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Do cymbals change pitch?


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  • Do cymbals change pitch?

    Over the past few days I've noticed something between the two 16" crashes I have. I was setting them up so the higher pitched cymbal would be on the left of the kit and the slightly lower pitched one would be on the right.

    Hours later I thought something was strange, the one on the right sounded higher pitched. I swapped them so the high pitched one would be on the left again, scratched my head, and shrugged.

    Hours later the pitches were reversed again. I tried hitting the cymbals both in different places, I tried positioning myself in different locations above and below the cymbals to see if maybe I'm catching different characteristics of projection when I keep noticing the effect, but it really is like they keep swapping pitch. I don't know if one keeps going high and low while the other is consistent, or if both are alternating.

    Am I crazy or is this a thermal/metal issue, or what?

  • #2
    If they get dirty they could get 'darker' sounding. But in theory, they'd be getting dirty at the same rate.

    Better knock off the drugs.
    Move to the beat of a different drummer.tommymaras.comAmedia cymbal artist.Amedia CymbalsScorched Earth - Psalter Drums


    • #3
      Only thing I can think of is, your ears are getting fatigued. Apparently it's common for drummers who play loud and don't wear ear protection to think their snare is going out of tune when it's really not. Maybe this is something like that.

      Or maybe (since i'm pretty sure at least one of those crashes is new?) you're seeing first hand the effect of "breaking in" a new cymbal. I think a lot of new cymbals sound real harsh for a while, and then after a little playing they mature. Who knows?
      "wouldn't it be more of an act of rebellion if you didn't spend so much time buying blue hair dye and going out to get punky clothes? it seems so petty. stop me if I'm being offensive. you wanna be an individual, right? you look like you're wearing a uniform. you look like a punk. that's not rebellion. that's fashion."

      - slc punk

      "No other formula past or present has been as successful with lesser capital investment risks."



      • #4
        Originally posted by locust tree
        Only thing I can think of is, your ears are getting fatigued.

        Probably something along those lines. And just like tuning a drum, there are a whole bunch of different harmonics making up that pitch, so you're probably just hearing it differently. A cymbal certainly isn't going to change pitch that quickly and frequently.

        When we recorded, I had my toms tuned in a nice intervals but after tracking one tune, it sounded like my third tom was actually lower in pitch than my floor time. I said that and the engineer looked at me like I was crazy... It happens, it's usually in our heads (not drum heads )
        Good deals with: Pablo Escobar, Rod Blagoyevich, Jeff Gillooly


        • #5
          I have experience this very strange phenomenon as you. While choosing cymbals at Sabian, they could set up several cymbals and on the first pass, they sounded one pitch, and at second pass, they sounded complelely different.
          Unfortunatly, there is no common palate cleanser for our ears other than letting them completely rest for a little (like say, you can clear your nose when testing fragrances by sniffing coffee, or cleanse your mouth with water if wine tasting).
          The first strike on the cymbals start our ears vibrating, which can change the pitch we hear as we have exercized that "muscle" in our ears.
          Additionally, the force of your strike can change the pitch as well. If you test this, you will find that if you strike the cymbals hard, you will have two different pitchs, and if you lightly tap the cymbals, that pitch may be totally opposite from the hard strike pitches.

          Keeping the Harmony at Harmony Central