Sébastien Robert

Sébastien Robert
pas labex
pas Eurias
pas FIAS

dates de séjour

01/02/2023 - 31/07/2023


Arts et études des arts

Fonction actuelle

Chercheur et artiste

Institution actuelle


pays d'origine


lien internet

projet de recherche

Rise and Fall

As part of the MuCEM/IMERA Fellowship, Sébastien would like to focus on a musical instrument that he always felt a strong emotion when listening to growing up in Nantes and travelling around Bretagne during his youth: the Bagpipe. Perhaps naively, he always thought this instrument was from there, and it was only recently that he started to investigate the matter more seriously. He was surprised to learn that, in reality, it is a trans-Mediterranean sonic practice that passed through and shaped part of the cities of Alexandria, Marseille and Athens without being even known by many people. The oldest reference to bagpipes appeared in Alexandria in about 100 B.C, under the name of Zummarah-bi-soan, Greek writings mention the presence of Gaidas in Athens in about A.D. 100, and it is commonly believed that Romans brought it to Marseille, known as Cornemuse, around the same period. In other words, it is a symbolic instrument of Mediterranean intercultural exchanges, which has evolved over the centuries before becoming popular in the rest of Europe. Interestingly enough, through time, the bagpipes became a regional symbol in Bretagne and a national one in Scotland, while it almost vanished from where it originally came from.

Research questions

Besides the obvious variations as ‘objects’ and in iconographic representations (both in imagery and imaginary), which highlight the multitude of bagpipes that exist; Sébastien would like to understand how different they are from each other by focusing my research on their musical and physical characteristics. Multiple questions are to be asked: how did they sound before the normalisa- tion of the international tuning system in 1936? How does the harmonic structure internally work? What precisely creates different frequencies, timbre, transient, lengths of drones etc.? How the instruments are working from a fluid mechanism perspective. Above all, how/why/when did all these parameters evolve through time?

The project will constitute the fifth chapter of Sébastien Robert’s research cycle You’re no Bird of Paradise in which he explores disappearing(ed) indigenous sonic rituals and cosmologies. In collaboration with the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (Mucem) and the PRISM Laboratory, the research will ultimately lead to the creation of a large-scale sound installation.


Sébastien Robert is an artist and a researcher with years of experience working for different European organisations mainly revolving around digital art, experimental sound and technology