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Thread: Cymbal Roll

  1. #1

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    Cymbal Roll

    Hi, Not sure whether im posting under the right heading.. Anyway, can i ask how to create the cymbal roll that are mostly used in ballad arrangement?? Read books abt it saying that you mus record over n over again, overlapping within the same bar den adjust the velocity n stuff, bt different songs nd different length of cymbal roll so hw do i adjust?? or r there better ways.. Pls advise.. Thks..

  2. #2

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    This is a very good question. I'm afraid you won't be getting the best effect you want short of using a patch or sample that actually record the cymbal roll itself. A few methods:

    1. You can sequence repeated cymbal hits, then increase the velocity of the notes to do the crescendo. But the effect will be artificial.

    2. To make point 1 more realistic (and if you only have access to cymbal hits), it will require a lot of programming. Firstly you need to edit the cymbal hit with a wave editor program. You need to slice off the first part of the cymbal hit waveform to create a sound without the hit (ie when the drum stick first hit the cymbals). Then use the first wave as the first note. For subsequent cymbal hits, use the edited wave form. Edit it to as fast as possible (at least demisemiquaver, but try hemidemisemiquaver or triplet demisemiquaver - note that too fast can create a bad effect). To make it slightly more realistic, it will be better for each note to last slightly longer and holds over beyond the next note. That means - if you are using demisemiquavers, each note should have a value of dotted demisemiquaver). The easier way to do this is to increase the timing in terms of milliseconds instead of note values. At least in Logic (which I'm using), clicking one of the notes will reveal the actual value of the note in ms. Simply change the timing to increase the value of each note (eg 20ms to 50 ms per note). That will make each note hold over to the next creating a smoother roll effect.

    2. There are patches from various synth that record cymbal rolls - like Roland JV Orchestra expansion card. One problem with most patches is that although they recorded the cymbal roll, they cannot control the speed of the crescendo. But they are pretty good and I've used it many times in the past in many of my pieces (Roland).

    3. Program the synth patch yourself. What I have tried in the past (in the good old days before good patches came out) is to find one patch that simulates as close as possible to the cymbal roll. In my old SY99, I found that the reverse cymbal patch is the closest. I edited it to tweak the sound till I get what I wanted. Then I program the mod wheel to control the volume which then lets you control the speed of crescendo. If you add filter, you can also add brightness as the volume increase. I've used it many times in the past including in live situations that tricked most listeners (first piece I performed live with this kind of editing many years ago was St Elmo's Fire and they couldn't tell it was actually a reverse cymbal patch).

    4. Samples are the best. Many samples are also recorded like the patches which does not allow you to change speed. However, they usually record in different speeds which let you choose which one you need. My cymbal sample set has at least 10 suspended cymbal rolls played in different styles and speeds. So I choose which one I want. Also, some samples can be programmed to use mod wheels/other controls to adjust speed of crescendo, complete with getting brighter with crescendo. The pro about sample is that the brightness is not done with filter but actually cross-fading of different cymbal playing at different volume. That means, when the mod wheel is at zero position, the cymbal is playing the soft (p) sample; as you move the mod wheel up, the sample switches over to another sample that is recorded louder (smoothly). This gives the most realistic effects. Then they will need to add in a release sample. Release samples are samples that are triggered when you release a key. This will accurately simulate the dying off of the cymbal roll when one stops playing it.

    I've used all the above methods before. The only one I haven't tried is the programed samples. My sample set are simple and not programmed and I don't have the time to program them. But I can use my 10 suspended cymbal set in most situations without problems. The most realistic is of course, samples.

    What hardware/software do you have that has cymbal sounds?

  3. #3

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    Wow.. Sounds complicated.. Hmm.. I'm rather new to such stuff so not very familiar.. Currently using logic audio platinium as my sequencer n recording using general midi sounds.. So it reali sounds v crap. What do you suggest I do?? Get a sample? If so, where can i obtain dem?? Sorri if my qns r noob.. cos i am.. thks..

