DIA per orchestra

by Paavo Heininen

Empty sheet

Paavo Heininen

DIA per orchestra

Fennica Gehrman


My opus 36 is the result of a NOMUS (i.e. inter-nordic) commission concerning a work for an orchestra of moderate size. The title page of the score bears the growing figure pattern, which was my original identification (‘title’) for the work. So ‘Triangulus’ (as I called it until this sunmer) was only a verbalization, and Dia is simply my new verbalization of an unchanged pictorial ‘title’. I wanted first of all to eliminate the allusion to number three, because in many respects the number of this piece is five — often ‘my’ number in general. One connotation of the title-pattern is its wedge-form, which characterizes many sound-gestures of the music. But mainly, and verbalized as Dia, it refers to the idea of an arrow pointing through the multidimensional musical space of the piece — the beginning of a trajectory crossing through all of it, visiting every point, but a trajectory free of any preordained form or curvature.

These trajectories were my main interest in this piece. Their relative freedom is based on my view of musical form and musical time as not a real flow, but only (?) a memory and an anticipation inside the present — a spatialized, pictorialized concept of the flow of time.

Form for me is not so much a psychological process resembling an experiment or a provocation unfolding while the piece is being listened to for the first time, but rather an idea of time — when we have a score, a tape or a disc, or an accurate enough image of the piece in our memory. Anticipation, then, does not mean guessing what is to come; rather, past and future (i.e. what we know of the rest of the work) condition the present moment as different details of any ‘significant form’ or gestalt condition each other — and then of course you have the kind of dynamics of arranging different stimuli which govern the composition of a good dinner. And my refutation of time is not a refusation of the sensual aspect of mystery, the ever renewed re-cognition of each work’s timeless world — a potentially more positive isle of lotus-eaters. My ‘significant forms’ have a certain resemblance with film director’s technique of ever-moving camera — they are ‘super-melodies’ and their ‘intervals’ are shifts of interest from one parameter to another.

An attentive listener may easily perceive fluctuations concerning the validity of this statement for different sections of the work. Generally I feel rather strongly about a number of musical taboos; so the fact that I am in some sections balancing on the dangerous fringes of some obvious taboos should not earn me the contempt of those who have still stronger taboos — nobody should be deceived about the density of the sieves after which I do have permitted those passages.

Some friend may find disappointing my neglect of seeking ‘previously unheard sounds’. My decision in this piece is not altogether representative, because it was qualified by the commission to write music ‘of not more than moderate technical difficulty’. Still, music for me is not ‘organized sound’, but rather organizations of sound, or relationships, so that when only sounds have been heard, then the attempted criticism ‘deja entendu’ becomes an admission ‘pas encore entendu’. I seek, and would like you to hear, a new ‘tone of voice’ as constituted by the particular geometric laws of my multidimensional musical space.

Dia is in one continuous movement but contains five distinct sections. The opening section is clearly the ‘main movement’ with its oen type of distribution of change and continuity. As descriptions of sections I might give the following two sets of titles (which of course may be replaced by a third one or altogether withdrawn after the premiere):

I ...line to plane...

II triangles

III points

IV waves

V wedges


I lambent

II labile

III mobile

IV haptile

V rampant.”

© Paavo Heininen, 1979

Dia kuuluu samaan teosryhmään kuin Maiandros, Tritopos, Gymel ja Touching; läheistä sukua ovat myös Discantus III, Reality ja Cor meum. Yhteisiä ovat monet harmoniset detaljit, monet koloristiset ja dynaamiset artikulaatiot sekä topiikan (s.o. stereofonisten äänitapahtumien) tärkeä osuus. Mutta Dia – tai oikeammin sen ensimmäinen jakso – on monitasoinen synteesi kaikesta siitä, mikä aikaisemmissa teoksissa on kasvanut esiin: musiikillinen avaruus, jossa kaikki ulottuvuudet ovat tasa-arvoisia tapahtumasuuntia ja kaikki niiden kombinaatiot yhtä mahdollisia. Dia on siten musiikkia, jossa ei ole mitään pysyvää vaan kaikki voi muuttua koko ajan ja mielenkiinto suunnataan jatkuvasti vaihtuviin äänen aspekteihin. Ongelmana oli pakottaa jatkuvasti uudistuvat pisteet linjaksi; ratkaisuksi ei kelvannut uudistumissuunnan ankkuroiminen ehdollistettaviin odotuksiin – vaan ääniärsykkeiden psykodynamiikan tasapainottaminen, joka muistuttaa Palestrina-tyylin normeja – mutta ’melodia’ tarkoittaa nyt koko akustista tajunnan virtaa ja ’intervalleja’ ovat kaikki akustisen tilan muutokset ja niiden yhdistelmät.

Tätä periaatteellista ääritilannetta on hieman lievitetty. Siten I jakson materiaalissa on selvästi erikseen ’sostenuto’-tapahtumia ja ’nopeita’ tapahtumia, s.o. melodisia, harmonisia, rytmisiä, koloristisia, dynaamisia, kineettisiä, stereofonisia tai haptiileja (joissa siis äänen sileys tai rakeisuus vaihtelee) tapahtumia joko hitaassa tai nopeassa aika-asteikossa. Linjan jatkuvuutta varioivat tauot (tarkoin ehdoin!), pilvimäiset siirtymät sekä tietyn profiilin omaavat eleet – profiili on usein ryöppymäinen.

Jaksot II–V ovat luonteeltaan I jakson tapahtumarunsauden tasaantuvia resonanssivärähtelyjä. II ja IV jakso ovat hitaita, III scherzomainen ja IV energinen finaali.

Dia on Sveriges Orkesterföreningars Riksförbundin NOMUS-tilausteos.

© Paavo Heininen, 1979

(ohjelmakommentti teoksen kantaesitykseen 12.9.1979)


2222 2220 02 0, pno, str


Works for Orchestra or Large Ensemble

Opus no.



Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Leif Segerstam, Helsinki, 12 September 1979


In one movement (Sections: ...line to plane... - Flow - Speed - Grain - Energy) (...or: Lambent - labile - mobile - tactile - rampant)

Commisioned by / dedications

NOMUS Commission by Sveriges Orkesterföreningars Riksförbund SOR (National Federation of Swedish Orchestral Associations)

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