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Published on August 9th, 2018 | by Alan Cross

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Attention drummer: Here’s the fascinating story of Zildjian cymbals

If you play drums, you fall into one of three camps when it comes to cymbals: Paiste, the Swiss manufacturer or Zildjian, the company with roots in Turkey that extend back 400 years. (There’s also Sabian, but they’re a Zildjian offshoot. That’s a whole ‘nother story.”

The New York Times looks at the history of Zildjian.

The surest route to a drummer’s heart? Cymbals.

“You can have all the swirling harmony in the world,” the drummer Brian Blade said, “but only the cymbals can put you over the top of that mountain you’re trying to climb. The tension is the beauty of it, like riding a wave until you need it to crest.”

Mr. Blade, who is best known for playing with the country music singer Emmylou Harris and the jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, said he thinks of his cymbals as an extension of himself, though he also gives credit for his distinctive sound to the instruments he plays: Zildjians. He has endorsed the brand for 20 years, just one in a long, diverse roster of musicians to do so.

Zildjian was incorporated in the United States in 1929. But the company’s relationship with drummers, and drumming itself, dates back much further: 400 years to be precise, to 1618, when a secret casting process resulted in the creation of a new bronze alloy for the court of Sultan Osman II, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire.

Even if you’re not a drummer, you need to keep reading.

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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