I encountered the following paragraph in a textbook for Beginners:

Sometimes the band plays in town.
A woman at the back goes crash on the cymbals.
And they always sparkle in the sun.

The second sentence is a mystery to me. Could you please explain what the author means by it?

  • 1
    It might be easier to understand if you put some quotation marks in it: A woman at the back goes "crash" on the cymbals - meaning, the cymbals make a crashing sound Oct 23, 2014 at 19:27
  • If I'm not wrong, this is an example of onomatopoeia.
    – Praveen
    Oct 24, 2014 at 3:53

3 Answers 3


One should say that the standard neutral locution is to say someone "plays the cymbals".

The phrase "goes crash on the cymbals" is colorful, in a childlike way. It is meant to convey the idea that the sound is loud.

The man with the stick went bang on the drum.

In other words, the man struck the drum with his stick, producing a loud "bang!" He banged the drum. She crashes the cymbals.

It can also be used intransitively:

Then the elevator went whoosh and we were at the top of the building in no time flat.


Sometimes the band plays in town.

There is a band of musicians in town. Each musician is contributes a different part to the music, and plays a different instrument (or maybe sings, etc).

A woman at the back goes crash on the cymbals.

One of the members of the band, who is sitting at the back, is responsible for playing the cymbals (maybe there's also a guy in front who's responsible for playing the saxophone, and a gal over on the left side who's on the piano).

Now, at one point during the performance, when the music calls for it, this musician, a woman, who sits at the back of the band and plays the cymbals, suddenly crashes them together, producing the loud, sharp sound characteristic of cymbals (which acts somewhat like "punctuation" in a musical piece).

And they always sparkle in the sun.

The cymbals, all made of brass, glimmer brightly as the sun shines on them.

The effect of the bright, varigated spots of light reflecting off the cymbals is reminiscent of their bright, sharp, reverberating sound.

woman holding a pair of shiny cymbals, ready to smash them together

  • 3
    It's always interesting to look at sentences like this one and realise that to someone who isn't already familiar with it, it could conceivably mean that the woman is either going to have an accident ('crash') or go to sleep ('crash') on the cymbals.
    – Damien H
    Oct 23, 2014 at 23:11

To add to the two existing answers, I'll just quote from the Collins Dictionary:

You use go when indicating that something makes or produces a sound. For example, if you say that something goes 'bang', you mean it produces the sound 'bang'.
⇒ [V with sound] She stopped in front of a painting of a dog and she started going 'woof woof'.
⇒ [V with sound] The button on his jeans went POP.

The construction is used widely for emphasis, as in this great song:

Can your friends do this?
Do your friends do that?
Do your friends pull this out their little hat?
Can your friends go, poof?
Well, looky here
Can your friends go, Abracadabra, let 'er rip
And then make the sucker disappear?

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