German: (Türkisches) Becken-Paar, Becken a due
French: cymbales (à 2)
Italian: piatti (a due), cinelli
Nowadays the cymbal family consists of the pair (cymbals a due), the suspended cymbal and the hi-hat. The pair of cymbals and the hi-hat are sounded by striking one plate against the other, while the suspended cymbal is struck with a stick or mallet.
In every culture the striking of one cymbal against another (hence the term "concussion vessels" to describe cymbals) is the oldest technique. Striking the plate with a stick (as a percussion vessel) was introduced as a concession to Western musical styles.
The pair of cymbals is used especially to accentuate musical climaxes and from the Romantic period it has played an important role in the orchestra. Its powerful sound can rise above the entire orchestra.
In marching and wind bands the cymbals have always been one of the most important instruments. Indeed, their rhythmic function and distinctive sound are such an integral part of this type of music that it would be unthinkable without them.
The term cymbal (also zymbel or zimbel), which originally described every cymbal-like instrument, is derived from the Latin cymbalum and the Greek kýmbalon (cup).
Percussion instrument, idiophone with indefinite pitch, concussion vessel
Approx. 16"–22" (41–56 cm)
Approx. 1500–2500 g per cymbal
Brass wire, sheet brass, nickel silver, bronze alloys