A Minute of News (1990) by Eugene Novotney

From Volume 4 of Stuart Saunders Smith’s “The Noble Snare” collection.

Players: 1

Instrumentation: Snare Drum

Duration: 2 minutes

Program Note:

While on a trip to Mexico, composer Eugene Novotney came across a local band and noticed the drummer “carrying an old beat-up snare drum over his shoulder that just looked awful…” He stopped to watch the drummer, who proceeded to turn his broken drum and mismatched sticks into an entire trap-set.

The unknown drummer was the inspiration for A Minute of News, which requires the soloist to produce many different sound effects, imitating those of the Mexican drummer. The performer rarely uses matching sticks, and is even asked to rhythmically engage and disengage the snares, all while performing a mixture of Brazilian and Afro-Cuban grooves. – Christine Augspurger

“It was that moment delivered by that drummer that inspired my composition…In essence, he read me the news that very day! That drummer, whom I had discounted before hearing because of his poor equipment, taught me a great lesson about the connection between poverty and creativity…I will never forget that unknown drummer who put on such a show for me that one day.” – Eugene Novotney