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Thread: what/how exactly are hi hats used?

  1. #1
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    what/how exactly are hi hats used?

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    Hi guys,

    This is probably gonna sound like stupid question but it's been on my mind, since i started producing in the last month or so. Anyways, what exactly are and how are hi hats used? Like i am confused with the whole open and closed hi hats thing. I have been told that they almost essential for a drum beat ( i am looking to make hip hop/deep house and garage beats). I just don't understand how they work or the point of them. When i try to input them into a beat of mine, it just sounds sooo off and like almost forced like, if you get where i am coming from.

    Could somebody help me out, please?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Hi-hats are a pair of cymbals that are mounted on a foot controlled stand that opens and closes the hats - supposedly invented by Buddy Rich but more probably invented by Barney Walberg

    They are mostly used for time keeping and subdividing the beat into two equal or unequal parts - style dictates which of these we use. the use of open hats is to provide a swishing type sound and closing the hats after the open hats have been hit gives a unique sound usually associated with jazz, striptease and disco and funk

    see this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hi-hat for more insight
    Last edited by bandcoach; 12-05-2014 at 08:36 PM. Reason: Guy -> Rich
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    As a semi-producer I would also like to add that hi-hats are usually played in a continued/continuous pattern through 1-4 bars of music and can then repeat (that's the easy way).

    For example, try making a beat first with the kick and the snare alone. It doesn't matter, just play to the beat starting with the kick right on the downbeat. Play it with the metronome so you can follow the time ticks. Now after you have a structure to a 4 bar pattern that repeats, just play with the hi-hats to the beat as the kick and drum are playing. Play it to the beat for a moment until you find a pattern you like.

    Now another thing I forgot to mention was the pattern resolution (i think it's called?). What I mean is you can make the program automatically "snap" or quantize the notes you record to either 1/8th's, 1/16th's, etc. Actually, you will likely use 1/8th's or 1/16th's, you can go 32nd's, but the only way you can really play a note 32 times in a bar accurately is with an arpeggiator.

    Which brings up another helpful bit of advise, try plugging an arpeggiator to your drum sequencer/machine. Then it can play a hi-hat repeatedly for you by holding the note on your keyboard/pad. What are you using anyway?

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    I kind of get what you're saying I think.

    For me, my best hats seem to be when I don't use the step sequencer, this is usually because a sample I'm making a beat around forces me to put them on "and's" and at the front and back of the beats.

    That takes away that forced and stiff kind of "stock" sound to the hats, also throwing in open hats, half open hats, changing the notes, delays etc.

    Another thing I feel a lot of the time at least with samples is when I put bass and kicks etc. on it the sample kind of starts "talking" to me as in you hear subtle little noises that almost lead you, it's almost as if they say "add this" to the song.
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  5. #5
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    Use 2 Hi-Hats & 2 Open-Hats is my advice.
    I always use 2 Kicks & 2 Snares to.
    I always sequence 1 of the 2 on every 1/3/5/7/9/11/13/15 step.
    And the the other hi-hat on the 2/4/6/8/10/12/14/16 step.

    first record everything with 1 kick/1 snare/1 hi-hat.
    Than re-edit them in the piano roll by mouse by putting the other ghost hi-hats on the 2/4/8/12 steps etc while deleting the first hi-hats in those places.

    Makes it sound more Live.
    Last edited by mark1234; 12-29-2013 at 10:24 PM.
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  6. #6
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    that or use the secret sauce of moused in events

    randomise the position (+/- 10 ticks) and the velocity (+/-5) of each note - instant human feel change the numbers to create your own groove factor
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    hey guys,

    Thanks for all the replies. I have spent hours just listening to tracks from all genre's trying to spot the relationship of the hi hats in a beat and i now get it. Quite simple really but hey, at least i know their purpose now. Thanks!!

  8. #8
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    Yeah, it sounds like you've got it now, but the simplest explanation is that the hats are a time-keeping aid and essential rhythmic element for the drummer.

    But even easier to understand than a simple one-sentence explanation would be watching and listening to some good live drummers; search YouTube, go to a club, or even go to a church that has a live band... If you watch some jazz, rock, funk, country, reggae, gospel, or rap drummers (like ?uestlove), hi-hats start to make sense real fast.

    Programmed/sequenced beats (even the most technically-oriented trap or electronic music styles) are essentially just imitating live players, so knowing something about drumming will only help you make better music.

    GJ

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