digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















2006-07-06 Crash Zildjian 14.jpg
Percussion instrument
Classification Percussion
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 111.142 if played in pairs, or 111.242 if played with a hand or beater
(Concussion or percussion vessels)
Related instruments
Crotales are sometimes called cymbales anciens
Characteristic rock hi-hat pattern. About this sound play 

Cymbals are a common percussion instrument. Cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys; see cymbal making for a discussion of their manufacture. The majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient designs sound a definite note (see: crotales). Cymbals are used in many ensembles ranging from the orchestra, percussion ensembles, jazz bands, heavy metal bands, and marching groups. Drum kits usually incorporate at least a crash, ride or crash/ride, and a pair of hi-hat cymbals.


A pair of bronze cymbals from the Chinese Jin Dynasty (1115–1234)

The word cymbal is derived from the Latin cymbalum, which is the latinisation of the Greek word κύμβαλον (kumbalon), "cymbal",[1] which in turn derives from κύμβος (kumbos), "cup".[2]


The anatomy of the cymbal plays a large part in the sound it creates. [3] A hole is drilled in the center of the cymbal and it is used to either mount the cymbal on a stand or straps (for hand playing). The bell, dome, or cup is the raised section immediately surrounding the hole. The bell produces a higher "pinging" pitch than the rest of the cymbal. The bow is the rest of the surface surrounding the bell. The bow is sometimes described in two areas: the ride and crash area. The ride area is the thicker section closer to the bell while the crash area is the thinner tapering section near the edge. The edge or rim is the immediate circumference of the cymbal.

Cymbals are measured by their diameter often in inches or centimeters. The size of the cymbal affects its sound, larger cymbals usually being louder and having longer sustain. The weight describes how thick the cymbal is. Cymbal weights are important to the sound they produce and how they play. Heavier cymbals have a louder volume, more cut, and better stick articulation (when using drum sticks). Thin cymbals have a fuller sound, lower pitch, and faster response.

The profile of the cymbal is the vertical distance of the bow from the bottom of the bell to the cymbal edge (higher profile cymbals are more bowl shaped). The profile affects the pitch of the cymbal: higher profile cymbals have higher pitch.


Orchestral cymbals[edit]

Cymbals offer a composer nearly endless amounts of color and effect. Their unique timbre allows them to project even against a full orchestra and through the heaviest of orchestrations and enhance articulation and nearly any dynamic. Cymbals have been utilized historically to suggest frenzy, fury or bacchanalian revels, as seen in the Venus music in Wagner's Tannhäuser, Grieg's Peer Gynt suite, and Osmin's aria "O wie will ich triumphieren" from Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

Clash cymbals[edit]

A pair of clash cymbals in cross section. The bell is in green and the straps are in red.
Main article: clash cymbals

Orchestral clash cymbals are traditionally used in pairs, each one having a strap set in the bell of the cymbal by which they are held. Such a pair is also known as crash cymbals or plates.

The sound can be obtained by rubbing their edges together in a sliding movement for a "sizzle", striking them against each other in what is called a "clash", tapping the edge of one against the body of the other in what is called a "tap-clash", scraping the edge of one from the inside of the bell to the edge for a "scrape" or "zischen," or shutting the cymbals together and choking the sound in what is called a "hi-hat chick" or crush. A skilled player can obtain an enormous dynamic range from such a pair of cymbals. For example, in Beethoven's ninth symphony, the percussionist is employed to first play cymbals at pianissimo, adding a touch of colour rather than loud clash.

Chinese-style clash cymbals in use

Clash cymbals are usually damped by pressing them against the player's body. A composer may write laissez vibrer, "Let vibrate" (usually abbreviated l.v.), secco (dry), or equivalent indications on the score; more usually, the player must judge exactly when to damp the cymbals based on the written duration of clash and the context in which it occurs.

