Tips for Adding Dynamics to Programmed Hi-Hats

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Tips for Adding Dynamics to Programmed Hi-Hats

What’s going on, guys?

Symphony here with The Pro Audio Files, and
today, we’re going to be talking about dynamics

when it comes to programming hi-hats, depending
on the style of record I’m doing.

Whether it’s a Pop record, country record,
Hip-Hop record, I might choose to use a more

live hi-hat sound.

In a lot of those genres, there’s actually
someone sitting there, playing the drums out,

or they’re using a hi-hat loop, or they’re
programming their own hi-hat loop.

So I’m going to show you a couple of tricks
you can use to add some dynamics to your hi-hats.

So the first thing you’re going to do is pick
live sounding hi-hats as if they’re from the

same drum kit, and if you don’t have that
option, anything that sounds kind of similar.

So I’ve got four hats here from my homie —


And I’ve got an open hat, I’ve got more of
a longer hat, I’ve got a loose hat, I’ve got

two short hats.

The next thing is think about how a drummer
would play these out.

He or she might be more aggressive on the
attack and start with more of a sharp hat

like that, or more of a loose hat.

You’ve got to actually watch some YouTube
videos, or actually have seen someone actually

using the drums to kind of understand.

And even if you’re sitting down at a drum
set at Guitar Center or something, and go

and mess with the drums.

See what it sounds like when the hat’s open,
when it’s closed, when you step on the pedal

and hit it a certain way.

There’s all types of different things you
can do with hi-hats.

So my suggestion is to research and check
out how these drummers are actually playing

their hats, because it’ll help you apply that
knowledge to your program.

I’ve got this drum loop here that I programmed.

Very basic drum loop, so this is what it sounds

[drum loop]

Very basic drum loop.

So this is at 100 bpm, so if you’re new to
programming hi-hats, or if you’re just getting

started at this type of thing, you might want
to slow it down.

So let’s do this, we can slow this 100 bpm
loop down to maybe, like…

70 bpm, right?

So now it’ll sound like this.

[drum loop, slowed down]

So what I’ll do is I’ll turn the metronome
on, and I’ll also turn the velocity all the

way up.

You can always adjust the velocity later,
but right now, I just want to play out the

idea that I had.

[playing drums in]

So I’ve laid out a couple of hi-hats here,
and what I’m going to do is I’m going to speed

it back up.

[drum loop, sped up]

So I’ve got my hi-hats, right?

And what I’ll do is I’ll take these all…


There’s a lot of variation going between the
open hats and the closed hats.

So now I want to make it sound like someone
is actually playing behind it by adjusting

the dynamics and the velocity.

So in that pattern, I’m going to take these
hats, and I’m just going to lower the velocity

on almost every single one of them, just the
same, but also, I’m going to go through and

adjust, you know, just to give it a little
bit more of a variation.

[drums, adjusted velocity]

Also notice that I haven’t quantized these.

I think quantization can really, really mess
up your groove, so I’m going to leave these

unquantized, and I might even nudge them a
little bit more.


Now what this does is it creates a little
bit more swing in your groove.

So I’m just going to loop this throughout,
and now, my eight bar loop sounds like this.


You’ll get bored of that little two bar loop
with the hi-hats, because it doesn’t sound

like, you know, when someone is actually playing
the drums, they’re just doing a two bar loop,

they’re actually playing the drums through.

Go back and add more open hats.

What I can do is actually go in and gate some
of this open hi-hat.

[drum loop]

What I did was add a little variety to the
actual hi-hat loop.

Now you’ve got a hi-hat loop you can use.

You’ve nudged it a little bit, and the next
thing you can do is put some transient design

on it.

So I’m going to take those hats, and I’m going
to print them to audio.

So now that I’ve printed those hi-hats to
audio, what I’m going to do is pull up a transient

design plugin.

So I’m going to use Transient Master
and put that on the hi-hats, and what I’ll

do is just go through the presets and see
if there’s anything that I like.

[drum mix]

So what I did was I ended up closing the hi-hat
a little bit more, just to give it a little

more of a groove.

Another thing you can actually do is layer
the drums, and that’ll also help the entire

thing glue together.

So what I’ll do is I’ll add a —

[sample playback]

This clack thing.

And the next thing I’ll do is I’ll add a little
bongo loop to it to see if I can glue all

of that together.


I’ll use that, that sounds kind of cool.

I’ll just chop it right there.

So don’t be afraid to nudge these things around.

I’ve got these loops here, and they sound
a little bit off, but I don’t really give

a shit because it sounds dope.


I might even nudge these hats a little bit
more, just to do it.

So there you have it, guys.

Programming some dynamics into your hi-hats
and making your drum loops sound a little

bit tighter, and adding some percussion.

Because fuck it.

So that about wraps it up for me, guys.

I hope you guys learned something.

Shout out to The Pro Audio Files for having

If you have any questions, comments, feel
free to hit me up in the comments section,

or email bausymphony@gmail, or on social media.

BAU Symphony on Instagram, Twitter, and if
you haven’t had a chance to, check out some

of my sample packs.

I’ve got Structures, I’ve got I’m Operablem,
and I’ve got Prism sound collection all available

on and on

And that’s about it.

See you guys out there.


Tips for Adding Dynamics to Programmed Hi-Hats

A video with some tips for adding dynamics, feel and interest to programmed hi-hats. // Sample packs ➥

About The Pro Audio Files

Tutorials on mixing, mastering and producing music in Pro Tools with plugins from Waves, FabFilter, SoundToys, Softube, Sonnox, PSP, Slate Digital and more. Learn how to mix using EQ, compression and effects like reverb, delay, saturation and distortion on vocals, drums, guitar, bass and more.

Tips for Adding Dynamics to Programmed Hi-Hats

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