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I used to play in a band with a drummer who used to grab the crash cymbal with his left hand and strike it hard whilst playing the bass drum. This made a really nice sound like iron being struck in a Blacksmith. I was wondering whether this technique has a name so I can find and download a sample of it to use in my compositions. Thanks.

  • Was it grabbed before or just after it was hit? – Tim Nov 27 '15 at 20:14
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    Sounds like before, so I'm not sure it's a cymbal choke. – Brian Tung Nov 27 '15 at 20:48
  • To clarify, it was grabbed before hitting the cymbal and then struck on the edge – Tim Hargreaves Nov 28 '15 at 16:26
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It's called "choking" or "cymbal choke".

Another name for it is "muting". Unfortunately that term is overloaded since it also means putting materials on cymbals to make them sound quieter for practice or just to make them less intense.

Even if the drummer is holding the cymbal before or during, I'd say choke is still the best word. If your drummer got a serious "ping" sound then that's probably a choke combined with hitting the bell of the cymbal (hump right near the hole in the center - see here). He might have been choking to make sure only the bell sound rings out instead of the bow (the main part of the cymbal), which might have added a noisy sizzle to the sound and taken away from the clarity of the bell sound.

  • I think that is close to what he was doing but after watching videos of typical cymbal chokes the sound is very different to when holding the cymbal and then hitting it. And he hit it on the edge rather than the bell. – Tim Hargreaves Nov 28 '15 at 16:33
  • He might have had an unusual cymbal that he was playing. – Todd Wilcox Nov 28 '15 at 19:53
  • Nah, every kit he went on. – Tim Hargreaves Nov 28 '15 at 22:51
  • @TimHargreaves Todd Wilcox is correct here - the technique is called a choke and can be performed on any type of cymbal. You can specify where you would like the percussionist to choke (bell, center, edge) as well as what kind of beater to use (stick, yarn, cotton, etc). The addition of the bass drum kick is optional, but highly favored - it is more of a performance practice than a written convention. It could be that the particular beater / cymbal / drum / performance combination gives you the sound you're looking for. Easiest thing to do would be to email the drummer and ask for a recording. – jjmusicnotes Nov 29 '15 at 21:48
  • I agree that Todd is correct, but I was just hoping there would be a more specific word for what I was talking about. I guess not though. – Tim Hargreaves Nov 30 '15 at 17:16
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As far as i know, holding the cymbal while striking it is called 'damping.' You could also try searching for "(cymbal) bell" since striking the bell of a cymbal (without damping and especially a thick cymbal) gives a clear metallic sound that fits your description.

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