Fanfare for Full Fathom Five

From Wind Repertory Project
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John Mackey

John Mackey

General Info

Year: 2015
Duration: c. 3:05
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Osti Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $120.00   |   Score Only (print) - $20.00


C Trumpet I-VI
Horn in F I-VI
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone I-II-III (contrabass trombone optional for bass trombone III)
Tuba I-II
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This new Mackey work, commissioned by Columbus State University Wind Ensemble, is a fanfare for brass and percussion.

- Program Note by Columbus State University Wind Ensemble

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

– William Shakespeare, The Tempest: I.2.396-401.

In The Tempest, this rather foreboding and gloomy text is sung by the tormented spirit Ariel to the young prince of Naples, Ferdinand, who has just escaped a shipwreck caused by the eponymous storm and is unaware of whether his father -- the King, Alonso -- has survived. In reality, Ariel’s dire taunt proves to be somewhat inaccurate, but his song has a place in the English lexicon partly due to two phrases which have entered common usage: “full fathom five,” a nautical reference that indicates a placement under a depth of thirty feet of water but is used metaphorically to imply an impossible and unavoidable doom; and “sea-change,” which describes an unexpected and profound transformation. Both of these images, along with the backdrop of a tumultuous squall, paint the musical language of John Mackey’s Fanfare for Full Fathom Five.

The fanfare is scored for an athletic array of brass and percussion: six trumpets (deliberately split into two quasi-antiphonal trios), six horns, three tenor trombones, three bass trombones, two tubas, and four percussion, with an ad libitum organ and the possible substitution of contrabass trombone. The orchestration and architecture of the piece is designed to be analogous to Richard StraussWiener Philharmoniker Fanfare, but where Strauss’ fanfare is emotionally straightforward with bounds of unstoppable heroism, Mackey’s is more complex, taking the traditional fanfare rhythms and motifs and blurring them with a whirlwind of dissonance through chromaticism and murky glissandi that present the whole in a darker and more sinister context. All of the typical hallmarks of the fanfare genre are present: vibrantly articulated triplets in the trumpets, soaring horn lines, and brash pedal points in the low brass (doubled colorfully by the organ). The harmonic language is one of abrupt shift; the blustery opening seems to clearly establish B-flat major as the home key, but each time it seems to reaffirm this notion, it veers wildly into unexpected territory. The piece ends triumphantly in E-flat, but along the way it also takes detouring ventures through D-flat, G-flat, and perhaps most strangely, E major during the work’s contrastingly delicate midpoint. In the end, despite a journey that is continuously rich and strange, the heroes win the day and, as in The Tempest, all comes to a happy and victorious conclusion.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of South Carolina (Columbia) Wind Ensemble (Cormac Cannon, conductor) - 24 September 2023
  • Cleveland State University (Ohio) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Birch Browning, conductor) – 2 March 2023
  • Florida A&M University (Tallahassee) Wind Symphony (Shelby Chipman, conductor)) – 16 February 2023 (CBDNA 2023 National Conference, Athens, Ga.)
  • Kansas State University (Manhattan) Wind Ensemble (Frank Tracz, conductor) - 21 January 2023
  • Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, Tx.) Wind Ensemble (Tamey Anglley, conductor) - 1 February 2022
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Ensemble (Cheldon Williams, conductor) – 10 December 2017
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Symphonic Band (Frank Denard, conductor) – 13 April 2017
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Ensemble (Nicholas E. Williams, conductor) – 13 April 2017
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Symphonic Winds and Wind Symphony (Gavin Smith, conductor) – 19 February 2017
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Sarah McKoin, conductor) - 9 February 2017 (2017 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • Dallas (Tex.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 24 January 2017
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Stephen W. Pratt, conductor) – 18 October 2016
  • Columbus (Ga.) State University Wind Ensemble (Jamie Nix, conductor) - 26 March 2015 (2015 CBDNA National Conference, Nashville) - *Premiere Performance*

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