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Cymbals are a common percussion instrument. Cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys; see cymbal making for a discussion of their manufacture. The greater majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient designs sound a definite note (see: crotales). Cymbals are used in many ensembles ranging from the orchestra, percussion ensembles, jazz bands, heavy metal bands, and marching groups. Drum kits usually incorporate at least one suspended cymbal and a pair of hi-hat cymbals.



The word cymbal is derived from the Latin cymbalum, which is the romanization of the Greek word "κύμβαλον" (kumbalon), "cymbal",[1] which in turn derives from "κύμβος" (kumbos), "cup".[2]


The anatomy of the cymbal plays a large part in the sound it creates.[3] The hole is drilled in the center of the cymbal and it is used to either mount the cymbal on a stand or straps (for hand playing). The bell, dome, or cup is the raised section immediately surrounding the hole. The bell produces a higher "pinging" pitch than the rest of the cymbal. The bow is the rest of the surface surrounding the bell. The bow is sometimes described in two areas: the ride and crash area. The ride area is the thicker section closer to the bell while the crash area is the thinner tapering section near the edge. The edge or rim is the immediate circumference of the cymbal.

Cymbals are measured by their diameter often in inches or centimeters. The size of the cymbal affects its sound, larger cymbals usually being louder and having longer sustain. The weight describes how thick the cymbal is. Cymbal weights are important to the sound they produce and how they play. Heavier cymbals have a louder volume, more cut, and better stick articulation (when using drum sticks). Thin cymbals have a fuller sound and faster response.

The profile of the cymbal is the vertical distance of the bow from the bottom of the bell to the cymbal edge (higher profile cymbals are more bowl shaped). The profile affects the pitch of the cymbal; Higher profile cymbals have higher pitch.

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