When preparing yourself, and your kit, for Sunday, how many cymbals should you pack? You may think this is a mute question – take whatever you own! Set up as much as you can! Use what the church has and your own! After-all, a good drummer has loads of cymbals, dont they?
In reality, each cymbal you have has so many sounds you may get away with fewer than you think. It’s quicker to setup and even quicker to pack up too. My typical setup, whether in a small worship set or on the big stage, aside from hats, is a 14in crash and a 17″ crash/ride. THAT’S IT! This setup looks far from imposing and yet I’m confortable with the variety of sounds that I get. To be fair, the 14 is paper thin, and the 17 is as thick as a car bonnet, but this gives me a huge range of timbres to play with. I also have an old plug chain that I can put on the 17 for an extra sizzle. By using the whole surface of the cymbals you will be suprised by how many sounds you can produce.
When choosing your setup you also need to consider what will be required of you in the service and who else is in the band. If you’re playing alongside a violin and acoustic guitar, 10 cymbals may look a little overpowering and loud, even when they are not being played! Conversly, not having any way to grow with the band sound, may be helped by having an extra cymbal or two. You should also think about what it looks like to be surrounded by a wall of cymbals and how (in)appropriate it may be to be swishing and flaming your way though the set. Consider your audience/congregation and what they see when they look at the band. It may be that your band sound needs the range of cymbals but be careful, I’ve never heard a drummer who improves simply by adding another cymbal to their setup.
Also, don’t forget that your high-hat is versatile too. Using a beater on an open hat is a very usable sound, so is using the bottom cymbal. Use different sticks – brushes, brooms, hotrods, beaters.
Obviously a lot of this is personal preference but do take into account your surroundings, your band, your setup time, the blend of sounds amongst your kit. Most of all, remember that you are first of all there to worship, to be transparent and help others to be the same.
Our new guest blogger Paul Twelftree is part of Holy Trinity Bormpton (HTB). He trained at Trinity College of Music and has worked within the professional/christian scene for over 15 years originally primarily on trumpet but now playing drums and percussion with various churches, bands as well as teaching. Involved with Pslam Drummers and on remixes for them and other artists. Currently wotking on a chrisitan remix/mash album