Pia Siirala

  • Doctoral Student, MuTri-tohtorikoulu, Sibelius Academy
  • +358504414458



My research, “Kuulokulmia” (“Viewpoints of Hearing”) concentrates on the music of the indigenous people of North East Siberia. Getting to know their music has been a turning point in my life. It has changed my earlier views and ideals about music. It has made me question my perception of music, as I have been brought up in the western tradition of classical music. For us music is something that we produce, whereas in the culture of the indigenous peoples of the North, music is part of a person’s identity, a fundamental part of being human. Since 2009 I have made field trips to Chukotka, where the ancient musical tradition is still alive. Subsequently, I have returned to Chukotka in 2016,2017 and 2019. The Personal Song is a song that is given to every child at birth. Later, when people are adults, they create their own song, which is as natural as speaking. Singing is not a repetition of something that one has already heard, but as spontaneous as a conversation. It is also common to sing ancestral songs of the family. Through a personal song a person becomes present, even if he has died. Unfortunately, this aural tradition is vanishing, together with the traditional reindeer herding lifestyle.  

Through composing I explore how music is heard and shaped. It raises questions such as, what is the root of a musical thought, how does music flow in our subconscious mind or what is the relationship between hearing and synchronisation. My observations will be demonstrated in five doctoral concerts. The thesis will concentrate on the analysis of music of the North East Siberian indigenous peoples. Based on the material I have collected on my field trips; I especially examine the changes in the Personal song in the areas where nomadic reindeer herding continues to exist. From another viewpoint, I contemplate on how Chukchi traditional singing influences my musicianship, which has its roots in another cultural background. 

Pia Siirala studied at the Sibelius Academy, the Budapest Liszt Academy and at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. She is concert master of Ensemble XXI, founded by conductor Lygia O’Riordan, with whom she has performed throughout Russia, Europe, Australasia and the Americas. Siirala has also performed as a chamber musician, as a soloist and given solo recitals.  Since the autumn of 2016, Siirala has been carrying out her doctoral studies at the Sibelius Academy on the music of the indigenous people of the North East Siberia, Sakhalin, Kamchatka and Chukotka, where the ancient musical tradition of the indigenous people is still a living tradition. Her main research subject is the ancient music of the Chukchi people. Based on the indigenous music she has created several compositions.