The original version of Toccata Meccanica was composed in the autumn of 1984. I have for long thought that it was a piece that would work well for wind band and I was delighted when Tim Reynish gave me the opportunity to make this arrangement. The music is substantially the same as the orchestral version, but I have been able to expand and enrich the texture in many places.
I spent several frustrated months trying to get the original piece started before writing it in one burst within the space of a week. I have never composed so fast before or since, and I hope that some of the explosiveness of the composition is conveyed by the music.
The character is deliberately ‘mechanical’, with a constant pulse throughout, and melodic ideas never get the chance to develop for more than a few bars at a time. The first half of the piece is fairly relentless until a central trio section, when the ‘machine’ pauses and gives the impression of winding itself back into gear, with appropriate creaks and groans. It wrenches itself violently back to life, and there are forceful rhythms from the whole band, until the climax leads to a remote echo of the opening music, more relaxed and sustained. But the work ends exactly as it began, as if the machine were ready to start up again.