The main portion of Veljo Tormis' work are choral songs – for mixed choirs, female choirs, male choirs, children's choirs, vocal ensembles... almost all of the possible ensembles with singers, plus the lesser-known solo songs and the music for voices and orchestra.
Just as the voice is at the heart of his work, the music’s relationship to folklore has a strong distinctive role. That is where Tormis directed most of the energy of his work. Speaking of his musical language heritage, he acted as a sound archaeologist, bringing archaic runic song into the limelight and seeking in a fascinating way to give it a new life in art music.
The younger Tormis also wrote for orchestras and instrumentalists, but hardly any at all in later life. Then it was only for stage and film music, which still accumulated over the years in a considerable quantity.
A separate chapter in the works list is the pedagogically oriented children's music for young instrumentalists and singers. A researcher can find many shiny gems there.
The world of ancient songs revolves around the rituals of human existence and its (natural) environment. That is where the axis of Tormis' creation is located. The focus is also on the person and their voice. This music is word-centred, pulse- and sound-sensitive, there is also a theme of society and a thread of social history which a contemporary person may find obsolete in the present day.
However, the natural poetry of Tormis' music speaks more convincingly today than ever before, as if it were an incantation to repel any dangers rising on the horizon.