The modern Turkish cymbal is a round, slightly conical plate with a raised dome in the center. In the middle of the dome is a small aperture which enables the cymbal to be hung on a holder. The rim is smooth.
For reasons of tone cymbals are generally thicker in the center than at the rim.
To produce the best possible tone the plate is hammered with special hammers before it leaves the factory. This procedure requires great care and skill because it is very easy to damage the instrument. It is this technique that gives cymbals their typical dented appearance.
Cymbals are made using brass wire, sheet brass, nickel silver, Neubronze or bronze alloys. Just as the type of hammering employed varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, the composition of the alloy used is also a jealously guarded trade secret. One possible alloy used by the famous Turkish cymbal manufacturers Zildjian (Armenian for “cymbal maker”) is four parts copper, one part pewter and a quantity of silver.
There is no difference between the cymbals used in the symphony orchestra and those found in popular music.
The Chinese cymbal has a dome in the form of a pot and the rim has a slight upward curve. It, too, is suspended and only very rarely is it held in the hand.