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hihats and cymbals are.....problematic

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:39 pm
by simmerdown
...not in general

just mine

any one want to drop some high-hat theory/science?

general thoughts, or relation specifically to dub/reggea, dubstep and hip hop?

no shortage of hits and sounds here btw, im talking about how to use them properly...not a drummer atall, so this Q has been bugging me for years

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:06 pm
by regretfullySaid
You'll have to give some audio examples.

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:49 pm
by dtrue17
HiHat Theory? I don't know about that, but I can give you this:

In rock/funk/jazz and even electro grooves, the drummer uses the hihat as a way to add expressions to a beat without interfering with the main pulse. The kick/snare's main job is to establish time. While comping and filling can be used for transitions, or to spice things up, they have to be used appropriately, and usually sparingly. Hihats, on the other hand, help layer the pulse, but are used to comp and fill when the kick or snare would be inappropriate. They 'fill in the gaps'. Without being so vague: deep, powerful grooves emphasize kick and snare comping 'n filling with a rock-steady hihat beat to keep the beat structured. On the flip side, softer, more colorful grooves have the kick and snare emphasizing Time, while the hihat is used for expressions and fills. There's obviously some grooves that mix these together.

In short, use the hihat to keep a steady background time when it's needed (especially when a lot is going on), but when there are holes in the drum track, or if the snare and kick shouldn't be used, throw in some twists with the hats.

No clue if that helps. Sounds like a rant, ha :)

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:00 pm
by yur2die4
First, always study other tracks.

Hats can be of different varieties (as you seem to have a good deal of options). You can use them to embellish a beat. Remind people of what kind of interplay you want them to feel. Sometimes you want a swing, or you want to hit soft, with the intention of emphasizing a harder hit. Or maybe you want lots of wacky off time syncopations interacting amongst each other. Hats give you a clue on all that.

They also emphasize the drive of a track. They can be categorized in a ride category. Your track can be at 100 bpm, but hats can decide how it Feels.

Common practice for drummers is hitting on just the quarter notes, just the 8ths, or just the 16th. Within those you can have some off or vary dynamics. And mayybe sneak in something from a finer quantization (at the risk of losing focus, but possibly embellishing and spicing up the situation).

Varying dynamics is huge. When you jump really high, you crouch down first. Your timing could be off too. In hats that could be represented as quiet hats sneaking up to a hard one. Then from the hard one you decide if you want silent space or more hats. A swing or some triplets could add to the 'struggle' of getting to that point. Then there is the timing as spacing. 1/3? 1/6? 1/8? Etc. or varying degrees of groove. Hand drawn is always exciting too!!!

I swear there is plenty more, I just can't focus right now haha. Start with it on quarters, eighths, etc and play around from there. Make sure to experiment with dynamics

Edit: after those basics, I'd lean about the clave beat too! Quite handy to understand. Which reminds me of a link..

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:29 pm
by Samaritan Sound
Find drum grooves you like and transcribe them. After a few, you'll start to get an idea of what to do.

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:14 pm
by regretfullySaid
I concur with dtrue's rant. Going beyond that, hi-hats can be a central part to the personality of the beat. If you think of how a person moves and walks, the kick would be the feet/step, the snar/clap would be the hands, but the high-hats, I think of the state of mind the person is in, maybe even some hip and headnod movement. For instance, if the high hat is just quantized 1/8th, it's pretty standard, normal guy walking/thinking.
16th's is a little anxiety or rush, with purpose.

Now if the hi hat is just like on the even beats, and not hitting the same time as the kick, it's kind of like a pimp walk. Like o=kick, x=snar and .=hi-hat o.x.o.x.

but since you want to tell a story through a song, you want to switch up the personality or motion, so you do a roll to accent the end of the 8th bar or go into the chorus, as it'd be sort of like a welling up of feeling that's been portrayed previously in time, like . . ................
so you could think of using the high-hat as sort of like what mentality of the mood. Stiff, rushed, hurried, chill, wacky, it depends on the relationships between the kick, snar, and hat, how they interact with each other, between playing together on the same beat to adjacent beats to having their own space in the beat; the beat meaning like 8ths/16ths, not the whole drum track.

Another thing that fits with the person walking analogy, is the kick is typically in the low to mid area just like the legs. The snare is in the mid to highs, like the hands, and the hats upper mids to upper highs, like the head.

Also, I've gotten into the habit of straight up hi-pass filtering hats maybe around 4k. I didn't think that would work because I thought it would take away from the attack, especially if it's actually the stick hitting the hat, but that hasn't been a problem, and it really opens up more space in the mids.

