Born in Mexico City in 1943, Estrada’s family was exiled from Spain in 1941. A composer, theoretician, historian, pedagogue and interpreter, he began his musical studies in Mexico (1953-65), where he studied composition with Julián Orbón. In Paris (1965-69) he studied with Nadia Boulanger, Messiaen and attended courses and lectures of Xenakis. In Germany he studied with Stockhausen (1968) and with Ligeti (1972). He earned a PhD in Musicology at Strasbourg University (1990- 1994). In 1974 he became researcher in music at the Instituto de Estéticas, IIE/UNAM, where he was appointed as the chair of a project on Mexican music history and head of MúSIIC, Música, Sistema Interactivo de Investigación y Composición, a musical system designed by himself. He is he first music scholar to be honored as member of the Science Academy of Mexico and by the Mexican Education Ministery as National Researcher (since 1984). He created a composition seminar at UNAM, where he has been teaching compositional theory and philosophy of composition.
He has written about a hundred articles based on his research, translated into English, French, German, Italian and Japanese. He is the general editor of the most complete publication on Mexican music history, La Música de México (Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, IIE/UNAM, México 1984, ca. 2000 p.) He has postulated a General Theory of Intervallic Classes, applicable to macro- and micro-intervallic scales of duration and of pitch. In the field of the continuum, Estrada has developed new methods of multidimensional graphic description of several parameters of sound or ryhthm. The French Ministry of Culture decorated him with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1981, 1986).
“The techniques and theories I have developed are based on mathematics and acoustics; the more neutral they remain, the better they serve the description of the imaginary: it is my ear-there everything is allowed-that gives birth to my music, which becomes the accurate, almost phonographic representation, of every detail coming from my inner hearing experiences.”