Suspended Cymbal: Hanging Harmonies in Percussive Music

A suspended cymbal, also known as a hanging cymbal, is a type of percussion instrument that is commonly used in orchestral and contemporary music compositions. It is made of a thin metal disc with a small hole in the center, which is suspended by a strap or a stand. When struck, the cymbal produces a shimmering and sustained sound that adds a unique element to any musical piece.

In percussive music, the suspended cymbal is used to create different sound effects and moods. It can be played with a soft and delicate touch or with a strong and forceful hit, depending on the desired effect of the music. This versatility makes it a popular choice among composers and percussionists for adding texture and depth to their compositions.

Genres of music that commonly use suspended cymbals include classical, jazz, rock, and world music. It is often used in orchestral pieces to create dramatic effects, in jazz music to add accents and fill in the spaces between notes, and in rock music to add power and intensity to the rhythm section.

There are various types of suspended cymbals, including orchestral, concert, and hand cymbals. Orchestral cymbals are commonly used in classical music and have a bright and shimmering sound. Concert cymbals are larger and produce a deeper and fuller sound, making them suitable for use in concert bands and marching bands. Hand cymbals, on the other hand, are smaller and are often used in traditional and folk music.

Many people confuse suspended cymbals with crash cymbals, but they are different instruments. Crash cymbals are typically larger and are played with a striking motion, while suspended cymbals are smaller and are played with a sweeping motion to produce a sustained sound. Similarly, the ride cymbal is used for a continuous rhythmic pattern, while the suspended cymbal is used for accents and special effects.

Suspended cymbals are played in various ways, including striking it with a mallet, hitting it with a drumstick, or using a cymbal roll technique. Different mallets or sticks can be used to produce different sounds, such as soft yarn mallets for a delicate sound or hard sticks for a louder and more forceful sound.

One of the main benefits of using a suspended cymbal in percussive music is the added depth and texture it brings to the overall sound. It can also create a sense of tension or suspense, making it a great addition to dramatic or emotional pieces. Additionally, the sustained sound of a suspended cymbal can create a dreamy or ethereal atmosphere in a song.

Some famous songs that feature suspended cymbals include “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman, “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. In these songs, the suspended cymbal adds a dramatic and powerful element to the music, enhancing the overall impact of the song.

Musicians looking to incorporate suspended cymbals into their own music can experiment with different techniques and mallets to create unique sounds. It is also important to consider the placement of the cymbal and how it fits into the overall composition. With its versatility and unique sound, the suspended cymbal can add a dynamic and memorable element to any percussive music piece.

What is a Suspended Cymbal?

What is a Suspended Cymbal? - Suspended Cymbal: Hanging Harmonies in Percussive Music

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A suspended cymbal is a percussion instrument that consists of a thin metal plate suspended by a strap or chain and is struck with a drumstick or mallet to produce a shimmering and sustained sound. Its unique design allows for a wide range of tones and dynamics, making it a popular choice in orchestral, band, and contemporary music genres. The suspended cymbal adds texture, accents, and dramatic effects to musical compositions, creating a distinctive and captivating sound that enhances the overall musical experience, whether in soft melodies or intense climaxes.

How is a Suspended Cymbal Used in Percussive Music?

A suspended cymbal is a versatile instrument used in various ways in percussive music. Here are the steps on how a suspended cymbal can be used:

  1. Crash: It can be struck with a drumstick or mallet to create a loud, explosive crash sound.
  2. Roll: By dragging a mallet or brush across the cymbal, a sustained rolling sound can be produced.
  3. Swells: By gently striking the cymbal and gradually increasing the pressure, a swell effect can be achieved.
  4. Accents: The cymbal can be used to emphasize certain beats or accents in the music.
  5. Muting: By placing a hand or a piece of fabric against the cymbal, the sound can be dampened or muted.

These techniques showcase the versatility and expressive possibilities of the suspended cymbal in percussive music.

What Genres of Music Use Suspended Cymbals?

Suspended cymbals are widely used in a variety of musical genres, adding depth and texture to the music. These genres include:

  1. Orchestral Music: Suspended cymbals are commonly used in orchestral compositions, enhancing dramatic moments and creating impactful crescendos.
  2. Jazz: Jazz musicians often utilize suspended cymbals to add shimmering accents and create atmospheric effects in their improvisations.
  3. Rock and Pop: Suspended cymbals can be found in rock and pop genres, adding a dynamic and explosive element to drum fills and accentuating climactic sections.
  4. World Music: Various world music genres, such as Middle Eastern and African music, incorporate suspended cymbals to create rhythmic patterns and enhance traditional percussion ensembles.

Pro-tip: Experiment with different playing techniques and mallets/sticks to explore the unique sounds and possibilities that suspended cymbals can bring to your music.

What are the Different Types of Suspended Cymbals?

