Howard Skempton's distinctive presence on the British musical scene, and his prolific compositional output since the mid-1960s, have presented commentators with certain challenges as they contemplate which labels to apply, and, for music analysts, which techniques to deploy. Skempton's own comments, in various interviews and essays down the years, remain the ideal starting point, suggest a range of contexts, some of which underpin this study. With reference to a few of his smaller vocal and keyboard compositions, the quality of constantly shifting rather than strictly fixed elements is explored. When pitch materials conform more or less exactly to tonal or modal tradition, rhythm is particularly important as a determinant of subtle shifting. But it is often the case that pitches identities themselves shift between functions best defined as tonal scale degrees at one extreme and post-tonal pitch classes at the other. The result is a very personal and unaggressive kind of modernism.