jasmin Toccata project with lutenist Thomas Dunford and harpsichordist Jean Rondeau.
In 2022, he composed his first opera Negar, which premiered at the Deutsch Oper in Berlin.

Alone or with outstanding musicians, he performs all over the world. He reveals to his audience the infinite possibilities of Persian percussion. He was able to transform the Persian musical heritage into multiform creations.
Efrén López (Espagne)

Efrén López was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1972. He is a musician, composer, producer and sound engineer specialising in the plucked instruments of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Asia. He has studied the hurdy-gurdy and the techniques of various Eastern Mediterranean instruments.

He has participated in countless projects with musicians from all over Europe, the Arab world, Turkey, Iran and India. He has played with Jordi Savall & Hespèrion XXI.

He is the founder of the Petrakis/López/Chemirani Trio, L’Ham de Foc, Evo, Aman Aman, EAR and Sabir.

He has performed all over the world with these projects and regularly gives workshops on instrumental technique and modal music theory. Since 2005 he has been organising traditional music workshops in the Valencia region of Spain, bringing traditional forms closer to local musicians.


10 composers, and/or instrumentalists, and/or singers.
Young artists in the process of higher education or with professional experience.

The participants show a stylistic openness and a taste for research and musical creation in all its forms, and have a regular musical practice, in particular in collective forms.
The course welcomes musicians who are already experienced in the field of improvisation, but also musicians with a written background who wish to be guided in their first approach to this practice.


Group theory sessions.
Group practice sessions, in large or small groups.


20 to 26 August 2023 [
arrival on 19 August at the end of the day, departure after the post-training concert on 27 August at the Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac]
6 days of training – 42 hours

Public presentations

Fenêtre sur cour[s] at Royaumont on 26 August 2023 at 6pm, consisting of a restitution of the work done during the training
Concert at the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac on 27 August 2023 at 5pm [paid post-training concert]. [concert post-formation rémunéré]

Selection of candidates

Selection based on application (google form link)

Documents to be provided :

  • Biography
  • CV
  • – Motivation letter: highlighting skills and qualities, reasons for wanting to participate in the Academy, expectations.
  • Picture
  • Several video links with musical extracts. Good sound quality is essential.

Application deadline: 26 February 2023

Response to your application: 13 March 2023

All Royaumont Foundation training programs have a minimum access time of 11 working days.
For example, if the Royaumont Foundation validates the application on June 14, it can offer the beneficiary a course that begins on June 29.

Fiche programme

Number of traines minimum / maximum

Minimum: 6 composers, and/or instrumentalists, and/or singers.
Maximum: 10 composers, and/or instrumentalists, and/or singers.

Pre-requisites and conditions of access to the course

Young artists in the process of higher education or with professional experience.
Participants should have an open mind and a taste for musical research and creation in all its forms, and should have regular musical practice, particularly in collective forms.
Previous experience of improvisation is desirable.
The participants formally commit themselves to follow the entire training course, i.e. 6 days of training and 1 day of post-training concert.
Have a good level of spoken English. The conditions of access are transmitted during the training.

Targeted competencies / operational objectives

At the end of the training the beneficiary will be able to :

  • – Recognise the modes and rhythms of the musical cultures of Iran, India and the Eastern Mediterranean discussed during the course, and know how to reproduce them on their instrument.
  • Identify the keys to approaching the oriental modality, and the means of integrating this practice with that which he possessed before the Academy.
  • – To have acquired an enriched practice of improvisation.
  • – To have developed a capacity for listening, learning and openness to practices and music far removed from one’s main practice and/or that which was the object of one’s main education.

Based on the rhythmic and melodic modes of the Iranian, Indian and Eastern Mediterranean repertoires studied during the course, the aim will be to develop, adapt and cross-reference traditional and modern improvisation practices, in a cross-disciplinary approach, to find new modes of expression.

Discovering voices towards improvisation

Based on the rhythmic and melodic modes of the Iranian, Indian and Eastern Mediterranean repertoires studied during the course, the aim will be to:
Developing, adapting and crossing the transversality of traditional and current improvisation modes.
Nurture a process of using improvisation for research purposes.
– To work towards bringing together different expressions of improvisation and traditional rhythms. –
To enrich one’s approach to this mode of practice.

Educational objectives

  • To discover or deepen theoretical knowledge of a specific repertoire.

