Scored for two independent ensembles (string quartet and mixed quartet), Temporal Quartets is cast in the same structure as Conlon Nancarrow's Canon X. The piece opens with fast, energetic, contrapuntal music in the string quartet, and slow, subdued, chorale-like music in the mixed quartet. As the piece progresses, the fast music gradually slows down, and the slow music speeds up. The two quartets meet at a unified tempo in the middle, and then continue on their opposite paths. By the end of the work, the two ensembles have switched roles, and the strings carry the slow chorale, while the mixed quartet plays the fast, contrapuntal music.