Canons is for string quartet and, although it was originally written in 1972, it was revised in 2013. It lasts around four minutes and is dedicated to Igor Stravinsky as a memorial at the time of his passing.
It was first performed in the original version on 30 September 1978 at the Friend’s Meeting House, Blackheath, UK, by Megan Cross and the composer (violins), Pamela Store (viola) and Dorothy Strutt (cello).
The first three bars state the main thematic idea, played by viola followed by 2nd violin. This is then expressed as a canon between 1st violin and viola, with an ostinato on 2nd violin and a rhythmic variation of the theme on the cello. Two developments of the theme are then presented in pairs and in canon, the first by the two violins and the second by viola and cello. This is followed by a section containing only rhythmic developments; towards the end of this, the 1st violin states the mode on which the main theme is based, followed by the viola in canon. At the climax of the work, this mode is expressed in various rhythms by all instruments, ending quietly on an E flat and a note-cluster. The coda presents the main theme, a short canon and ends in octaves.