Cymbals are a percussion instrument, of indeterminate sound, classified as shock or percussion idiophone (direct), consisting of one or two concave metal disks (made of brass, tin and / or silver), of the deepest concavity in the center of the disc, with dimensions between 15 and 61 centimeters. Assured by leather strap or other material or fixed material hole in the center of the disc or suspended on a suitable tripod or in the structure on the side of the bombo, the cymbals resound by shock, by direct percussion of pot, mop, broom or brush, or by activation of a pedal mechanism; composers of the late eighteenth century and nineteenth century have included in his works special sound effects cymbals, which result from the scraping of the collar or the friezes of cymbals or their arcing friction. The predominant technique of execution is shock in opposite directions, which ensures greater vibration of the discs. Cymbals can vibrate freely or be limited to attacking (being immediately smothered by the hand or chest of the performer). The cymbals incorporate the usual set of martial percussion, with bombo and snare drum. In fact, already in the first representations of the instrument, dating from the 2nd millennium a. C. (Babylon), the cymbals appear with the drum, serving the sound accompaniment of the combat activities (or martial training). Widely used by the Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian and Greco-Roman civilizations since the 2nd millennium BC, the cymbals were used in the Middle Ages as a rhythmic accompaniment of pagan and Christian rites, war activity, dance and dance. music. Instrument particular to the harmony Janissaries of the Turkish troops since century XIV, the cymbals have been gradually used by the composers since the end of the XVIIth century and introduced in the European military musical ensembles (designated like Feldmusik) since the middle of the XVIII century. Various types of suspended cymbals were developed for the jazz drums between the decades of 1920 and 1930, as the “sizzle”; the crash”; the “ride”; the “bounce” and the “hi-hat” (commonly called “shock cymbals”).
Revivalisms of the instrument of antiquity, small cymbals built with a specified accuracy, and aggregates in sets with a range of one to five octaves, are designated crotalus.
James Blades, James Holland e Alan Thrasher, “Cymbals” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Macmillan, 2001.