How cymbals make their mark—with history, metallurgy, and a crash

Posted on: August 9, 2018

“The surest route to a drummer’s heart? Cymbals,” writes Laura Pellegrini in Sunday’s (8/5) New York Times. “ ‘You can have all the swirling harmony in the world,’ the drummer Brian Blade said, ‘but only the cymbals can put you over the top of that mountain you’re trying to climb.’ … he thinks of his cymbals as an extension of himself, though he also gives credit for his distinctive sound to the instruments he plays: Zildjians.… Zildjian was incorporated in the United States in 1929. But the company’s relationship with drummers, and drumming itself, dates back much further: 400 years to be precise, to 1618, when a secret casting process resulted in the creation of a new bronze alloy for the court of Sultan Osman II, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire…. It’s no wonder that composers like Gluck and Mozart wanted to emulate a Turkish style with busy, glittering percussion…. What came to be known simply as ‘Turkish cymbals’ were assimilated by European orchestras.” Vintage cymbals “can be heard in the Philadelphia, Cleveland and Metropolitan Opera orchestras, among others. Gregory Zuber, the Met’s principal percussionist, said, ‘It’s a tradition that’s been handed down from player to player.’ ”

Posted August 9, 2018