Cymbals are available in different sizes with diameters of 16“ to 22“, and take on various forms and sound characteristics, such as ride cymbals, crash cymbals, splash cymbals, China cymbals or sizzle cymbals. A pair of cymbals (cymbals a-due) is sounded by striking one plate against the other, while suspended cymbals are struck with sticks or (felt) mallets. The distinctive, piercing sound of cymbals is easily heard over a full fortissimo-playing orchestra. For this reason cymbals are used very economically for punctuating highlights or accents in the music.
The triangle (in latin: triangulum) is named for its form of an equilateral triangle with an open end on one corner. The instrument is played with a short steel rod, and despite its small size its sound is even more piercing than the cymbals’ and can be easily heard over the full orchestra.
An interesting sonic addition to the cymbals is the waterphone, a unique musical instrument that produces hauntingly ethereal sounds similar to the calls of humpback whales or the eerie sounds produced by the theremin, evoking mystery and suspense.