How Cymbals Impact a Drum Kit

How Cymbals Impact a Drum Kit

When you get a drum kit, you get drums, cymbals, and sometimes various other percussion instruments like the cowbell, wood blocks, chimes, or tambourines. The set is set up in a way that a single drummer can play them all without the help of anyone else. When you look at a typical cymbal, you will notice a bell, a bow, and an edge or rim.

Cymbals are the most common non-drum percussion instrument. The cymbals produced today to done sound a definite note, however the small cup shaped cymbals which resemble those of ancient times do have a particular pitch. Cymbals are a metal instrument constructed out of various alloys.

Not only do you hear cymbals in rock and roll music. They are also common parts of modern orchestras, military bands, concert bands, marching bands, and a variety of other bands. Even though cymbals became a part of drum kits later then many of the other non-drum percussion instrument mentioned above, you can usually find even a basic drum kit equipped with either a suspended cymbal or a pair of hi-hat cymbals. You can’t beat the role a cymbal plays in a drum kit.

Two large, concave brass plate usually make up the typical cymbal. Many times cymbals come with leather hand straps. They are designed in a way that when they are hit together, it is not the interior that touches, but the outside edges. While cymbals go untuned, they are used in a variety of ways to produce a large variety of sounds.

You can find cymbals in a variety of sizes and shapes. You can find them small enough to simply play them with your fingers. If you have a cymbal suspended on a string or a stand, you can use a mallet or a drumstick to strike it.

How you plan on using your cymbal as a part of your drum kit will determine what role your cymbals will play. You can find a variety of cymbals in today’s musical world, including: orchestral cymbals, crash cymbals, suspended cymbals, and ancient cymbals.

Let’s first look at orchestral cymbals.

When cymbals are included in a drum kit they are usually used to make odd and surprising sound effects or to add a bit of military color. The penetrating sound made by cymbals can have a dramatic impact in conjunction with an orchestra playing fortissimo. Cymbals are usually used to denote frenzy, fury, or bacchanalian revels.

Now let’s look at crash cymbals.

Many times cymbals that are included in a drum kit are played along with the bass drum in an identical rhythm. In older music, there are times when the composer wrote the music so that this pair of instruments were the only percussion playing. If the bass drum was to stay silent they wrote the musing as senza piatti or piatti soli (which is Italian for without cymbals or cymbals only).

However, in modern music cymbals are meant to have a parts designed specifically for them. When the two parts are played loudly, it will emphasize a note because playing the two instruments together produce a very low and a very high frequency. This produces a rewarding crash-bang-wallop.

Let’s look at the suspended cymbal.

When a suspended cymbal is used as part of a drum kit, it can produce a variety of sounds. If the cymbal is struck hard, it will create a bright and slicing tone. If struck lightly and played quietly, it can make a creepy clear windy sound. You can go from almost inaudible sounds to an tremendous climax if you use a tremolo or a roll. In order to preform this, you need to play the cymbal using a couple of mallets. The mallets need to swap and strike on other sides of the cymbal.

Finally, let’s discus ancient cymbals.

When ancient cymbals are used as part of a drum kit, the effect is dignified. Using these cymbals is very rare in modern music. The quality the produce is completely different from other cymbal styles. The sound resembles that of hand bells or of a keyed harmonica.

Copyright Slash Marshall 2017
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