WORLD TIMBRES MIXTURE (WTM)
A new sound for the chamber and orchestral music in XXI century
“World timbres mixture” is our new method of composition with new sound material, chosen for aesthetic reasons, and which consists, fundamentally, in mixing the instruments of the classical orchestra with the timbres of instruments from different continents, cultures and countries.
After a period of research on the characteristics of each sound of instruments of popular traditions (such as the aulos, azteca, pungi, didgeridoo, bagpipe, diple, duduk, erke, kena, launeddas, shakuhachi, orlo, jubus, n’goni, oud, vina etc), we created a “sound palette” which allowed us to “colour” the timbres of classical instruments with the timbres of instruments of oral tradition and vice versa.
Regarding this “mix” of timbres, we have discovered an “unusual, unexpected and limitless” world of new sounds for our chamber and orchestral scores.
JLC and IU
Marc Battier on Mixing up by José Luis Campana and on Etorkiz eta izatez by Isabel Urrutia
The works composed by José Luis Campana and Isabel Urrutia are part of a movement, nourished by instruments from diverse cultures, often permeating music in this new century. Numerous examples can be found among Eastern Asian creators. In China, Japan, and Korea, the blending of contemporary Western forms – instrumental as well as electroacoustic – with traditional instruments takes place more and more frequently. It is often a question of composers seeking out their roots in their own traditions, so different from those imported from the West.
But here, this is not the case. The quest for exploration of timbre, an approach that has accompanied music since the beginning of the twentieth century, leads over a still little-travelled 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. It is also a triumph for late twentieth century researchers that today’s composers are extending that research by way of new musical creation.
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 recognize 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, Musicologist, Researcher at IRCAM and Professor emeritus at the Sorbonne-Paris
Ivanka Stoïanova on Etorkiz eta izatez [By origin and by nature] by Isabel Urrutia
Composer Isabel Urrutia excels in manipulating timbre. Listening to her music we are intrigued and fascinated by unknown sounds, produced by well-known acoustic instruments, but used in such a personal manner that we find ourselves immersed in a sound universe where the frontiers between western acoustic music, electronic music, and ethnic music from faraway lands are utterly abolished.
We are amazed by the refinement of this unfamiliar universe. Isabel Urrutia’s most recent piece, entitled Etorkiz eta izatez / By origin and by nature (2017), composed with the “World Timbres Mixture” new compositional technique, is a work for three live instruments – accordion, percussions, and txistu, the Basque wind instrument – and 27 instruments from folk traditions recorded on audio media. The sounds of the 27 instruments from widely-varied countries across the globe (including the lambi musical conch from the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Celtic harp, the Australian didgeridoo aboriginal aerophone, the Japanese shakuhachi flute, the Hindu pungi wood aerophone, the Malian n’goni griot lute, and the Hungarian cymbalom and the Tunisian jubus lute which blend so well with the vibraphone performed live, and so many others) are among the vast palette of instrumental sounds produced in collaboration with J. L. Campana and used as virtual acoustic instruments, blended together with the sounds of the live instruments.
The compositional objective is generating a sound universe that remains continually acoustic, freely modelling the natural timbres of the live trio, and the timbres of the 27 instruments of oral tradition which are not on stage, but whose natural sound is skillfully interwoven with the sound of the soloists. The fascinating result of this acoustic music without borders is fundamentally different from mixed music, which superimposes live music onto pre-recorded music developed in the studio using sounds that are concrete, instrumental, vocal, or electronic.
I.Urrutia reinvents sound matter without limiting space and time, by using with great finesse timbral interference of all the instruments at their disposal, while always going in the sense of the instrument and never against it, never violating or denaturing it. Obtaining the best ‘yield’, the purest, most beautiful, most natural, and most refined sound. The very personal work of Isabel Urrutia, defined by its unique orchestration where she often renounces standard usage of instruments in their familiar contexts, allows her to make unsuspected alloys and to obtain the unique gold of a new sound.
Ivanka Stoïanova, PhD in Musicology and Doctor Honoris Causa
Michèle Tosi on Etorkiz eta izatez [By origin and by nature] by Isabel Urrutia
I listen to vast expanses of boiling matter and its abrupt contrasts in register. The wide–spectrum wefts are genuinely never–before-heard, underscoring all the more the singularity of the timbres.
In your second movement I could identify a quite unexpected fugato. Doubtlessly inspired by the ‘monstrous’ organ performing it.
You make us perceive, in your composing, the infinite possibilities concealed in such a mechanism. Bravo!
Michèle Tosi, Musicologist
Jean Geoffroy on “World Timbres Mixture”
Find the sounds from their origins. The current instruments are the fruit of centuries of technical and sound development and improvement and have often lost the link with their origins.
Timbres, power, technics no longer have anything to do with the few notes that their distant ancestors could produce.
Whereas an ancient flute was made of a few holes drilled in a hollow wood, or a reed, the transverse flute retains only the breath of its origin but has lost the fragility of the sounds of the past as well as their timbres.