There are various types of suspended cymbals used in percussive music, each with its own unique sound. These include the crash cymbal, ride cymbal, and sizzle cymbal. Crash cymbals produce a loud and explosive sound when struck together, while ride cymbals create a sustained sound and are often used for rhythmic patterns. Sizzle cymbals, on the other hand, have rivets or chains attached to them, creating a shimmering effect when played. These cymbals can be utilized to add depth and texture to musical compositions.

What is the Difference between a Suspended Cymbal and a Crash Cymbal?

A suspended cymbal and a crash cymbal are two distinct percussion instruments, each with its own unique characteristics.

  • A suspended cymbal is thinner and usually larger than a crash cymbal, producing a longer sustain and a more focused tone.
  • In contrast, a crash cymbal is thicker and typically smaller, resulting in a quick, explosive sound with a shorter sustain.
  • The suspended cymbal is often played with mallets or soft mallets, while crash cymbals are struck with drumsticks or brushes.

True story: In a live performance, a drummer mistakenly used a suspended cymbal instead of a crash cymbal during a climactic moment in a song. The prolonged sustain created an unexpected ethereal effect that captivated the audience and became a defining moment of the performance.

What is the Difference between a Suspended Cymbal and a Ride Cymbal?

The difference between a suspended cymbal and a ride cymbal can be seen in a few ways. First and foremost, a suspended cymbal is mounted or hung on a stand, while a ride cymbal sits on a stand and rests on a felt washer. Additionally, a suspended cymbal creates a shimmering and sustained sound when struck, while a ride cymbal produces a distinct and rhythmic sound when played with a drumstick or mallet. Lastly, suspended cymbals are often used for special effects and accents, while ride cymbals are primarily used for maintaining a steady rhythm. It is important for percussionists to understand these differences when selecting the appropriate cymbal for their music.

How is a Suspended Cymbal Played?

Playing a suspended cymbal requires specific techniques and steps. Here is a list of instructions on how to play a suspended cymbal:

  1. Hold the cymbal by its strap or handle.
  2. Position the cymbal at an angle, with the edge facing towards you.
  3. Strike the cymbal with a mallet, drumstick, or brush.
  4. Experiment with different striking techniques to produce various sounds, such as hitting the edge, bowing the cymbal, or scraping it with a brush.
  5. Adjust the force and angle of your strikes to control the volume and sustain.
  6. Explore different playing techniques like rolls, crashes, swells, and accents to create dynamic and expressive sounds.

By following these steps, you can effectively play a suspended cymbal and produce harmonious and percussive music.

What Techniques are Used to Play a Suspended Cymbal?

To play a suspended cymbal, percussionists utilize a variety of techniques to produce a range of sounds and effects. These techniques involve striking the cymbal with a mallet or drumstick at varying degrees of force and angle. Other methods include scraping the edge of the cymbal with a stick, bowing it with a violin bow, or using hand techniques to create unique sounds. By experimenting with these techniques, percussionists can achieve a diverse range of tonal colors and textures, adding depth and character to their performances. These techniques are crucial for musicians looking to master the art of playing a suspended cymbal.

What Mallets or Sticks are Used to Play a Suspended Cymbal?

Musicians use various mallets or sticks to play a suspended cymbal, each producing a unique sound. Common options include:

  • Soft mallets: Made of yarn or felt, these mallets create a gentle, shimmering sound ideal for delicate passages.
  • Hard mallets: Constructed of rubber or wood, these mallets produce a sharper, more defined sound, suitable for accenting or cutting through loud sections.
  • Brushes: These consist of wire or nylon bristles, offering a softer, swishing sound that adds texture to the music.
  • Sticks: Drumsticks, typically made of wood or synthetic materials, are used to strike the suspended cymbal with precision and power.

What are the Benefits of Using a Suspended Cymbal in Percussive Music?

What are the Benefits of Using a Suspended Cymbal in Percussive Music? - Suspended Cymbal: Hanging Harmonies in Percussive Music

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When it comes to percussive music, incorporating a suspended cymbal into your performance can bring numerous benefits.

  • Enhanced dynamics: The suspended cymbal adds a range of tonal colors and textures, allowing for dynamic and expressive playing.
  • Extended sustain: It produces a long-lasting resonance, creating a sustained and atmospheric sound.
  • Artistic versatility: The suspended cymbal can be struck, bowed, or even scraped with different mallets or implements, offering a wide range of expressive possibilities.
  • Enhanced dramatic effect: It can be used to create suspense, tension, and dramatic climaxes in percussive compositions.

Fact: Suspended cymbals are often utilized in film scores and orchestral music to add depth and drama to the overall sound.

How Does a Suspended Cymbal Add to the Sound and Atmosphere of a Song?

