Hihat Production Techniques

Here’s another trick I used when producing Genietronix track called Nanotec — should go out on the promo circuit later today.

hihats_fast_pace.pngThe common pattern for house productions, including tech house, is that classical syncopated hihat, you can’t miss it, any house track has it as its basic element. See picture to the right, this will trigger the syncopated hihat over and over again. The astute reader might also notice that I’m using a loop from a bigger drum loop, this way I could reuse various elements if needed inside the track, but in this case I was interested in the classical open hihat house sound.

hihats_slow_pace.pngHowever, what I did was also to make a slower version of this pattern where the open hihat triggers every second time. I use this pattern in the beginning of the track. When moving to various ‘climax’ parts in the song, such as just before breakdown, and just after breakdown, I use the faster version. And in the beginning of various parts I use the slower version. This makes it sound like the overall track is getting faster with more energy — even if it’s just the same BPM! This is one of those audio illusions it’s good to use from time to time, to make things faster and higher energy, just make the loops trigger 2x the normal pattern. It makes the overall production also sound more interesting.

hihat_accent.pngAs the final decoration, I use the same loop with an even more accentuated loop setup at various eight-bar endings — it’s like using cymbals but instead the accentuated hihat is indicating that a new section is starting.

Now, to be fair, in certain productions like minimalist electro, variations are not there, maybe you even need to have the same hihat pattern repeat across the whole song, and that’s fine, that’s a production decision that makes sense from time to time. I’ve just noticed how the drum patterns for the last year or so have indeed been very sparse, with little variations. If the style changes, tricks like these are in fashion again, and that’s fine, too. Personally I prefer more production work behind tracks, but in the spirit of the punk movement, too much polish will make things sound too constructed. Good taste rules with a lot of production work. But I’m a big fan of ‘think different’ — not even minimalism needs to sound like a formula, so using hihat techniques as discussed before might make a minimalist track more personal and intriguing.

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