Cymbal sounds

I'm sort of a newbie when it comes to writing for cymbals, but due to the enormous number of kids that have turned up for my high school group, we have decided to march a cymbal line. The sounds available in virtual drumline have greatly opened up my writing style to add new textures and colors. That being said, could some one help me clarify the techniques for the port crashes and flat crashes. I have never marched in a group that had a cymbal line except in college, where texture and color really didn't mean a lot :twisted: . My cymbal experience is limited to orchestral/percussion ensemble playing. Thanks in advance for the help....
I, too, am curious about the port and flat crash techniques. I recently began teching a first-year college cymbal line and am trying to gain insight into other folks' techniques, style, philosophy, and TERMINOLOGY. Often, in speaking with another instructor about cymbal playing, I find that some confusion arises regarding terminology -- we may be talking about the same technique, but calling it by two completely different names. For example, our new caption head had written cymbal parts in some of the exercises, and there were a few notes with the designation "Mickey". After asking him, "what the h*ll is a mickey?", I determined that he was referring to what I would refer to as a "double flash" an orch crash from vertical position, and on the release turn both cymbals so that the insides face directly at the audience.

However, this port crash and flat crash stuff has me baffled...Jim, et al., wanna help us out here?
The Zildjian website has some teaching aids that might help. Click on education>teaching aids>marching and drum corps.

Gabe Cobas
I've read the teaching aids on the Zildjian site, and while it is great information, it doesn't address the issue we're trying to deal with in this thread.

I checked the "Foundations in Brass" text by Andrew Nixon and Edward Capps, which describes much of the technical approach used by the cymbal line at Spirit of JSU. From the information in this book, I've come to the conclusion that a port crash is an exaggerated, more dynamic version of a push crash. The crash is played from what many people refer to as orchestral position. The prep is performed by pulling the top cymbal up and back, into the crease of the elbow. The crash is executed by bringing the top cymbal down and forward into the bottom cymbal. The front edge of the top cymbal does not actually contact the bottom cymbal, rather the point of attack is reached when the front edge of the top cymbal is about 1-2" in front of the front edge of the bottom cymbal (in order to avoid an air pocket). The release involves following through with the top cymbal, extending the arm straight forward. Then the top cymbal/arm can return to "set" orchestral position. If this description differs substantially from the SCV definition of a port crash, I hope that Jim Casella and company will inform us otherwise!

As for the "flat crash", I'm still a bit lost. From the name, one might infer that it is a crash played without any sort of flam motion, but rather all edges of the cymbals striking simultaneously. For this to yield any semblance of a good sound, I would assume one would have to offset the cymbals by an inch or so to avoid getting an air pocket. Am I close to the mark here, folks?
Hey guys - I think this may be sort of a "potato/poTAHto" topic. There's countless ways to play cymbals, as well as naming the variety of techniques used. To be honest, I'm not sure where the "port" term originated, but it's basically an upright crash (plates in front of face) with a large attack/followthrough. At SCV we don't generally use them a whole lot, but they're most often used for big moment, also when the guys are high marking time. Stylistically, it'd be similar to our orchestral crash which is done on more of an angle (chest level). Flat crashes refer to those that are played with the cymbals horizontal (parallel to the ground). The 'receiving' plate (LH) stays stationary for the most part, while the 'serving' plate (sorry...) crashes against it, moving away from the body. These work well for faster passages since there's a smaller prep motion.

Ultimately with the different cymbal crashes in VDL, I use them all interchangeably, not necessarily using the sound that we'll ultimately use in the trenches. To me, they all sound good, and unique in their own ways, so rather than specifying style, I simply use different crashes to get a variety of sounds in playback. To me, it adds to the realism.

Hope this sheds a little light for some of you.

Thanks very much for the reply, Jim! Indeed, this is quite the potato/potahto topic. That is one of the things which makes it quite difficult for young instructors who are beginning to get involved with the marching activity. A lot of confusion arises as there is so little standardization of hand cymbal technique and terminology. And then there are other compounding factors, such as the fact that so many sections are abandoning the use of hand cymbals on the field, while some of those who do still use a cymbal section (such as SCV) continue to push limits and come up with new approaches to sound production and visual technique. It is a very underpublished subject, and those of us who deal with this each have our own methods and our own "lingo". Thanks again for clearing up what the intentions were with the VD crash samples!
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