The same is true for most instrument families.
These ancient instruments, linked to ceremonies, or particular events of life in society carried within them the signature of the society in which they were played, and thus sometimes took on a sacred character, their sounds were a kind of signature of a clan, from a village.
It is on these “sound signatures” that José Luis Campana and Isabel Urrutia have been working for a long time already. It is not a question of inventing in the sense of a discovery opening up totally new fields based on sound synthesis, but of inventing in the sense of a re-discovery of sounds that we thought we had forgotten.
From a long work of sound collection, dreaming of a sound that would be a kind of “Reconciliation” between the sounds of today and those of the past, thus giving the sound itself the possibility of crossing all ages, from the origins to the present day.
This is the ambition of this project: A way for us, performers, to glimpse fields of sound exploration turned towards an original instrumental gesture, perhaps more intuitive, more informal, totally linked to sound as a material to be sculpted, modelled and rediscovered.
Jean Geoffroy, Percussionist, Professor at the Paris and Lyon National Conservatories of Music
Pascal Contét on “World Timbres Mixture”, April 25, 2018
“After our recent meeting with Isabel Urrutia and José-Luis Campana, there is no doubt that we must imperatively continue to work on their rich material which I will call” sonic metamorphosis “.
Like a chrysalis trapped in sound for centuries, I allow myself to imagine the pleasures of playing and hearing the sound universe once the composers have delivered it and exploited it under different glances of modern instruments and performers from the world of contemporary musical creation.
It invites us on an inner journey while thinking of the future. It links our memories to the colours we imagine or to even more unknown ones from cultures far away in space and time.
It is a project that connects the ancient and the modern. I have already been able to experience a similar encounter with the sheng, one of our oldest instruments (3000 BC) and the closest to the current accordion.
Enriched with a multitude of new instruments, research and sounds, it’s a new world of sound that José Luis and Isabel invite us to.
Acoustic and electroacoustic extension can indeed reveal many more sound horizons.
Pascal Contet on Mixing up by José Luis Campana and on Etorkiz eta izatez [By origin and by nature] by Isabel Urrutia.
Bravo to both of you… it’s exalting, amazing, curious yet self-evident to grasp, modern, innovative, and nevertheless deeply rooted in past centuries.
It makes us journey, we allow ourselves to be carried away on a beneficial cloud. Each passing second creates curious and avid anticipation of the next.
Pascal Contet, Accordionist and Composer
Marie Ythier on “World Timbres Mixture”
“After a first disc for solo and electronic cello, and the work on Indo-Persian influences with the composer A. Farhang, it seemed obvious to me to deepen this research on the timbral relations in so-called traditional music and scholarly music of the composers Isabel Urrutia and José Luis Campana.
This singular compositional approach offers new perspectives and questions, to both performer and composer.
How will the contribution of timbres from traditional music change the performer’s imagination? What will be the impacts of this modification on the musical gesture? How will the relationship to time change? To space? (Indeed, in traditional music, the duration of sounds is rarely determined by an enclosed space)
But also, the timbres resulting from traditional music induce a colour, a social function, a culture, codes. How to overcome it to create a resolutely new sound universe?
How should the performer adapt or not his instrumental gesture according to the proposed timbral universe? Is there a risk of a natural dichotomy? How will the alloy be made? The encounter? If there is an adaptation of the instrumental gesture, must it come from the score itself or from the imagination of the performer who is differently solicited?
I find this research absolutely fascinating and having already discovered the works written for orchestra and for the percussionist Jean Geoffroy by Isabel Urrutia and José Luis Campana, I look forward to working alongside them on these new sounds resulting from the meeting between timbres of classic instruments and timbres of traditional musical instruments. “
Marie Ythier on Etorkiz eta izatez [By origin and by nature] by Isabel Urrutia
I’ve listened to the pièce Etorkiz eta izatez. Bravo! I greatly enjoyed the progressive creation of the – virtually spectral – sound space governing the piece, as well as how the solo instruments infuse the material to come which then develops.
I find the approach quite interesting!
Marie Ythier, Cellist
François Bayle on the first CD “World Timbres Mixture” with the works “Mixing up”, “Nalu kamusi” and “Así …” by José Luis Campana and “Etorkiz eta izatez” (“By origin and by nature”) and “Mandala” by Isabel Urrutia / May 19, 2018.
Thank you for this great production of WTM (“World Timbres Mixture”).
I liked EVERYTHING!, as much the orchestral “Mixing up” as the percussions of Jean Geoffroy (“Mandala” and “Nalu kamusi”) excellent as always, or the guitar of Roberto Aussel (“Así…”) astonishing.
My compliments also to Isabel Urrutia whom I discovered with her very successful “Etorkiz eta izatez”.
New sounds and concrete ideas and vice-versa!, new ideas from renewed, displaced, globalized listening …
Sincerely, everyone, continue on this beautiful road.
François Bayle, Composer and Former Director of INA-GRM