Clash cymbals

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Clash cymbals
Suworow-Kadetten in Bern 024.jpg
Two sets of clash cymbals in use in a marching band
Percussion instrument
Classification Percussion
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 111.142
(Cymbals: Vessel clappers with everted rim)

Clash cymbals (also called concert cymbals, orchestralcymbals, or crash cymbals) are cymbals played in matched pairs by holding one cymbal in each hand and striking the two together. [1]


Zildjian clash cymbals after a big crash 2010July22-TimKoehlerAB2-crpped-byVernBarber edited-1.jpg
Zildjian clash cymbals after a big crash
Paiste clash cymbals in use in a percussion section US Navy 110518-N-WP746-217 Musician 2nd Class Ed William, assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, plays the cymbals during the joint-service rehea.jpg
Paiste clash cymbals in use in a percussion section

To differentiate this type of cymbal from a suspended cymbal, they are also called hand cymbals. [2]


In musical scores, clash cymbals are normally indicated as cymbals or sometimes simply C.C. If another type of cymbal, for example a suspended cymbal, is required in an orchestral score, then for historical reasons this is often also indicated cymbals. Some composers and arrangers use the plural cymbals or crash cymbals to indicate clash cymbals, with the singular cymbal to indicate a suspended cymbal.

Composers will often condense the clash cymbals and a suspended cymbal into the same part. There are a number of techniques used to indicate which is desired. Whenever with stick or with mallet is written, a suspended cymbal is used. A return to clash cymbals can be specified with the Italian phrase a due . Russian composers developed a notation to differentiate between clash and suspended cymbals in which a + (plus sign) is written over a note to be played on suspended cymbal and a ° (open circle) is written over a note to be played with clash cymbals.


Playing clash cymbals Cymbals (PSF).png
Playing clash cymbals

Classical music

In an orchestral context, the cymbals are held by their straps with the thumb and index finger closest to the bell, not unlike holding a drumstick. The cymbals are held at a forty-five degree angle with the dominant hand holding the cymbal over the other. [3] To crash, there is a brief prep motion in which the arms move away from each other, before finally dropping the dominant handed cymbal on top of the bottom cymbal. Properly played crashes will be played like a flam where the bottom of the cymbals touch before meeting at the top. This is done to prevent any air pockets from occurring. [4]

There are several ways to hold the cymbals after the crash. Some practitioners hold the cymbals up and vertically with the inside of the cymbal facing the audience. This actually shortens the sustain as the sound is transferred up rather than out and causes the hands to be in contact with the cymbal. Other practitioners hold the cymbals parallel to the floor. This allows for the most sound to reach the audience as the sound is transferred horizontally. [5]

Marching arts

In a marching ensemble, such as a drum corps or marching band, cymbals will often be marched as part of the drumline. The technique of marching cymbals is vastly different from that of orchestral cymbals. Typically, marching cymbalist employ a technique known as "Garfield grip" (named after its use by the Garfield Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps) in which the hand is placed through the straps and twisted to let the palm rest on top of the bell. This technique allows for greater control over the instrument and for movements known as "visuals" – flashy maneuvers such as flips and twirls. [6]

There has been a trend in recent years to replace the cymbal line with cymbals in the front ensemble, although cymbals still remain a vital instrument in indoor percussion ensembles.


A drum kit normally contains one pair of clash cymbals mounted on a pedal-operated hi-hat stand. These are commonly far smaller and lighter than hand-operated clash cymbals, and are played with drum sticks as well as clashed together using the pedal. The hi-hat arose out of the need for vaudeville pit orchestras to combine the roles of a bass drummer, snare drummer, and cymbalist into one player, eventually forming the modern drum set. [7]


The traditional four-cornered strap knot Aaclashcymbal2.JPG
The traditional four-cornered strap knot

Clash cymbals come in matched pairs. They are commonly found in three weights: [8]

Instruments in all weights range in size from 14" to 22" diameter. The smallest and thickest tend to have the higher pitch, the thinner ones allow for greater expression, and the largest, the greatest volume.


