I was taught to write music with a pencil. I remember those days so well – I would sit patiently at my desk, singing the music to myself and then writing it down. If I was tense about a project or a deadline I would hold the pencil so tight that I would get blisters on my fingers, and my arm would cramp up, and take weeks to recover. Writing music was an intensely physical activity. I got my first computer in 1993 and I have not written music with a pencil ever since, but I often wonder how – or if – the means of my writing had any effect on the writing itself. I wrote this piano piece to find out.
this was written by hand was written for the pianist Andrew Zolinsky and was premiered 23 June 2003 at Wigmore Hall, London. It is dedicated to Peter Helm, in honor of his fiftieth birthday.