The Noble Snare: A Collection of Works Exposing and Progressing the Performance Capabilities of the Unaccompanied Snare Drum
Armbruster, Curt Joseph
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The Noble Snare is a collection of solos for unaccompanied snare drum that were commissioned and edited by Sylvia Smith, editor and owner of Smith Publications. Smith Publications is a publishing house that specializes in 20th century American music, with a particular emphasis on music for percussion. Smith released four volumes of solo compositions for the snare drum: Volume I (1988), Volume II (1988), Volume III (1990) and Volume IV (1990). When completed, the collection considerably advanced the size and quality of the genre of the snare drum solo. The solos that emerged from the commissioning project reflect a great deal of experimentation and creativity from leading classical composers. In a few short years the project literally created a repertoire for an important instrument that had received relatively little attention up to that point in the history of music. Upon initiating this project, Smith’s stated goal was to create a collection of significant pieces that would “elevate the snare drum to the status of a solo concert instrument.” Smith had two criteria for choosing composers for the collection: composers who could bring a new perspective to the snare drum as a serious solo concert instrument and composers who could contribute to the project through stylistic diversity. In 2014, a second edition of the complete collection was published. At that time, Smith says that a new printing order of the collection was imminent; and since there would be a new printing, she decided it would be nice to “get some new blood” in the collection. The new edition includes the addition of ten new solos and the removal of eight solos from the original edition. This performance dissertation consists of three recitals comprised entirely of snare drum solos drawn from the second edition of The Noble Snare series. The goal of this project is to display the diversity of experimentation and approach to snare drum composition that was revealed by The Noble Snare through the work of its participating composers. It is my hope that this dissertation will demonstrate the importance of this collection of solos both from a historical perspective and for the creation of a repertoire for this instrument.