Cymbal Progressios

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Recently, I have been mapping my cymbal to chords and playing forms.

For example, I'll map my large ride to I my 15" hat to IV and my 14" hat to V then comp a 12 bar blues progression. I map my China to a six chord and a small crash to a iii and my large crash to ii chord, then I can play the rhythm changes form.

Does anyone have other ways of orchestrating their cymbals? I find it helps playing the forms because counting 12 or 32 bars it's easy to get off, and I can also hear where the breaks go better.
 

Beam Me Up Scotty

Silver Member
I uhh, I hit my cymbals. They make sounds. I have ones that make different sounds; higher pitch, lower pitch... That's pretty much how I orchestrate them.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I also just hit cymbals.

I do give deliberate thought as to what cymbals I decide to hit on a particular occasion, but I simply listen and decide what sounds pleasing, as opposed to applying any rules. The intervals between cymbals can vary widely, and all may sound great to me. Conversely, I would be very limited if I forced exact intervals.

Bermuda
 

Mikeyboyeee

Senior Member
Recently, I have been mapping my cymbal to chords and playing forms.

For example, I'll map my large ride to I my 15" hat to IV and my 14" hat to V then comp a 12 bar blues progression. I map my China to a six chord and a small crash to a iii and my large crash to ii chord, then I can play the rhythm changes form.

Does anyone have other ways of orchestrating their cymbals? I find it helps playing the forms because counting 12 or 32 bars it's easy to get off, and I can also hear where the breaks go better.
You Sir, have too much time on your hands...
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I promise you... There are tons and tons of better ways to work on your drumming that will actually improve you, and not to mention, won't rely on certain cymbals.

Just go play, dude.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
There's nothing wrong with experimenting and listening closely to the sound of your instrument. You probably won't want to make this your full time thing, but you might hit on something interesting/usable that no one else will be doing. At the very least you'll end up being more harmonically aware than most other drummers.

Normally you want to play one cymbal for an entire section, chorus, or soloist at least. Here's something Mel Lewis said about this in Modern Drummer-- this is kind of the bible for orchestrating cymbals:

Every cymbal you have should be a ride cymbal, because you should treat the different sections with a different ride behind it." There is nothing worse than the monotony of one cymbal going on behind everything. When the band is playing along and they keep hearing the same cymbal sound, it just disappears in their minds. But when you make a change to another ride cymbal, it wakes them up again. Even in my dark sounds there is still a higher sound, a medium sound, and a lower sound. I'll use the high sound behind a piano. I'll also use the lowest sound behind a piano. But I won't use the middle sound behind the piano because it's too much in the piano's range. Behind the piano, a flute, or a muted trumpet, I'll also use the hi-hats or brushes. When I'm playing behind, say, a trumpet solo followed by a tenor solo, and I know that the tenor player is a hard-blower, I'll use the Chinese cymbal behind the tenor. Now, if it's just going to be a trumpet solo, or if the tenor player has a lighter sound, I'll use my normal 20" ride cymbal.

But I'll always save my Chinese for the hardest blowing soloist. I don't work it out; it's just automatic—which cymbal suits which soloist. I want to have a low cymbal behind a soloist who has a harsh, high sound. With a subdued type of player who has a softer edge, I don't want something that strong, so I go to a lighter, higher sound to complement it. When the band is roaring, for main ensemble work, I would stick with my 20" ride or I would use my hi-hats and really lay into them, which was the norm in the old days anyway. If it's an ensemble that keeps building, then when I hit the final loudest point, I'll go to the Chinese. So I might play three cymbals in the course of an ensemble. If you have three choruses of ensemble— which is rare—the first chorus is not going to be that shouting. It's going to build to that. The second one is going to be stronger so you change cymbals. Then you go to the roarer for your last one. Another thing I've found is that it's good to change cymbals on the bridge of tunes and then go back. A bridge is a musical change, so your cymbals should be a musical change also. If it's the first chorus, I'll play hi-hats for 16 bars, go to a light ride cymbal for the bridge, and then go back to the hi-hats to finish it out. Then I'll go to my chosen ride cymbal for the solo. But every cymbal should be a ride cymbal and every cymbal should be a crash cymbal. I've been noticing that almost everyone has only one ride cymbal and a million crash cymbals. You don't need the crash cymbals. You need the ride cymbals, because that's where your whole thing is coming from. Crash cymbals are only for accents, so you can hit any cymbal for a crash.
I don't know about there being "nothing worse" than just playing one cymbal all night-- that's what Tony Williams did for most of the 60s-- he did not ride on his second cymbal. At least there's more than one view on that subject.

Normally I may change cymbals going from the intro to the head, or the A sections to the bridge, or between soloists, or, rarely, in the later choruses of a long solo. I usually play the same cymbal behind the same player, but I will vary it-- I don't want to have hihat behind all the bass solos all night, for example. Doing these changes, or not, is just intuitive-- maybe one tune wants to have some color shifts, and another feels like it should be more static.

I pulled some more cymbal commentary from that interview here.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
While what you describe has merit, you just can't do that everywhere to all music. Like if you have lyric based music, being too busy or standing out too much behind the vocalist is generally looked down upon. During a lead section it might be cool, as long as the flow is not disrupted. As long as what you do... isn't at odds with what the rest of the band needs from you....everything should be fine.

It's great that you understand where the chord changes are and what those chords are though. That's good stuff.

It all comes down to when and where and even if....to use all the myriad of different playing options available. It's like conversation. You don't want to say anything stupid and mean it lol.

Quite the contrary.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I find it helps playing the forms because counting 12 or 32 bars it's easy to get off, and I can also hear where the breaks go better.
"If you can't sing it, you can't play it."

If you're finding it difficult to play repeating forms, then the solution is to develop your understanding of the forms, so that you can "hear" the chord changes, rather than count measures. Learning to play these chord progressions yourself, on a pitched instrument, is a great way to do this. Singing the melody of the tune is another way. Singing the root notes of the chord progressions is yet another.

What you're talking won't help much -- it's barely different than simply counting measures -- and it's just going to make non-drummers find drummers who aren't you to play in their bands.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
For example, I'll map my large ride to I my 15" hat to IV and my 14" hat to V then comp a 12 bar blues progression. I map my China to a six chord and a small crash to a iii and my large crash to ii chord, then I can play the rhythm changes form.
Thanks for mentioning this. I tried it today at practice and while I did not like it, it might work in some situations.
 
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