The Hanging Bulb consists of a continuous movement, divided into four sections: slow, fast, slow, fast. Sections 1 and 2 are thematically related, as are sections 3 and 4, so the structure could be described as a double couplet. The work expresses particular emotional and psychological states of mind, encapsulated in the title of the work which is an image of despair. Hanging light bulbs have been associated with despair and obsession in the world of art and in the real world. They became a significant image to the composer at the time of writing this piece, which was not born in happy circumstances.
Tension in the music is created through extensive use of the octatonic scale, bi-modal effects and thickly layered chords (such as occur near the end). The xylophone and bass drum are used as symbols of cruelty, while the piano has an important ‘personal’ statement in the first section. The last section has an obsessional quality which is expressed through repeated rhythms and motifs.