See How Zildjian Cymbals Are Made In a Fascinating 10-Minute Short Film

In terms of brand recog­ni­tion, one has to admit it is remark­able that the name Zildjian—stamped on mil­lions of cym­bals worldwide—has such wide cul­tur­al cur­ren­cy. The prod­uct this com­pa­ny makes is not one most peo­ple get very close to out­side of a drum kit in a grade school music room. You nev­er see Zild­jian adver­tise­ments, unless you are a musi­cian, and you won’t encounter a Zild­jian cym­bal at your local all-in-one big box store. Yet Zild­jian cym­bals might even be more famous than icon­ic brands of elec­tric gui­tars like Fend­er and Gib­son or amps like Mar­shall and Vox.

Why is that? It’s easy, the com­pa­ny was found­ed 400 years ago in Con­stan­tino­ple and has remained in the Zild­jian fam­i­ly since an alchemist named Avedis was giv­en the sur­name by Sul­tan Osman II in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry. In all that time, Mozart praised Zild­jians (then just called “Turk­ish cym­bals”), they appeared at London’s Great Exhi­bi­tion, and they have been essen­tial to the kits of jazz and rock drum­mers for as long as both gen­res have exist­ed. It will nev­er be pos­si­ble to buy this kind of pub­lic­i­ty.

How has Zild­jian, who incor­po­rat­ed in the U.S. in 1929, stayed in busi­ness so long and con­tin­ued to main­tain such a rep­u­ta­tion for qual­i­ty? It’s all down, they say, to a secret recipe, passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, descend­ed from Avedis him­self, whose name graces the Avedis Vartere­sian Melt­ing Room, where Zild­jian cast­ings are made. You can watch what hap­pens to those cast­ings in the fas­ci­nat­ing 10-minute video above. “Only 4 fac­to­ry employ­ees and the own­ers of the com­pa­ny are allowed inside” the Melt­ing Room, notes the video’s YouTube page, “due to their knowl­edge of the ‘Zild­jian Secret.’”

We do not learn the secret recipe, nor do we learn how a trade secret can be kept for 400 years, but we do see Zild­jians heat­ed, rolled out, shaped, cut, ham­mered, lath­ed, fin­ished, and, final­ly, “stamped with the Zild­jian Logo as well as the model/size of the cym­bal.” It’s gen­er­al­ly pret­ty cool to watch unre­mark­able, every­day prod­ucts go through the many stages of a fac­to­ry pro­duc­tion process. Watch­ing the Zild­jian process adds a lay­er of his­tor­i­cal leg­end and intrigue, and the allure of see­ing raw mate­ri­als trans­formed into objects of visu­al and aur­al beau­ty.

See Zildjian’s YouTube page for a time­stamped com­men­tary on each step in the pro­duc­tion.

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Zild­jian Cym­bals Were Cre­at­ed by an Alchemist in the Ottoman Empire, Cir­ca 1618

Vis­it an Online Col­lec­tion of 61,761 Musi­cal Instru­ments from Across the World

The Neu­ro­science of Drum­ming: Researchers Dis­cov­er the Secrets of Drum­ming & The Human Brain

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

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