re: cymbals: crash vs. clash

I don’t know whether I’ve been mis-hearing what other people say, or whether I’ve been hanging around the wrong people, but I have always called hand-held cymbal pairs being banged together “crash cymbals.” And I THOUGHT other people were calling them that too.

However, yesterday for the first time I needed to add such to an arranged orchestral score, which in the original are called ‘Piatti,’ and discovered that in Dorico they’re called “clash cymbals.” Thinking this must surely be a mis-print (having never consciously heard the term before), I did some research and discovered that, indeed, hand-held cymbals which in Italian are known as "Piatti’ are indeed in English properly called “clash cymbals.” AND in the process of discovering THAT, I also discovered that a “crash cymbal” in English means a large suspended cymbal in a drum kit. !!! I have never been much around people who play or write for drum kits, so that usage can’t explain my misunderstanding.

No jokes about languages that have no ‘r’ sound, please. But, seriously, for my own peace of mind, is this a case of me making a seriously wrong-headed assumption, or are there in fact people other than myself who refer to hand-held cymbal pairs in classical orchestral settings as “crash cymbals”? (Regardless of your feedback, I will from this moment on call them ‘clash cymbals,’ but I’m just wondering about how red-faced I should be when remembering past conversations.)


It’s not just you — pretty much every percussionist I know calls these “crash cymbals.” I hardly ever hear the term “clash cymbals.”

Thanks, now I feel better!

The things I keep learning… They were always “Crash” especially in marching band, but then I grew up in a small Missouri town…

So that’s what percussionists mean when they take one look at my score and ask me, “Have you no clash?!”

Even professional session players mix up those two terms sometimes. You might want to stay with “Piatti”, which is unambiguous.
Not sure about a marching band use.

I’m going to put my hand up for clashed = two cymbals brought together. crash is a suspended cymbal in a drum kit, alongside splash and ride – I’d expect it to be the largest of the 3.

In >99% of cases, the ride cymbal is the largest (generally 18–24”) and the crash cymbal will be smaller (usually 14–18”).

Incidentally, I’ve never heard a drum set player call these cymbals “suspended.”

It’s a bit pointless calling drum set cymbals “suspended”, because that’s the only sort there are in a drum kit. Even the hi-hat is “suspended” in some sense of the word.

Orchestral percussionists know the difference between crash/clash cymbals and suspended cymbals, of course.

Rob: Yes, but the question was, what do orchestral percussionists CALL their clash/crash cymbals? And I’m not talking about in instances when they’ve just dropped them on the floor.

As a computer-only orchestral person, one who had never worked specifically with percussion and drum kit talk, I had the same confusion and reached the same apparently wrong conclusion. Thanks for bringing this up.

I really wish Dorico or a user would put together a video on orchestral percussion and how best to set it up with regard to Expression Maps and/or Percussion Maps and Kits.

VSL has various types of keyboard mappings for percussion. Some pitched percussion have duplicate ranges, one for each hand. Other unpitched percussion has various key mappings for different types of hits and different matrices for different mallets.

Is it best to use an Expression Map for pitched percussion?

If I were to construct a Percussion Map for unpitched, how would I go about it for maximum ease and effectiveness?

That said, I really appreciate how the Dorico team is doing it’s best to address the needs of VST users.