NOTES ON THE NOBLE SNARE
by Sylvia Smith
When Stuart received his Noble and Cooley snare drum for his endorsement, I was so taken by its rich sound, I got the idea of "elevating" the snare drum to the level of a solo concert instrument. Why not ask a number of composers to write for solo snare drum and publish them in a collection-- a collection of real compositions for snare drum, not etudes. (The idea then was a single volume of perhaps 12 or 15 solos. )
At the same time I wanted to recommend the excellent Noble and Cooley drum. In exchange for the photo of the drum on the front cover and the title that suggests their company name, the Noble and Cooley Drum Co. assisted me with funding the publication.
I asked Stuart to edit the series. He thought the idea wouldn't work--that composers would not want to write for snare drum. Instead, we got such an enthusiastic response that it quickly expanded into two volumes with plans for two more. The title "The Noble Snare" was Stuart's idea.
The pieces were all distinct and individualistic. No two were even similar. I wanted the look of the notation to express their distinctiveness and so I hired a different copyist for each piece; some were left in the composer's own hand. I did not want to give the series that "method book" look. I made no attempt to grade them as to level of difficulty or style.
"Fragments II" by Jean-Charles François was written for the Noble Snare series, too. I had to print it separately, however, because he far exceeded my guidelines of 2 - 8 pages. But this composition really belongs to the collection.
As the first two volumes were being prepared for printing, I thought of doing a solo snare drum concert, partly as a kind of test--could one and a half hours of snare drum music work as a program? Tom Goldstein of Gageego in New York was intrigued by the idea. And so the publication itself inspired a concert with a new concept.
The National Public Radio interview was with all three of us --myself as publisher, Stuart as editor, Tom as concert producer. For reasons I do not know, Tom's and my comments were edited out of the interview for broadcast on NPR.