Essay II is one of a group of pieces for solo instruments (superficially rather like Berio's Sequenzas) that take the instruments' characteristics as a starting point for composition. Here, among other things, the problem of registration combinations and their respective dynamic variations called for a mosaic approach to structure.
There are two basic musical types - one slow-moving, rhythmically free and harmonically more neutral (clusters); the other fast-moving, rhythmically defined and harmonically characterized by a restricted family of intervals. These two types are most clearly defined at the beginning of each of the first two sections; from these starting points, both these sections and the subsequent three trace an increasing interaction between the types, beginning alternately from different stand-points. This development leads us back to the neutrality of the opening cluster, so that the whole piece is a large parenthesis - an attempt to comment on nothing: an attempt doomed to failure but interesting (possibly even beautiful?) while it lasted.