How To Coax Seven Sounds From One Cymbal

Drummers are conditioned to believe that one must buy a wide array of cymbals in various sizes, alloys, and shapes in order to develop an extensive palette of cymbal sounds. And while we certainly don’t want to discourage anybody from experimenting with cymbals of various types, it’s equally important to know how to make the most out the cymbals that are already in your setup.

Don’t bother writing in to harass us. We already know that one can coax out of a cymbal more than the seven sounds represented in this column, especially when you factor in the various types of sticks, brushes, and mallets on the market. Instead, we have presented sounds that can be easily produced with a pair of sticks while in the middle of a performance. These are our ideas. Please drop us a line if you can come up with any more, and we might just publish them in an upcoming issue.

Cymbal

Fig. 1. Tip Ride. Perhaps the most common technique involves riding the stick tip on the taper of the cymbal, approximately halfway between the outer edge and the bell. It’s most effective to allow the stick to bounce back immediately after each note to avoid choking the sound. The result is a mellow ping that is perfect for ride patterns.

Cymbal

Fig. 2. Edge Crash. Typically used for explosive accents, this method employs the shoulder of the stick to crash into the outer edge of the cymbal. Navigate the stick so that it either crashes downward into the cymbal or glances across the edge, and allow the cymbal to wobble freely for optimum sustain.

Cymbal

Fig. 3. Bell Ring. Lay the shoulder or butt-end of the stick into the bell at the center of the cymbal, and like riding, bring the stick up from the bell immediately after each stroke. Predictably, the result is a cowbell-like tone that is perfect for accents or power riding.

{pagebreak} Cymbal

Fig. 4. Edge Ping. Hold the stick an inch away from the tip so that most of it dangles below your pinky. Strike the edge of the cymbal with the gripping section of the stick, just above the butt-end. This creates another type of bell sound that is much more focused and delicate than Fig. 3.

Cymbal

Fig. 5. Lathe Scrape. Hold the stick so that the butt-end touches the cymbal just below the bell, then scrape the butt down toward the edge, while letting the cymbal resonate. This will create a sharp sweeping sound that is great for occasional effects.

Cymbal

Fig. 6. Crescendo. Using the shoulder of both sticks, play a soft roll on the cymbal edge that builds up in volume. Stop rolling and pull away the sticks when the volume reaches its peak, allowing the sound to gradually diminish. Use this effect to create ambience during atmospheric passages.

Cymbal

Fig. 7. Cymbal Choke. Crash the cymbal as you would in Ex. 2, and then immediately grab the edge. This creates a sharp accent that is even more percussive when played in tandem with a bass drum hit.