These six short pieces were composed for Friedman's own brass chamber group, the Zephyr Quartet. The Dances are based on different but related pitch sets, each of which is generated by the available overtones of the various valve combinations: Tango (open-C7 + 1, 2, 3-F# 7) · Polka (open-C7 + 1, 3-G7) · Minuet (open-C7 + 2, 3-Aflat 7) · Balkan Two-Step (open-C7 + 1, 2-A7) · Sarabande (open-C7 + 1-B-flat7) · Hora (open-C7 + 2-B7).
These sets are further contrasted with the additional sets of excluded pitches. The results yield modes and harmonies suggestive of music from various cultures and ethnicities. Zephyr Dances is published in both quartet and quintet (18002100) versions (which differ slightly).