Hours 26 – 27: Bowed Cymbals

Hello! Back again. This evening I took a number of cymbals (the drumkit kind), and my trusty cello bow, to the 4th floor of my university building. I’ve played with bowing cymbals a little before – but today I decided I wanted to capture them properly, in a cool sonic environment.

In our university building, we have a two stairwells, 4 floors high, that have an epic reverb. The floors and walls are largely bare, and one whole side is windows, meaning the sound waves have nowhere to hide – and the result is this massive verb. I decided I wanted to capture the bowed cymbal in this fantastic ambient space, as it’d help to draw out a lot of the harmonics of the sounds produced (and elongate the sound in a pleasant way).


I used my standard setup, 414’s in mid/side, into the sound devices 664. I also put a Neumann U87 on omni about 10-15 meters away, to mix into the sound as I see fit. It captured a little more reverb, and the sound at a distance. I had initially intended to go A-B with the 414’s, but I found that there wasn’t enough focus in the stereo field – so I switched to M/S. I had the pair of 414’s maybe about a meter from the sound source, as I wanted to try and capture as much of the detail of the sound as I could. Thanks to jack martin for the ‘action’ shots below.

So the sound was pretty sweet. It instantly evoked that horror movie esq feel, and i’m definitely going to be using in my sound design work in the future. I think, from a critical standpoint, my only real problem with the sound is the presence of the scatchy bow – when the bow doesn’t connect properly and vibrate the cymbal, it makes a kind of weird raspy noise. It’s kinda cool but I think were I to use the recordings in my work, i’d try and automate that out, as much as I could.

Anyway, here’s what a cymbal being played with a bow sounds like. As usual, pretty raw from the record, other than the mid/side processing, a bit of balancing between mics and editing up some cool bits. Enjoy!

So that’s it for now, as always, thanks for reading!



Hours 26 – 27: Bowed Cymbals

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