(pronounced "kro-tah'-les"), sometimes called antique cymbals
, are percussion instruments
consisting of small, tuned
bronze or brass disks. Each is about 4 inches in diameter with a flat top surface and a nipple on the base. They are commonly played by being struck with hard mallets
. However, they may also be played by striking two disks together in the same manner as finger cymbals
, or by bowing. Their sound is rather like a small tuned bell
, only with a much brighter sound, and a much longer resonance.
Modern crotales are arranged chromatically and have a range of up to two octaves. They are typically available in sets (commonly one octave), but may also be purchased individually. Crotales are treated as transposing instruments; music for crotales is written two octaves lower than the sounding pitch.
One of the earliest uses of crotales in the orchestral repertoire is Claude Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. The chamber music composition From Me Flows What You Call Time by Toru Takemitsu features crotales in a prominent role. In Joseph Schwantner's ...and the mountains rising nowhere the composer calls for the instrument to be bowed with a double bass bow, producing an eerie, sustained glass harmonica-like effect.
In Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, the score calls for two crotales in A-flat and B-flat. Stravinsky's Les Noces ends on a plaintive series of chords struck by a combination of chimes and crotales.
Crotales are also found in prehistory. The National Museum of Ireland has several examples on display dating from the late Bronze Age (1200-800BC) which were found in a hoard alongside various brass wind instruments.
Use in popular music
- In the Rush song "YYZ", drummer Neil Peart uses crotales in the beginning of the song.
- In the Yes song "Awaken", Alan White uses crotales during the harp and church organ section in the middle of the song. During the 9012-Live tour and subsequent tours, White uses them to play the intro to "Changes".
- In the Dream Theater song "A Change of Seasons", Mike Portnoy uses crotales in a break in the song (around 2:06) as well the beginning of the song "New Millennium".
- Drummer Glenn Kotche of Wilco makes frequent use of crotales on several recordings and incorporates the instrument into his drum set.
- Drummer Stewart Copeland of The Police uses crotales within the song "Wrapped Around Your Finger".