Isabel Urrutia, José Luis Campana

Composers and independent researchers

: A new sound for the chamber and orchestral music in XXI century

‘World Timbres Mixture’ is our compositional method on new musical material, which we choose by aesthetic reasons and, basically, consists in blending instruments from the classical orchestra with timbres of instruments belonging to different continents, cultures and countries.
After research into the specific sound characteristics of instruments from folk traditions (such as the aulos, Aztec whistle, pungi, didgeridoo, French bagpipes, etc.), we created a ‘sound palette’ that lets us ‘colour’ the timbre of classical instruments with the timbre of instruments from the oral tradition, and vice-versa.
Concerning this ‘mix’ of timbres, we have discovered an ‘unusual, unprecedented and unlimited’ world of new sounds for our chamber and orchestral scores.
We would like to present our two first works written within the “World Timbres Mixture” framework:

-«MIXING UP»-For «live» classical wind sextet and digitized ensemble of 29 instruments from folk traditions by JOSÉ LUIS CAMPANA
-«ETORKIZ ETA IZATEZ» («By origin and by nature»)-For «live» trio and digitiz ed ensemble of 27 instruments from folk traditions by ISABEL URRUTIA

“The works composed by José Luis Campana and Isabel Urrutia are part of a movement, nourished by instruments from diverse cultures. The quest for exploration of timbre, an approach that has accompanied music since the beginning of the twentieth century, leads over a still little-traveled path. As a guiding light, it draws on the concept of timbre maps, such as those in research explored in the 1970s by John Grey in the United States, and pursued by David Wessel at IRCAM. That work is further illuminated by new categories allowing a better understanding of the dimensions of timbre, providing composers a vocabulary and new concepts, as researcher and composer Jean-Claude Risset has so clearly demonstrated. Navigating with a map of timbres is creating a palette of sounds that enrich instruments played live – it can lead to halos, masses, and textures, or all sorts of often-dense alloys that shift perception to unknown soundscapes.”(Marc Battier)
“What stands out in scores such as José Luis Campana’s Mixing-up as well as in Isabel Urrutia’s Etorkiz eta izatez [By origin and by nature] is orchestration that escapes all models. The composers assemble an unimaginable variety of instruments from very different cultures, weaving their sounds into those of the western orchestra. Listeners recognise an accordion here, a chamber ensemble there, but from these familiar instruments emerge textures that are in themselves new and unique. But this is not through resorting to electroacoustic processing techniques, which as we know profoundly transform timbre and sound form through studio technique, but rather through subtly blending instrumental sound sources. Thus creating sound matter that is at the same time akin to expectations of what concert music can offer, as well as creating wonder in the presence of these never-before-heard sound fabrics.” (Marc Battier)

Keywords: sound palette; mixture.


Jose Luis Campana worked as a teacher of contemporary music and analysis at the Paris National Conservatory of Music. Currently, he is a lecturer at “Musikene” – Higher School of Music of The Basque Country, where he teaches analysis for composition students. He is an invited professor at ESMUC-Higher School of Music of Cataluña, where he teaches composition. He has given masterclasses and seminars on music composition at the following institutions:Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt, Germany; IRCAM and GRM, Paris; Paris and Lyons Conservatories; ‘Franz Liszt Musikhochschule’, Weimar; ‘Mozarteum’, Salzburg; ‘Rencontres Franco-Allemands’, Bremen, Germany; Université de Orsay/Paris XI; Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires etc.

Isabel Urrutia works have been premiered with international soloists of the Intercontemporain Ensemble, Orchestra of Paris, Philharmonic Orchestra of France Radio such as: Pierre Strauch, André Cazalet, Jean Geoffroy, Julien Guénebaut…and also with international ensembles such as: Arcema Ensemble/Paris, Arditti Quartet… Her works have been performed in various concert halls and music festivals in Europe, America and Asia: in Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, U.S.A, Russia, China… She has given conferences and master classes on her music in various universities and conservatories, both in Europe and in America: Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Chile… She has won various national and international composition competitions with her orchestral works: The Spanish Association of Symphonic Orchestras Prize, (A.E.O.S.), “Grazyna Baciewicz” International Composition Competition of Poland…Currently, she is a lecturer at the Higher School of Music of The Basque Country.