Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Music & Performing Arts


Music and Audio Technology

First Advisor

Lanier Sammons


The purpose of my research paper was to study, analyze and compare cymbal-making processes by popular and independent cymbal manufacturers to understand the individual elements that make cymbals sound the way they do. I researched the history of cymbals, their alloy construct, their physical sound design, and their frequency output.

My investigation of individual cymbals began with understanding how each cymbal was made, what it consisted of, and how those factors applied to the sound the cymbal made when a drumstick struck it. I measured the frequency output of five different cymbals by recording each cymbal as it was struck using a Slate Virtual Microphone System. The recorded audio was then run through a Waves PAZ Analyzer, which showed the loudness, RMS, and frequency response of each cymbal.

I found that the physical design and the alloys used to make the cymbal are the main factors used to give cymbals their specific sound. Lathing patterns and hammering indentations control how sharp or loose a cymbal will sound. The alloys of a cymbal control the frequency ranges the cymbal sound will be in.

I concluded my research realizing there are endless physical design patterns and alloy mixtures that can create an endless amount of different cymbals. There is an art form to cymbal making that applies not only to musicians, but to engineers and craftsman as well. I think this research is especially beneficial to any drummer or audio engineer that is looking to create or record a specific sound with cymbals. By applying the knowledge of alloy mixtures and physical sound design, I, as a drummer and audio engineer, can make my music and productions better for the people I work with and for those who hear it.

Included in

Music Commons