Playing Chinese clash cymbals Chinese New Year Seattle 2007 - 25.jpg
Playing Chinese clash cymbals

Orchestral and most band clash cymbals have leather straps passed through the holes in their bells, leading to four tails which are knotted inside the bell, to allow the percussionist to hold them. Marching bands in addition use leather pads between the outsides of the bells and the percussionist's hands.

Toy clash cymbals and some others have wooden or plastic handles instead. Chinese clash cymbals need no handles as the squared bells can be held quite securely without them and are often joined by a cord through the holes in their bells which allows the percussionist to release the bells after striking, producing less damping and greater sustain, and swing the cymbals producing doppler effects.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cymbal</span> Unpitched percussion instrument

A cymbal is a common percussion instrument. Often used in pairs, cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys. The majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient designs sound a definite note. 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 player of cymbals is known as a cymbalist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Drum kit</span> Musical instrument

A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals, and other auxiliary percussion instruments set up to be played by one person. The player (drummer) typically holds a pair of matching drumsticks, one in each hand, and uses their feet to operate a foot-controlled hi-hat and bass drum pedal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hi-hat</span> Percussion instrument

A hi-hat is a combination of two cymbals and a pedal, all mounted on a metal stand. It is a part of the standard drum kit used by drummers in many styles of music including rock, pop, jazz, and blues. Hi-hats consist of a matching pair of small to medium-sized cymbals mounted on a stand, with the two cymbals facing each other. The bottom cymbal is fixed and the top is mounted on a rod which moves the top cymbal toward the bottom one when the pedal is depressed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Percussion instrument</span> Type of musical instrument that produces a sound by being hit

A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles struck, scraped or rubbed by hand or struck against another similar instrument. Excluding zoomusicological instruments and the human voice, the percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments. In spite of being a very common term to designate instruments, and to relate them to their players, the percussionists, percussion is not a systematic classificatory category of instruments, as described by the scientific field of organology. It is shown below that percussion instruments may belong to the organological classes of ideophone, membranophone, aerophone and cordophone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Drummer</span> Percussionist who creates and accompanies music using drums

A drummer is a percussionist who creates music using drums.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bass drum</span> Drum, produces a note of low definite or indefinite pitch

The bass drum is a large drum that produces a note of low definite or indefinite pitch. The instrument is typically cylindrical, with the drum's diameter much greater than the drum's depth, with a struck head at both ends of the cylinder. The heads may be made of calfskin or plastic and there is normally a means of adjusting the tension either by threaded taps or by strings. Bass drums are built in a variety of sizes, but size does not dictate the volume produced by the drum. The pitch and the sound can vary much with different sizes, but the size is also chosen based on convenience and aesthetics. Bass drums are percussion instruments and vary in size and are used in several musical genres. Three major types of bass drums can be distinguished.

A crash cymbal is a type of cymbal that produces a loud, sharp "crash" and is used mainly for occasional accents, as opposed to a ride cymbal. It can be mounted on a stand and played with a drum stick, or by hand in pairs. One or two crash cymbals are a standard part of a drum kit. Suspended crash cymbals are also used in bands and orchestras, either played with a drumstick or rolled with a pair of mallets to produce a slower, swelling crash. Sometimes a drummer may hit two different crash cymbals in a kit at the same time to produce a very loud accent, usually in rock music.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glockenspiel</span> Mallet percussion instrument

The glockenspiel or bells is a percussion instrument consisting of pitched aluminum or steel bars arranged in a keyboard layout. This makes the glockenspiel a type of metallophone, similar to the vibraphone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gong</span> Musical percussion instrument

A gong is a percussion instrument originating in East Asia and Southeast Asia. Gongs are a flat, circular metal disc that is typically struck with a mallet. They can be small or large in size, and tuned or can require tuning.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">China cymbal</span> Type of crash cymbal

In western music, a China cymbal is a distinct type of crash cymbals designed to produce a bright, crisp, and explosive tone. It is for this reason that they have been nicknamed "trash cymbals". The name "China cymbal" comes from their shape, which is similar to the Chinese Bo. They are most frequently mounted upside down on cymbal stands, allowing for them to be more easily struck and for a better sound.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zill</span> Small metallic cymbals

Zills or zils, also called finger cymbals, are small metallic cymbals used in belly dancing and similar performances. They are called sāgāt in Egypt. They are similar to Tibetan tingsha bells. In Western music, several pairs can be set in a frame to make a tambourine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Suspended cymbal</span> Unpitched percussion instrument

A suspended cymbal is any single cymbal played with a stick or beater rather than struck against another cymbal. Common abbreviations used are "sus. cym.," or "sus. cymb.".

