Although in its own way an example of 'continuous' music, Shaker Loops differs from most other works of its kind because it sees so much change within a relatively short amount of time. Also it avoids the formal and temporal purity of much 'minimal' music by not adhering to a single unbending tempo throughout, allowing for a freer movement from one level of energy to another.
The 'loops' are melodic material assigned to the seven instruments, each of a different length and which, when heard together, result in a constantly shifting play amongst the parts. The four sections, although they meld together evenly, are really quite distinct, each being characterised by a particular style of string playing. The outside movements are devoted to 'shaking' - fast, tightly rhythmicised, motion of the bow across the strings. The 'slews' of Part 2 are slow, languid glissandi heard floating within an almost motionless pool of stationary sound, whereas Part 3 is essentially melodic, with cellos playing long, lyrical lines (also loops) against a background of muted violins.