Colin Booth very kindly took the trouble to re-record Tactus this year (2022). Written in 2010, I visited Colin at his home in Somerset and had the privilege of trying out some of the beautiful harpsichords he makes and restores. I wanted to create something that pays homage to this craftsmanship and also blend the instrument into a 21st century context.
The subtitle, A fantasia for harpsichord, is inspired by a sectional structure similar to 16th and 17th century fantasias with their free improvisatory elements; however, in this piece, each section’s motifs evolve throughout whilst the tempo is underpinned by a steady pulse. It is this which gives the piece its title, Tactus, a term used to describe a source of timekeeping dating back to the Renaissance, often around the rate of a human heartbeat. Whilst the metronome markings for Tactus have a broader range of tempos, the nature of the pulse behind the improvisatory elements remains constant throughout, and both title and subtitle reflect the instrument’s rich historical heritage.