The first of the concerto's four movements, in a medium fast tempo, is the most traditional and uses the lyrical qualities of the trombone primarily. The linear nature of the music draws in part from jazz. In the slow second movement, we hear the great timbral variety of which the trombone is capable, producing beautiful varied sounds with many different mutes, some of which may be used in several different ways.
The third movement is very much like a symphonic scherzo. Here, the soloist produces duets by singing one note while playing another. In addition, the extreme upper register of the trombone is featured several times.
In the finale, the soloist uses what musicians call 'circular breathing,' inhaling through the nose while blowing air into the instrument, a technique known in many non-European musics. Stuart Dempster learned it from playing the didjeridu of the Australian aborigines, who may also make double sounds and bark animal calls through their instruments while the music continues. I attempted to give this movement a thrust that would enhance the primitive quality. It also makes, I hope, a fitting finale."