Use the technical specificities to build a sensitive interpretation and present the fruit of this work in public during the final performance.

soft skills

To find one’s place within a group in order to defend a coherent and homogeneous musical discourse.

Course description/content of the training

BEFORE COURSEMeetings between course participants via videoconference.A collective meeting with the beneficiaries, the facilitators and the educational manager.
DAY 1Welcome of the participants to the training
>presentation of the beneficiaries, the speakers, the referents (pedagogical, administrative) ; – presentation of the premises ; – presentation of the course of the training; – reminder of the targeted skills/operational objectives
> presentation of the premises ;
> presentation of the course of the training;
reminder of the targeted skills/operational objectives.
Face-to-face reception, with all the participants in the training.
DAY 2Group theory sessions.
Group practice sessions, in large or small groups.
Sessions facilitated by the speakers.
DAY 3Morning: discovery session of a selection of instruments from the national collection of the Quai Branly -Jacques Chirac Museum.
Afternoon: group practice session.
Session moderated by the speakers and members of the Quai Branly -Jacques Chirac Museum.
Session moderated by the speakers.
DAY 4Group theory sessions.
Group practice sessions, in large or small groups.
Sessions facilitated by the speakers.
DAY 5Group theory sessions.
Group practice sessions, in large or small groups.
Sessions facilitated by the speakers.
DAY 6Group theory sessions.
Group practice sessions, in large or small groups.
Public performance.
Sessions facilitated by the speakers.

Methods used

Pedagogical resources
  • Group theory sessions.
  • Group practice sessions, in large or small groups.
Technical means at your disposal
  • Workrooms, equipped with desks and chairs.
  • Outside of class time, during the training period, work rooms for individual or small group sessions can be made available free of charge, upon request and subject to availability.
  • Documentation via a private google drive.

Beneficiaries bring :

  • their own instruments (except for particularly bulky instruments provided by the training venue) ;
  • the scores that are not provided by the training site.

Monitoring and evaluation methods

Before the course

Final selection on the basis of an application file, via an online form, by the pedagogical director, through a questionnaire which allows the needs of the beneficiary to be identified.
Evaluation of the professional level by the biography, CV, scores and recordings requested.

During the course, face-to-face

During the classroom training: evaluation of the beneficiary’s reactivity and ability to quickly integrate the proposals made by the trainers, as well as his/her capacity to integrate into the group.

During the presentation at the end of the training: the interpretation of one or several works in a real situation in front of an audience allows to appreciate the evolution of the interpretation, as well as the emotional and physical postures.

The beneficiaries sign a sign-in sheet for each half-day.

End course :

A certificate at the end of the training, mentioning the objectives, the nature and the duration of the training and the results of the evaluation of the training achievements, is given to the beneficiary, as well as the certificate if applicable.
The beneficiary fills in a qualitative evaluation form in order to assess the training’s achievements from an artistic, pedagogical, human and material point of view.
Concerts outside the framework of the training allow the evolution of the career of the artist and/or his/her ensemble to be followed after the training, and in particular to evaluate the quality of the interpretation as well as the number of concerts given.
A post-training follow-up is established, for which the beneficiaries are asked to inform during the six months following the end of the training of the contracts they have obtained.

Accessibility and consideration of disability situations

The Royaumont Foundation has made the acceptance and participation of people with disabilities a strong commitment to its project. Our training courses are open to people with disabilities and different arrangements can be made according to the specificities of each course. To discuss your needs, please contact us when you register.

  • Rooms accessible by elevator.
  • Screen equipment and amplified speakers.
  • Catering on the first floor.

Pedagogical manager

Jean-Philippe Wurtz, Musical creation pole director

Administrative manager

Samuel AGARD, from the Création musicale Pole
Phone : +00 33(0)1 30 35 59 83

Disability referents

Samuel Agard and Doriane Trouboul


Concert de l’Académie de musique transculturelle 2022 au musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
Concert de l’Académie de musiques transculturelles 2021 au musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

In partnership with musée Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

Cet atelier de formation professionnelle est soutenu par la Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso, la SACEM, le Groupe ADP.
La Fondation Royaumont est membre du Réseau ULYSSES cofinancé par le programme Europe créative de l’Union Européenne (

La certification qualité à été délivrée au titre de la catégorie d’action suivante :

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