Lesson 6: Crash Cymbals & Musical Changes

What is a Crash Cymbal

Crash cymbals (or simply ‘crash’) make a high pitched, long ‘csssssh’ sound when hit with a drumstick. This part of a drum kit is often used to emphasize changes in pieces of music and add heavier impact to new elements of sound being added to a song.

We recommend placing your crash cymbal on the top row of pads in the top left corner:

Musical Changes

Generally, big changes in pieces of music occur after multiples of 4 bars. For example, each section of a piece of music may last 4, 8, 12, 16, 24 or 32 bars before any major change occurs. These changes could include: a new element being added, an element being taken away, a change in the notes being played, a transition from verse to chorus etc.

Emphasize The Changes with a Crash Cymbal

When musical changes occur, they can be more impactful if you add a crash cymbal on the first beat of the first bar. As there is generally a kick drum on any first beat of the bar where drums are present, you will usually play the crash on top of the kick drum.

Here’s an example of a track with a crash cymbal on the first beat of the first bar, every 8 bars (wherever there is a change in the music):

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