A suspended cymbal enhances the sound and atmosphere of a song in several ways, including:

  1. Accentuation: By emphasizing specific moments or beats, the cymbal creates a dramatic effect in the song.
  2. Timbral Variation: With its unique sound quality, ranging from shimmering and sustained to explosive and crashing, the cymbal adds sonic diversity to the composition.
  3. Dynamic Range: The cymbal’s wide range of volume allows for subtle nuances or powerful climaxes in the music.
  4. Atmospheric Enhancement: Introducing layers of shimmering overtones and resonances, the suspended cymbal can create a dreamy or ethereal atmosphere within the song.
  5. Rhythmic Drive: When used as a rhythmic instrument, the cymbal provides a driving pulse or enhances syncopation, adding momentum and energy to the music.

What Are Some Famous Songs That Feature Suspended Cymbals?

Suspended cymbals add a unique and dramatic element to percussive music. They have been featured in several famous songs across various genres, including:

  1. “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins: The iconic drum fill in this song includes a suspended cymbal crash, creating a powerful moment.
  2. “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin: John Bonham’s distinctive drumming incorporates suspended cymbal accents, adding intensity to the song.
  3. “Tom Sawyer” by Rush: Neil Peart’s intricate drumming utilizes suspended cymbals, showcasing their versatility in progressive rock.

These songs serve as examples of how suspended cymbals can elevate musical compositions and create memorable moments.

What Role Does the Suspended Cymbal Play in These Songs?

The suspended cymbal plays a crucial role in these songs, adding depth, texture, and drama to the music. In orchestral pieces like “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss, the suspended cymbal creates powerful crashing sounds, emphasizing climactic moments. In rock songs like “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, the cymbal enhances the rhythm and builds anticipation. Its shimmering sound can be heard in jazz tunes like “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck, contributing to the overall groove. The suspended cymbal’s ability to sustain and create unique harmonics allows it to provide an ethereal atmosphere in songs like “BolĂ©ro” by Maurice Ravel. Its versatility makes it an essential component of various music genres and compositions throughout history.

How Can Musicians Incorporate Suspended Cymbals into Their Own Music?

How Can Musicians Incorporate Suspended Cymbals into Their Own Music? - Suspended Cymbal: Hanging Harmonies in Percussive Music

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Douglas Clark

Incorporating suspended cymbals into music can greatly enhance the dynamic and atmospheric elements of a composition. Here are some steps on how musicians can achieve this:

  1. Experiment with different playing techniques, such as striking the cymbal with a mallet, bowing it, or scraping it, to discover unique sounds and effects.
  2. Consider the placement of the cymbal within the musical arrangement to create desired effects, such as accents or transitions, that add depth and dimension to the music.
  3. Explore the use of cymbals of different sizes and thicknesses to achieve a wide range of sounds and tonal qualities.
  4. Experiment with the duration and intensity of cymbal crashes to add drama and impact to specific moments in the music.
  5. Integrate the cymbal into rhythmic patterns, creating intricate layers and textures that add complexity and interest to the music.

Fact: Suspended cymbals have been used for centuries in a variety of musical genres, from classical orchestral compositions to contemporary rock and jazz.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a suspended cymbal and what is its purpose in music?

A suspended cymbal is a type of cymbal that is suspended in the air, either by a suspended cymbal stand or a percussion player’s hand. Its purpose is to add texture and depth to music by creating hanging harmonies and building tension.

How is the suspended cymbal typically used in different musical setups?

The suspended cymbal is commonly found in drum sets, conga or hand drum setups, and orchestras, bands, or wind ensembles. Its use varies depending on the setup, but it is often played with sticks, Hot Rods, brushes, or yarn mallets.

What is a suspended cymbal roll and how is it achieved?

A suspended cymbal roll is a technique used to create a continuous sound by alternating strokes with yarn mallets on the outer edges of the cymbal. It can add intensity to a piece of music and is a staple in percussion performances.

What is a piatti attack and how is it different from a suspended cymbal roll?

A piatti attack is a technique where the cymbal is struck quickly with a wooden stick and muted shortly after. This creates a sharp, punctuated sound, in contrast to the sustained sound of a suspended cymbal roll. It is often seen in music scores.

Can a suspended cymbal be used as a substitute for hand cymbals?

Yes, a suspended cymbal can be used as a substitute for hand cymbals, but it is not as acoustically effective. Hand cymbals produce a cleaner, brighter sound and are specifically designed for playing in pairs, whereas suspended cymbals are typically played individually.

Who is Sabrina Pena Young and what is her connection to suspended cymbals?

Sabrina Pena Young is an award-winning composer and expert in virtual opera production and music technology. She has been a consultant and speaker in music, arts, and technology, and her works have been presented at various prestigious venues and events worldwide. She has also been referred to as “Wagner 2.0” and offers five-star strategic consulting and artist development services.