  4. #4

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    I do cymbal rolls all the time in my arrangements. What I do is slow the BPM to really slow about 20-40 bpm, start recording the sequence... playing it at real time slow speed during recording... (this is for the human touch, the inconsistencies)... you can play the dynamics (velocity) in... do not record under quantised mode... walla... you are done... add a reverb and slight delay... bring the bpm back to your original speed... you'll have a realistic cymbal roll... takes abit of practice but once you get the hang of it, then start to play it in a relistic manner... I do that for most of my music. Hope it helps...

    But this works with good sound modules... I am afraid using GM sounds will sound crap no matter what.... easiest bet is get a cymbal row sample or invest in a module/synthesizer.


  5. #5

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    The easiest way is to get Roland JV1010 then get the Orchestra Expansion card. In fact, before I sold my JV1080, I got the orchestra card for mainly 3 instruments - the strings, the solo oboe and the suspended cymbals (I got the Orchestra 2 just for the flute sounds - but that's another story).

    If you want to experiment with what you already have (ie GM), we can try method 2. I can guide you step by step. First, let's confirm that you want the SUSPENDED CYMBAL ROLLS, not the usual cymbal rolls played by a drummer on the drum kit. That means you want the "sssshhhhhhhhh" sound instead of the roll that you hear individual hits by the drum sticks (ie like the roll I used in my music "Missing You" - click my Soundclick link). Is that the sound you want? If you can record one cymbal hit sound from the GM kit you have, it will be great. If the sound is very short (ie doesn't "ring" for a long time), it may be more of a challenge.

    Sonicbrat, the method you described works for the standard drum cymbals but not the suspended cymbals. Suspended cymbals uses felt head mallets instead of the usual hard drum sticks used in drum kits. So you get soft attacks and you can hardly hear individual hits.

  6. #6

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    OK. The simplest method I can think of. Cost you 4.99USD. Sonomic has samples/wav/loops etc.

    Go to this link:

    You'll find nice cymbal rolls that won't burn a hole in your pocket. But if you still want to experiment with your GM sounds, I'm happy to help. Nothing like learning it the hard way!

  7. #7

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    Hi Cheez, that's why I said it won't work with GM... it can be used for suspended roll (though I have no idea about percussions) with the drum kits from KORG Triton which has the felt mallet hit sounds (cymbal kit)

    You can listen to mine in this post, this is the standard roll (I guess); comes in about half way through the song...
    ... which I did using the above method mentioned... I haven't get into ADSR adjustment of the the sounds but I thought I won't mention it yet... BTW the mix was done in consideration for me playing the piano live during a show so I "emptied" certain frequency ranges for it (so it might sound a little empty in certain freq ranges)...

    Anyway nice music Cheez...

  8. #8

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    Oh I see. Interesting though that Triton has single hits felt mallets cymbals. Not easy to find elsewhere!

    By the way, I can't access your link. Probably just because of the country I'm in now.

  9. #9

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    One problem with most patches is that although they recorded the cymbal roll, they cannot control the speed of the crescendo. But they are pretty good and I've used it many times in the past in many of my pieces (Roland).
    i've gotten around this before by using time compression/expansion on the pretty well as long as you dont push it too far.
    has nice cymbal/drum samples at a very reasonable price. i'll be making a few orders soon. great customer service as well.

    for their cymbal samples:
    All cymbal download sets includes light, medium, and hard crashes, cymbal clutches/chokes, flourishes, and other vital samples for unbelievably real touches that can simply not be programmed.

  10. #10

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    Unsane, the drumwerks link look interesting. However, the cymbal looks like crash cymbals and doesn't have the particular felt mallet suspended cymbal roll - unless I missed it somewhere. It's also interesting that they are offering samples as many as 60 to more than 100 velocity/sample. That's a lot. The problem is that it is wav - and so programming all those velocity layers can be quite a task!

    The other thing, unsane, is that time compression works only if you are working on the raw wav format. If we work on midi, it's very troublesome since it will mean actually rendering that particular sound into wav first by recording it then using time compression. It is also impossible if we need to play it in live situations when we need to control the crescendo of the patch in real-time. For loop/wav-based composers, I guess it is no problem.

    For drums, the other good muiltisample is from Wizoo ( Their platinum drum series is downloadable and very good. Good thing is that it comes in different formats not just wav, and so it fits into different samplers (eg: Giga, EXS24, HALion etc). Don't need to program. Too bad they don't have suspended cymbals either. But they do have loops and other stuffs.

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