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date: 17 August 2019

Sennet [senet, sonnet, sennit, sennate, sinet, synnet, cynet]locked

  • Edward H. Tarr
  •  and Peter Downey


[senet, sonnet, sennit, sennate, sinet, synnet, cynet]

English term used during the 16th century and early 17th to indicate a monophonic trumpet signal. Sennet is synonymous with a number of contemporaneous terms found in continental Europe: ‘sersseneda’ in Denmark, ‘Serosonet’ in Germany, and ‘sarasinetta’ in Italy. These were probably derived from an Italian compound noun which combined ‘ser[en]o’ with ‘sonata’, meaning a piece of instrumental music associated with the greatest nobility. Markham (1639) included the ‘Senet for State’ among a number of signals ‘that have reference to the greatest Officers’; stage directions of late Elizabethan and Jacobean plays (documented from 1584 to 1619 and even later) associated the sounding of the sennet with the ceremonial entrance or exit of actors taking the roles of great lords; and Shakespeare reserved the signal for kings, heirs to the throne, emperors and great leaders.

Cesare Bendinelli included two sennets in his Tutta l’arte della trombetta (1614) (...

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