Clash cymbals have traditionally been accompanied by the bass drum playing an identical part. This combination, played loudly, is an effective way to accentuate a note since the two instruments together contribute to both very low and very high frequency ranges and provide a satisfying "clash-bang-wallop". In older music the composer sometimes provided just one part for this pair of instruments, writing senza piatti or piatti soli (Italian: "without cymbals" or "cymbals only") if the bass drum is to remain silent. This came from the common practice of only having one percussionist play both instruments, using one cymbal mounted to the shell of the bass drum itself. The player would clash the cymbals with his left hand and use a mallet to strike the bass drum in his right. This method is often employed today in pit orchestras and is called for specifically by composers who desire a certain effect. Stravinsky calls for this in his ballet Petrushka and Mahler calls for this in his Titan Symphony.

The modern convention is for the instruments to have independent parts. However in kit drumming, a cymbal crash is still most often accompanied by a simultaneous kick to the bass drum, which provides both a musical effect and a support to the crash stroke.

Hi hats[edit]

Main article: hi-hat

Crash cymbals evolved into the low-sock and from this to the modern hi-hat. Even in a modern drum kit, they remain paired with the bass drum as the two instruments which are played with the player's feet. However, hi-hat cymbals tend to be heavy with little taper, more similar to a ride cymbal than to a clash cymbal as found in a drum kit, and perform a ride rather than a clash function.

Suspended cymbal[edit]

Another use of cymbals is the suspended cymbal. This instrument takes its name from the traditional method of suspending the cymbal by means of a leather strap or rope, thus allowing the cymbal to vibrate as freely as possible for maximum musical effect. Early jazz drumming pioneers borrowed this style of cymbal mounting during the early 1900s and later drummers further developed this instrument into the mounted horizontal or nearly horizontally mounted "crash" cymbals of a modern drum kit, However, most modern drum kits do not employ a leather strap suspension system. Many modern drum kits use a mount with felt or otherwise dampening fabric to act as a barrier to hold the cymbals between metal clamps: thus forming the modern day ride cymbal.

Suspended cymbals can be played with yarn, sponge or cord wrapped mallets. The first known instance of using a sponge-headed mallet on a cymbal is the final chord of Hector Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique. Composers sometimes specifically request other types of mallets like felt mallets or timpani beaters for different attack and sustain qualities.

Suspended cymbals can produce bright and slicing tones when forcefully struck, and give an eerie transparent "windy" sound when played quietly. A tremolo, or roll (played with two mallets alternately striking on opposing sides of the cymbal) can build in volume from almost inaudible to an overwhelming climax in a satisfyingly smooth manner (as in Humperdink's Mother Goose Suite).

The edge of a suspended cymbal may be hit with shoulder of a drum stick to obtain a sound somewhat akin to that of a pair of clash cymbals. Other methods of playing include scraping a coin or a triangle beater rapidly across the ridges on the top of the cymbal, giving a "zing" sound (as some players do in the fourth movement of Dvořák's Symphony No. 9). Other effects that can be used include drawing a cello or bass bow across the edge of the cymbal for a sound not unlike squealing car brakes.

Ancient cymbals[edit]

Ancient cymbals or tuned cymbals are much more rarely called for. Their timbre is entirely different, more like that of small hand-bells or of the notes of the keyed harmonica. They are not struck full against each other, but by one of their edges, and the note given in by them is higher in proportion as they are thicker and smaller. Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet calls for two pairs of cymbals, modelled on some old Pompeian instruments no larger than the hand (some are no larger than a crown piece), and tuned to F and B flat. The modern instruments descended from this line are the crotales.

List of cymbal types[edit]

Hi-hats. The clutch suspends the top cymbal on a rod operated by a foot pedal.

Cymbal types include:

See also[edit]


Main article: Cymbal manufacturers
See also Category:Cymbal manufacturing companies.


  1. ^ κύμβαλον, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 1940, on Perseus Digital Library
  2. ^ κύμβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 1940, on Perseus Digital Library
  3. ^ Sabian.com education, Anatomy page http://sabian.com/EN/education/cymbal_anatomy.cfm

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbal — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
311984 videos foundNext > 

Watch what this kid does when his cymbal breaks

Watch this kid recover big after his cymbal breaks during the national anthem! CNN's Jeanne Moos reports. For more CNN videos, visit our site at http://www.c...

