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The Cymbal's Place in a Drum Set

     Bill Kreutzman, the drummer from the Grateful Dead, once remarked that the drum kit isn't just one instrument, but a collection of individual instruments. Drummers must learn to appreciate the sound and technique of each to be a serious drummer. This aspect of drumming is underappreciated. This article will focus on the cymbal.

The cymbal is an ancient aspect of percussion. The Greeks used them thousands of years ago, and ancient Persians, modern day Iran, were and are great creators of cymbals. Turkey also produces high quality cymbals. Some of the best and most popular cymbals today are made by Zildjian and Sabian.

Cymbals consist of various kinds of metal alloys which form a circle with round ridges at even intervals going from the rim to the centre. Cymbals are used in lots of music, from classical, to rock and heavy metal, to jazz, and many kinds in between, and they are used in different ways. In older forms you can see someone holding a cymbal in each hand and crashing them together. Suitably, these are called crash cymbals. Jazz players were among the first to mount them so as to allow each cymbal to ring out after each strike. This is preserved in the modern day drum kit, but at the time suspending the cymbal was a novel approach to this ancient instrument. The cymbal produces a very different kind of note if struck near the middle, by the bell, than if you hit along the outside of it. Hitting the bell is a key aspect of what is known as ride patterns. This is used in music that requires the high pitched sound this produces.

The hi-hat deserves special attention since it features in the most kinds of music. This is essentially two cymbals placed one on top of the other. A foot pedal controls how close or far apart the cymbals are, so you can activate them with your foot or with your hands by hitting with your drumsticks. By stepping off the pedal the cymbals separate to their original distance. Usually these two are used in conjunction, as the first hit is with the hands but the feet are used to silence them and stop it from ringing out. This is the cornerstone of many beats in different kinds of music from funk, rock, reggae, and still others. The varieties of beats you can get from the kick, snare, and hi-hat are virtually endless.

In some professional kits you'll see a massive array of cymbals almost forming a fortress around the drummer. This is their indulgence after years of playing with a smaller kit! It is not necessary. Most basic kits will have a couple ride cymbals and a hi-hat, and it's essential to get the basics down before adding supplementary cymbals to your kit. Remember, you can get infinite sounds and rhythms from the basic set up, so before adding too much too soon you'll be more than busy with the basic cymbals.

Long & McQuade is one of Canada's biggest online music stores and offers a wide selection of guitars, Fender bass, acoustic guitars and accessories.

Long & McQuade is one of Canada's biggest online music stores and offers a wide selection of guitars, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, guitar amps and accessories.

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Long & McQuade is one of Canada's biggest online music stores and offers a wide selection of guitars, Fender bass, acoustic guitars and accessories.

Posted on 2012-10-30, By: *

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Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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