Sennets Cortege, and Tuckets


Sennets Cortege, and Tuckets


for band

  • Premiere: 20 April 1989  / Vogel Concert Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin  / The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Symphonic Band / Thomas Dvorak
  • Instrumentation: 2(I=picc) 
  • Duration: 9'

Program note

Sennets, Cortege, and Tuckets packs a lot into nine minutes. The title is drawn from a line in Shakespeare's Henry V (IV:ii): "Let the trumpets sound the tucket sonance and the note to mount!" The three-part form echo's the title: sennets are ceremonial trumpet calls used as a signal for ceremonial entrances; a cortege is a ceremonial procession; tuckets are trumpet flourishes.

Maximalist in feel, the entire piece actually unfolds from two simple, interlocking melodic ideas: one (tuckets) is a quick melody in running sixteenth notes; the other (sennets)  is a fanfare based on notes "picked out and sustained" from that tune. A third idea, derived from the rhythm of the tuckets, forms the rhythmic background to the melodic cortege that forms the middle third of the piece.

The piece starts serious, and gradually deteriorates from there. Imagine, during the first third, that a vigorous young King Henry is delivering Shakespeare's rousing St. Crispian's Day speech. During the second section, imagine Henry, post-battle, touring the battlefield with his retinue.

The final third begins with a grotesquely elided recapitulation of the opening section -- the English troops are perhaps celebrating their victory over the French, raising the middle fingers of their sword hands in defiance as they depart.

This culminates in a drunken, Ives-ian explosion of ideas that carry the music away from the battle and into the present day -- overlapping allusions to Scott Joplin, Erik Satie, Leonard Bernstein, and a rude quotation of the University of Wisconsin Fight Song (On Wisconsin), all within fifteen seconds. This is broken up by the sound of police whistles, as though, like the knights at the end of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the combatant themes are rounded up by present-day police (musicologists?) and hauled away in paddy wagons.

It was composed during the summer of 1989 at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Commissioned by a consortium of Wisconsin college bands in 1989, it was first performed by Thomas Dvorak and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Symphonic Band at the Vogel Concert Hall in Milwaukee on 20 April, 1989. It is dedicated to my brothers (both of whom, like me, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison as undergraduates) Kevin and Britt. 

Participating conductors and schools in the 1989-90 CBDNA Commissioning Project were Larry Harper - Carroll College, Waukesha, Lewis Schmidt - Lakeland College, Sheboygan, Mark Eichner - Parkside College, Kenosha, Donald George - University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Kevin Collins - University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Thomas Dvorak - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Kay Gainacopulous - University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Dennis Glocke - University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Patricia Wellman - University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, and Glenn Hayes - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.)


Sennets, Cortege and Tuckets pulls in a lot of references, some of them extramusical (Shakespeare. Monty Python. The University of Wisconsin Fight Song. Yes, really) in a lighthearted and humorous piece based around the idea of trumpet-calls for various applications. The composer has a wonderful sense of instrumental color, and an accessible harmonic language.

— Records International Reviews, February, 1999

Daron Hagen's music ... is big and shiny, ... seemingingly rooted in jazz and the American neo-Romantic: highly crafted, instrumentally colorful, basically tonal, and very listenable. Percussion is also included, lots of drums and mallet instruments adding to the somewhat martial festivities. The piece runs about nine minutes, set in a three-part form, a sustained middle section with chorale between the martial but dancelike outer passages.... Hagen engages in some fairly complicated polytonal harmonic procedures, but while his melodies aren't always tonally contoured, a liking for small melodic intervals and quasitonal cadences join a mid-century conservatism with the very American rhythmic vitality that runs through all of these pieces.

— Robert Kirzinger, Fanfare MagazineSeptember / October, 1999

Sennets, Cortege and Tuckets is a cheery work full of trumpet flourishes and a degree of minimalism to it. Amid the musical proceedings is an Ives-like amalgam of ideas, which include allusions to Erik Satie, Scott Joplin, and Leonard Bernstein.

Tower Records Online1999

A page from the original sketches for the work.