A rimshot is a percussion technique used to produce an accented snare drum backbeat. The sound is produced by simultaneously hitting the rim and head of a drum with a drum stick.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marching percussion</span> Percussion instruments in a drumline

Marching percussion instruments are instruments specially designed to be played while moving. This is achieved by attaching the drum(s) to a special harness worn by the drummer, although not all marching bands use such harnesses and instead use traditional baldrics to sling their drums.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zendrum</span>

A Zendrum is a hand-crafted MIDI controller that is used as a percussion instrument. The Zendrum was influenced by the "Drumitar," invented by Future Man. There are several Zendrum models that are well-suited for live performances: the Z1, ZX, EXP, ZAP series, LT and the Mallet Pro series and Melodic Finger. The Zendrum ZX and Z1 can be worn like a guitar and consists of a triangular hardwood body with 24 touch-sensitive round MIDI triggers. The EXP has 29 triggers and additional controls. The Zendrum LT can also be worn with a guitar strap, and has 25 MIDI triggers in a symmetrical layout, which provides an ambidextrous playing surface. The ZAP series is designed more for table top use or on a drum stand, with the ZAP1 having 19 triggers, and the ZAP2 having 25 triggers. The triggers are played by tapping or slapping with the fingers or hands. As a controller, the Zendrum does not make any sound by itself. It uses an electronic interface called MIDI to control synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, sound modules, computers or other electronic drum devices that generates the musical and percussive sounds. The Mallet Pro Series is laid out and played like a traditional mallet instrument, like a marimba. The Mallet Pro series has naturally resonating solid walnut bars as triggers.

Orchestral percussion refers to the various percussion instruments used in an orchestral setting. It may also refer to the act of playing such instruments in an orchestral style. Many music schools and conservatories offer training for musicians interested in developing their skills as an orchestral percussionist. Typically, an orchestral percussionist does not specialize in one particular instrument. Although there is no exhaustive list of all instruments that an orchestral percussionist must be able to play, there are particular instruments that are frequently used in orchestral repertoire. This includes timpani, snare drum, bass drum, xylophone, glockenspiel, triangle, and tambourine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cymbal choke</span>

In percussion, cymbal choke is a drum stroke or push which consists of striking a cymbal with a drum stick held in one hand and then immediately grabbing the cymbal with another hand, or more rarely, with the same hand. The cymbal choke produces a burst of sound which is abruptly silenced, which can be used for punctuation or dramatic fortissimo effects. In some modern music, namely heavy metal, it is "often employed to emphasize a particular beat or signal an abrupt conclusion to a passage." Cymbal chokes are used extensively by classical percussionists to muffle the sound of a cymbal in accordance with the composer's notation, or in an attempt to match the sustain of other instruments in the ensemble. "The effect, a sudden burst of sound, is [often] further strengthened by a single, simultaneous kick with the bass drum."

For 'choke' cymbal, strike the suspended cymbal with the tip of a wood stick and dampen the sound immediately after the duration of the note.

[In] ragtime [1890-1920]...a lot of time there would be a crash cymbal, or a choke cymbal as they called it, that was usually played with a mallet. They would strike the cymbal with one hand and choke it with the other hand. And there were different techniques for choking the cymbals. Sometimes, they would really cut the cymbal and make it real staccato...Or they would play other styles where they would let the cymbal ring a little bit and sustain itself, and then catch it.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Percussion section</span> One of the main divisions of an orchestra

The percussion section is one of the main divisions of the orchestra and the concert band. It includes most percussion instruments and all unpitched instruments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cymbal stand</span>

A cymbal stand is a stand designed primarily to support a suspended cymbal in a drum kit or percussion section.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grip (percussion)</span>

In percussion, grip refers to the manner in which the player holds the percussion mallet or mallets, whether drum sticks or other mallets.


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