They shine and gleam, whether metallic, glossy, matte or grungy, beckoning the novice and professional drummer to sit and sample the sound of a simple, yet complex, round of metal goodness that can inspire the rhythmic charms only a cymbal can. These signature beacons of drumming excellence bring a mystery to a drum kit, providing unique variances and tones that are described as anything from mellow and sensitive, to dark, cutting or symphonic. A cymbal is more than the accent to a fill or solo, but can establish the entire mood and theme of a song through variants of sound and tone.
Playing the cymbals in a drum set requires more than rhythmic tapping with a drum stick. The sound desired from the cymbals is a complex combination of the construction of the cymbal itself, the stick, brush or mallet used to play it and the technique of the drummer. With the varieties of cymbals, sticks and accents available, an endless repertoire of sounds can be produced during any set or performance. For instance, the sound of a Meinl Mb8 cymbal is not only constructed to appease shiny visual requirements of the drummer, but is also known for its crisp sound, while the Byaznce Dark Splash is noted for its dark, earthy sound and appearance.
Striking the cymbal itself is a skill to master, and the right angle used to play the cymbal can make a big difference in the quality of the sound and the effervescence produced. In terms of angles, when playing a cymbal, it should be as flat as possible on its stand to help the drummer hit the instrument in the recommended manner needed to produce its best quality sound. Also, a cymbal should never be tightened on its stand too tightly, as the ability to vibrate properly can be affected by the amount of tension applied from the nuts and stand.
While sturdy, cymbals are still susceptible to damage and wear though the process of playing, moving and setting up the drum kit. Even the oils from handling cymbals can affect the sound produced over time. Cymbals are instruments, much like drums, guitars or pianos, and the proper methods of care, transport and maintenance are needed in order to keep the cymbals playing for years to come.