From country to bop, from free jazz to marching band, the cymbal is one instrument that transcends categorization, and is present in almost every style of music that is being played today. Drumset players use cymbals to keep time, modern composers use cymbals to add aural colors to the pictures their music creates. Belly dancers use cymbals to accentuate their body movements, and buddhists monks use them as a meditation aid. The applications of cymbals are without limit. There are several different types of cymbals available, most of which are geared toward drumset players. There are also cymbals designed especially for orchestral percussionists, but most people find that a great sounding cymbal can be used in a variety of musical situations. Cymbals range in diameter from 2" finger cymbals to 60" or bigger gongs.
COMMON CYMBAL TERMS
Bell: The bell of the cymbal is also referred to as the dome or the cup. When struck, the bell produces a clear, higher pitch than the rest of the cymbal.
Chick: The sound produced by hi-hats when closed by the foot.
Dry: When struck, dry cymbals produce a lot of ping, and very few overtones.
Ping: The sound produced when striking the ride cymbal with a stick. Also referred to as attack and stick definition.
Sustain: Refers to how long a cymbal will produce sound after being struck.
Wash: Refers to the amount of overtones a cymbal will produce after being struck. A dry cymbal is the opposite of a washy cymbal.
TYPES OF CYMBALS
|Ride Cymbals: The ride cymbal is the cymbal most drumset players use as a timekeeper. They typically range in sizes from 18" to 22", although 24" rides aren't entirely uncommon. Ride cymbals are generally the heaviest cymbal in a typical cymbal setup, and like other cymbals, are named for the tonal characteristics they possess.|
|Crash Cymbals: Crash cymbals are used by most players to do exactly what they sound like, which is crash. They range is size from 13" to 20", and are available in a variety of thicknesses and weights. Crash cymbals are used by both drumset players and orchestral percussionists alike.|
|Splash Cymbals: Splash cymbals are smaller, thinner crash cymbals, known for their fast attack, and quick decay. They range in size from 6" to 12".|
|Hi-Hats: Like the ride cymbal, hi-hats are mostly used by drumset players to keep time. They range in size from 10" to 15", and are made up of a pair of cymbals. The bottom cymbal is usually thicker and heavier than the top cymbal, and many companies offer hi-hat sets with a different top and bottom cymbal.|
|Chinese Cymbals: Chinese cymbals are basically an inverted crash cymbal with a flanged edge. They have a unique gong-like sound, and range in size from 12" to 20".|
|Hand Cymbals: Hand cymbals generally come in pairs, and are held in the hands by leather straps. They are used by percussionists who perform in orchestras, marching bands, school bands, etc. Most hand cymbals are 14" to 20" in diameter.|