Full Fathom Five

SKU: ariel_ful_cs0060_ful_fs0061 Category:

full fathom five

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.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them, – ding dong bell.
  1. Andante – Allegro moderato
  2. Andante con moto
  3. Allegro

All the musical ideas for this brass quintet derive from my setting of Ariel’s song “Full Fathom Five’ originally composed for the 1978 Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Tempest.

The piece begins with a brief hint of the melody on solo horn and first trumpet, which leads to a tightly argued, slightly jazzy Allegro in seven-eight time. The second movement is more serious, and develops the song’s melody and the implication of the lyric, with its images of death, drowning and the tolling of lugubrious bells. The finale, which uses small elements of the melody both as ostinati and thematic material, is developed in rondo form, climaxing with a broad chorale-like treatment of the tune.

The work is affectionately dedicated to Fine Arts Brass, which commissioned the work with funds provided by West Midlands Arts and gave the first performance at the Malvern Festival on 25th May 1987.

Full Fathom Five


Guy Woolfenden


8 minutes

Date of publication


  • 979-0-57009-417-2 [Complete set]
  • 979-0-57009-418-9 [Full score]
No. of Pages in Score



Brass Quintet

Full instrumentation
Full instrumentation 2 Trumpets in B flat
Horn in F

Press & Public Reviews

The material used for this quintet, written for the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, is derived from music by the composer for a production of The Tempest by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The three movements – a three-bar Andante into an Allegro moderato, an Andante con moto and an Allegro finale –are quite short, interesting and not over-difficult. To create a really convincing performance much attention should be paid to the well-graded dynamic marks. The work is timed for eight minutes and is a welcome addition to the quintet repertoire.


Winds Magazine, Autumn 1994

Your thoughts...

Tell us what you think of “Full Fathom Five”

Full Fathom Five

I. Andante - Allegro moderato
II. Andante con moto
III. Allegro