A song has more personality when the hats get switched up or compliment other musical and vocal accents instead of just staying on 8ths or 16ths the whole time. Experiment with 2 bars going from tiplet 8th to 8th to triplet 16th to 16th. A little swing can go a long way...

Also, depending on the hat, you could just use a open hat for both the closed and open high hat. you just automate in simpler or sampler a mix between the decay/sustain/release times and you can get a natural roll of the high hat goingfrom very closed to very open (old skool newb trick)
And don't forget to use the fucking velocity.

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:07 pm
by simmerdown
Yeh! some deep thoughts to go into my next session

no examples really to show shadx, usually i throw up my hands after a bit, then reach for my loopstack and.... :oops:

great stuff! nothing is too simple for me, some great suggestion in here, maybe some things that will help others too

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:18 pm
by regretfullySaid
Well I overlooked the theory part and was thinking about specific examples, so that was my fault. But it got me thinking about the person/walking analogy, because I didn't think about it like that before until I started reading replies, but it makes sense. Because hi-hats usually aren't as dominant as the kick/snar, but that doesn't make them less important. I think because of the nature of them they are a good analogy for something like impulsive thoughts/feelings mostly reacting to the environment that the kick/snar provides, so they are significant enough to define the personality of the beat and/or song. I think they get left alone too much. And since its frequency spectrum is more in the heady/airy area maybe it's more likely to resonate and/or influence along the lines of the listeners subconscious rhythm, but maybe that's stretching it. I think there should be a relationship between the kick, snare and hats and them having a conversation with each other.

Randomly enough Da Brat's "That's What I'm Lookin For" comes to mind. I used to get that beat stuck in my head all the time. Probly a Timbaland beat.

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:28 pm
by simmerdown
that was theory though, that was all good, insightful
yeh i had someone give me another analogy

kick/ snare is like the heartrhythm....and the hihats are like the blood flowing, different for each vibe you might want to create...(which did not help in a practical sense lol)

i think im going to hook up a looper and try just playing the hh parts (on keys), see how that works, bc i can hear it in my head kinda what i want, its when i start drawing blocks and such manually that i start to yawn...playing them would cover the velocity and offtime/human feel part too

woooop, thank ya'll, so far super good

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:38 am
by dancing Ray
Set up a simple straight groove ->

kick on 1 & 3
snare on 2 & 4
hats on 8th notes

Turn the grid off

Select all the hihat offbeats (the &s) and move them some ticks (some more or some less) backwards off the grid.

Compare with them being straight on the grid.

Try the same with moving the hats forwards.

I find the effect amazing. Subtle but amazing.

Post your findings in this thread. I´m curious how others would describe the effect ;-).

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:37 am
by pepezabala
try using two or three different hat-sounds interchanging with each hit. drop a velocity plug on the hihat and give it some random velocity. Extract the hihats from your drum rack and apply grooves.

instead of writing/painting hihat patterns, record yourself playing them with a drumpad. If you don't have a drumpad, just play with your fingers on your desk, record that and extrac the groove form it - this results in a midi-clip that you can then use for your hats. If your playing sucks, then decrease the bpm while recording your patterns. now it doesn't suck so hard, isn't it?

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:34 pm
by AceLuby
Get a cheap hi-hat set and record yourself playing those over your track. You'll get a much better 'live' feel to it than using MIDI. Each hit will be completely unique and you can quantize them later if need be.

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:04 pm
by simmerdown
been using my nanoKey as a pad...been working great

progress continues since this thread, thx all!

(but dont stop the suggestions,lol)

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:12 pm
by dtrue17
I've heard some mention of a random velocity generator. But a tip that I'd like to provide is (and this is only good for 16th note hats or faster 8th note hats):

go into the hihat beat, randomize the velocities through whatever method you feel like, then bias the velocity toward one of the imaginary drummer's hands. This is because realistic drummers don't have identical strength in each arm. Usually the stronger arm will be the drummer's dominant hand, which will be used on the downbeats for an 8th beat (or 8th notes for a 16th beat). Lots of great drummers will spend hours and hours (and days) refining their skills so that each hand has matched strength, but that subtle strength difference between hands never goes away. That's why a bias (by ever so slightly increasing velocity of alternating hits) will make the sound much more natural! (at least to me, and I've been drumming for 12 years)

Re: hihats suck

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:13 pm
by H20nly
*bookmark* 8)