Cymbals are very ancient, dating back to 1200 BC towards the end of the Bronze Age, which began around -2700 BC. They have spiritual functions, their mystical sound inciting to a form of elevation. They are also used during warlike events, their power being able as much to frighten the enemy.
Many metal smelters have searched for the perfect alloy. In 1618, Avedis I, an Armenian alchemist from Constantinople, is said to have discovered an alloy that was highly valued for its musicality. In 1623, he received the agreement of Sultan Murad IV to leave the Ottoman palace where he worked to create his own cymbal foundry.
At the beginning of the 20th century, for suspended cymbals, drummers had little choice between models made of embossed copper sheets, without much sound quality, and thundering Chinese cymbals. Turkish cymbals were also sold in pairs, however, since they were originally intended for orchestra cymbalists.
In 1929, Jazz was booming.
The Zildjian company moved to the United States where it perpetuated and modernized its know-how. At the request of jazz drummers, lighter, thinner and less noisy cymbals are produced to play the famous Dingading sung by Chabada in France. Different models of suspended cymbals are designed: Ride, Splash, Crash, Swish as well as the riveted cymbal. The Chinese cymbals and gongs are also very famous. Along with Turkish cymbals, they were the first to be used on drums. Wuhan, named after the now well-known city, is one of the main manufacturers.
The alloys remained secret within the companies. The legatees pass it on orally. It is a question of preserving and maintaining the myth of alchemy. It is an open secret for any foundryman since it is simply bronze. The alloy is a combination of copper and tin. The quality cymbals are of standard B20 composed of 80% copper and 20% tin and some traces of silver. There is also the B8 standard, which contains only 8% tin for 92% copper. In Italy, the Unione Fabbrican7 Italiani Piac (UFIP) developed in 1931 a specific manufacturing system
specific manufacturing system: rotocasting.
It is the craftsman who, by hammering and chiseling each cymbal by hand, determines its unique characteristic. The cymbals contribute significantly to the color of the drummer's sound.
Other exciting topics on the drums
The bass drums
The bass drum pedal
The high hat pedal
The snare drum
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