The element which ensured structural unity in Panufnik's works was symmetry and, more widely – geometry. All of his compositions contain a series of symmetrical patterns and references, equally in the area of form, harmony and melodic lines. Moreover, beginning in the 1970s, the composer represented the form of his works visually as geometric diagrams; most often, these would be created prior to the actual sound material, at the pre-compositional stage. It was at this point that he found geometry particularly helpful - the diagram, inspired by the shapes of geometric figures, would provide a structural framework which would help the composer to order 'his music, his thoughts and his feelings'.
Panufnik’s passion for symmetry corresponded to a pronounced tendency towards limiting the musical material. At the base of the majority of his compositions lies one - sometimes two - selected interval cell, which constitutes the point of departure for all the harmonic and melodic procedures. In the course of the composition the cell undergoes a variety of transformations – transpositons and reflections, i.e., procedures resulting precisely from the principles of symmetry. Even though musical language built on the three-note interval cell (E-F-B) became the structural basis of Panufnik’s compositions after 1968, elements of cellular thinking and tendencies towards limiting musical material can already be discerned in his early works, such as the Tragic Overture with its four-note 'fear' motif. On the other hand, the early 1980s saw a certain loosening of the rigid rules – beginning with Sinfonia Votiva, the musical material bound within the sound cell connects with lines shaped quasi-tonally, which is reflected in the enriched timbral layer of these works.