Private Ensemble was written, recorded, and laboriously edited over the course of 17 months, composed both traditionally as well as through the clustering and organization of improvisations. McCann played violin, viola, cello, flute, piano, glockenspiel, and percussion. He was forced to notate samples of bassoon, french horn, and timpani, as those were not available resources at the time.
Taking multi-tracking to extremes, many of the pieces surpass 100 layers of instruments. However this structural depth does not lead to chaos; no sound on Private Ensemble is unintentional. The objective with the ambitious multi-tracking and precision editing was to achieve the sound of a full orchestra. The only other person appearing on the album is vocalist Kayla Cohen , her layered singing is formed into a small choir to help conclude the record.