Throughout this string quartet, one tone cluster, the "primary cluster", is developed and varied in each of the four movements, as the unifying factor.
Movement One is a through-composed section organized by texture, orchestration, and pitch material, derived from the primary cluster. Divided into eleven sections, the movement includes an introduction, five complete divisions, four transitional segments and a coda. The primary cluster gradually grows from measure one through measure eleven, beginning with the unison pitch D. Upon reaching measure eleven, the cluster realizes its principal form: C#-D-Eb-E.
Movement Two is also through-composed, although slightly rounded by the relationship between the beginning and the ending. This movement consists of eight sections, including an introduction, four divisions, two transitions, and a coda. The pitches in measures two through four are repeated in retrograde in measures eighty-three through eighty-five; those played by the upper three instruments in measure one are repeated verbatim in the last measure, as well as the cello melody that concludes the movement.
Divided into eight sections, Movement Three is a loose rondo, concentrating equally on its various motives and on the primary cluster. Unlike the first two movements, it does not have an introduction. Instead, there are four sections, with the first section repeating before the coda, and three transitions to separate each of the four structral divisions.
Movement Four is an expanded rondo, contrasting a total chromatic idiom with a diatonic character. It is by far the largest of the four movements. The movement has eighteen sections consisting of ten variants, with the initial variant occurring four times, and the second and third variants occurring twice. There are also six transitional sections and a coda, which is an expanded version of the introduction to this movement.