Suspended cymbal - Sticks and mallets
The sticks used for the Turkish suspended cymbal have the following specifications:
Shaft length: approx. 30 – 35 cm.
Head diameter: 2.3 – 4 cm.
Material: wrapped in yarn, cord or fabric; rubber, felt, wood.
Suspended cymbals are most often struck with yarn-wrapped sticks (harder) and felt timpani mallets (softer). There is a huge range of sticks and mallets, from extra hard to extra soft, so a wide variety of effects can be achieved. Very occasionally drumsticks, triangle beaters, brushes and cello or double-bass bows are used.
It is usually the percussionist who decides which stick to use and his decision depends on the requirements of the piece, taking into account orchestration and volume.
Timpani mallets and soft sticks are suitable mainly for quiet entries with the brass, because the strike is not so prominent, which is more conducive to the overall sound. Soft mallets are also used for piano rolls because less attack is produced and the single strokes merge more readily to an unbroken sound.
Yarn-wrapped sticks and wood mallets are preferred for fortissimo single strokes and for striking simultaneously with the single strokes of other percussion instruments such as the side drum, castanets etc. Hard sticks are also used for quiet single strokes, however, so that members of the audience who are sitting a long way away can hear the sound of the strike as well.
When playing a roll hard sticks are less capable of producing a continuous tone; on the other hand, they produce a higher volume. A merging of notes is perfectly possible with hard sticks at high volume, too.
Special effects can be achieved with metal mallets. The sound becomes very metallic and harsh (with thick metal mallets).
If the cymbal is struck with a brush the sound is very quiet, still metallic, but never harsh.
Cello or double-bass bow
Playing with a double-bass bow is an important effect. The sound varies according to the cymbal, the volume and the amount of pressure exerted on the cymbal by the bow and ranges from a definite note to a shrill cluster.
In principle the same types of stick are used for the Chinese cymbal as for the Turkish cymbal. However, the dynamic range of the former is not so large which means that fewer nuances are possible.