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Cymbal Choking

Easy Drumming That Sounds Hard

Cymbal choking is a dynamic drumming technique used to abruptly silence the sound of a cymbal. Cymbal Choking is often overlooked by most free drum lessons-based websites and educational products for drummers. With this free drum lesson, Jared Falk fills this void by teaching you how to choke cymbals, and how to use them within drum beats and as song enders.

Cymbal choking can be used for accents – emphasizing particular rhythmic figures or signaling the conclusion of a section of a song – or as a way to match other instruments’ sustain. Cymbal choking was actually the most used technique for playing on cymbals way back in the day. Chick Webb and Baby Dodds were two of the major practitioners of this style. By the time we hit the late 1920s, guys like Gene Krupa and Dave Tough began letting the sound of their cymbals naturally fade out instead of choking them after each stroke – which is actually the way most crash, splash and China cymbals are played today.

There are two different ways of choking a cymbal. With the first one, you choke a cymbal with the opposite hand from the one you strike it with. This works well for cymbals that are within reach of both hands. With the second one, you play and choke a cymbal using the same hand. This is the only way to choke cymbals that are far off to one side of the drum set.

Cymbal choking can be tricky to perform, and should be done carefully so you don’t end up injuring yourself – much like Jared does in the video! You can use this dynamic drumming technique within drum beats, drum fills, and drum solos. So you can actually take all the drum beats and drum fills from this website and use cymbal choking within them.

To start incorporating cymbal choking into drum beats right away, use it instead of hi-hat strokes on the free drum lesson “Beginner Punk Rock Drum Beats“. For drum fill applications, check the free drum lesson “Intermediate Double Bass Drum Fills” and choke some of the crash strokes you’ll find within each pattern. We’ve also put together a fun little video with behind the scenes footage from this lesson’s recording process. So get your favorite drink; sit back and just relax while you watch the video “Cymbal Choking – Behind The Scenes“.


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