Sabian Cymbal Vote 2014. (Dano Šoltis)

Sabian artist Dano Šoltis plays Cymbal Vote 2014 - HHX Smoky Ride 21" - AAX Tremor 19" - AA Sick Hats 18" - B8 Pro Assault Hats 12" - B8 Pro Aero Crash 16" -...

Zildjian Cymbal Sound Test/Demo - NEW A Series - K Custom Hybrid

I'm extremely honored to announce that I am now an artist and a part of the incredible Zildjian team! Read more below and check out my artist profile here: h...

The Cymbal Song by Gavin Harrison

I hope you enjoy it...and don't forget to join me here https://www.facebook.com/drummergavinharrison This is part of the Rhythmic Horizons DVD available via ...

Vibration. See the unseen: Cymbal at 1,000 frames per second.

www.fluke.com/vibrations Explore the world of vibration at 1000 frames per second. Like what you see? Check out our See the Unseen compilation at http://you...

Terry Bozzio's All Cymbal Drum Set

Drum Set Basics : Different Cymbal Sounds of a Drum Set

Three main cymbal types exist, including the crash cymbal and broad cymbal, and each makes a different sound. Learn more from our expert drummer and instruct...

Star Spangled Banner Cymbal Fail -- 2013.05.18 EJH Red & White Concert

Zildjian Sound Lab - Cymbal Comparison Video - Full Version

Russ Miller plays through full set-ups of all the Zildjian families. From K Constantinople to ZBT and every line in between. This version has full 45 second ...

The Cymbal Project™ - Part 13 - Refinishing Three Sabian Cymbals - how to fix a cracked cymbal

http://www.LanceCampeau.com I was given a box of 45 cymbals.... watch as I bring them back to life again... Lance Campeau Custom cymbal repair refinishing sa...

311984 videos foundNext > 

340 news items

PR Web (press release)
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:15:00 -0700

“Meinl is one of the 'big four' cymbal manufacturers in the world, and their well-regarded, high quality percussion instruments make them even more unique.” Appearing at the event and presenting an interactive workshop at 5:30pm will be extreme metal ...

Consequence of Sound

Consequence of Sound
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:56:15 -0700

The most exciting production on the disc comes on “Kill Switch”, which builds off of what could be the screaming of fireworks shooting into the sky, backed by lux synth stabs and rattling, tinny cymbal. Other than the fact that Mikey sits on top of ...
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:45:00 -0700

The snare hits and cymbal crashes are clear to the ear, while the rest – guitar and vocals – are partially clean, and partially distorted – depending on the song. All twelve tunes also remain on the fairly short side, which helps to keep the listener ...
DailyPost Nigeria
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:38:36 -0700

He said, ”If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but ...
Waterloo Record
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:33:45 -0700

"Between the two of us, we play the fiddle, mandolin, guitar, tuba, trumpet or coronet, high hat (cymbal), tambourine, harmonica and we both sing," said Ryan Baer who, along with his equally energetic fellow musician Dave Neigh, created the duo known ...


Sat, 26 Jul 2014 09:48:59 -0700

... well, THEY NAMED THEMSELVES POWER BOTTOM." KATHLEEN RICHARDS: "I'm going to see Cymbals (2:15 pm, Main Stage), even though I was initially disappointed to discover that this is not a band made up of all-cymbal-playing players (cymbalists?) ...


Sat, 26 Jul 2014 05:56:15 -0700

The ripping sound mutes the mishmash of noise that had, until then, blanketed us. In an instant, the place is gripped in paralyzing terror, the crowd seized in suspended motion, the hands of time, momentarily fractured. Then we hear a cymbal of glass ...
Wilkes Barre Times-Leader
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 06:18:43 -0700

Gerlin was joined by Alexander Higgins, Lake-Lehman Director of Bands and Visual Consultant; Pete ReHill, Drill Designer; Chris DeRemer, Battery Instructor; Mike Nederhood, Front Ensemble Instructor; Ben McEntee, Cymbal Instructor; Doug Piazza, Visual ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Cymbal

You can talk about Cymbal with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!