Dome Songs employs a text derived from two lines of Percy Bysshe Shelley's elegy Adonaïs:
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity
The first song employs the text in its original form, and the next two rearrange and contort these lines to create new meanings and emphases, altering the positions and roles of key words in the passage.
The pitch material is derived principally from 12-tone techniques, but secondarily through intervallically controlled free atonality. The principal melodic lines are drawn from 12-tone rows designed to exhibit several levels of symmetry and a carefully calculated internal structure. Harmonic and contrapuntal material generally derives from the row itself.
Register is structurally essential in every movement and selected by a number of criteria, which vary from one song to the next.
This compositional system is highly controlled yet allows a substantial measure of creative freedom, resulting in a lyrical, expressive, yet strongly and compellingly structured piece of music.