It is approximately 21 minutes in duration. It is dedicated to the LaSalle Quartet who gave its first performance in Baden-Baden on the 14 December 1969.
The five movements differ widely from each other in their types of motion. In the first, the structure is largely broken up, as in Aventures. In the second, everything is reduced to very slow motion, and the music seems to be coming from a distance, with great lyricism. The pizzicato third movement is another of Ligeti's machine-like studies, hard and mechanical, whereby the parts playing repeated notes creates a "granulated" continuum. In the fourth, which is fast and threatening, everything that happened before is crammed together. Lastly, in strong contrast, the fifth movement spreads itself out. In each movement, the same basic configurations return, but each time their coloring or viewpoint is different, so that the overall form only really emerges when one listens to all five movements in context.