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MSPaintR0cks

A question to the musicians concerning hi hats

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Since my own wad also needs its own music, I compose it myself. I am very pleased with how each of the midis turned out, but one thing started to annoy me a little: the constant "ts-ts-ts-ts" of the hit hats in the more "driving" songs, which I have composed plenty of.
At first I didn`t notice it that much, but now I kind of think that it could really annoy the player if he is staying in the level for a little longer. However, It sounds really good with soundfonts, but I think most people will stick to the normal midi format.

How do you guys see such a thing? Are there maybe some alternatives that gives the beat the same kind of "driving" feel without having to change the rhythm of the entire song? I already tried to put some bass lines into offbeat, but it does not fit to most of the midis.

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Sometimes the hi-hat annoys me. What I do is lower the velocity of the hi-hat to, say, 100 as oppose to 127. Experiment with that and see how it turns out.

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I love hi-hats, but they need to be used correctly.

You can really change the feel of a beat just by removing half of the hi-hats, or by adding more. I find it useful for moving a song into a different part

Also, use of varying velocity makes a huge difference and is one way I mark a good midi song. What I mean is, don't always have each click be the same volume...for driving beats it's often good to have 100-50-100-50-100-50 as the note velocities

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Try changing the velocities of some hihats to make them sound more natural. If every hihat note is the same it'll sound robotic and drab. If you make every quarter note or accented note hihat 127 velocity, and make other notes like 100 or 80 or something, it'll sound more natural.
So if you have a constant 16th stream of hihats, you might want to put the velocities in a pattern of, say, 127 100 127 100 127 100... for accents every 8th note, or 127 100 80 100 127 100 80 100... for accents every quarter note.
Basically what I am saying is experiment with different velocities for your hihat notes to make it sound more natural and human. It'll blend in with the music better.

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If you have a MIDI controller of any kind, it helps to play your hi-hats that way so you get a humanized, natural-sounding dynamic movement. Even if you're not perfectly on time, sometimes that can sound better, or you can just quantize while retaining the dynamic changes of playing live. I do this all the time now, and my drum tracks sound better for it (whether MIDI or realistic drum library, it helps).

If you don't, just do what others have said and modify it manually, copying the pattern over as many bars as required. Be sure to modify it in the sense that a drummer would play it.

Additionally, the general MIDI hihats are especially sibilant compared to most of the other percussion or sounds in general, so it wouldn't hurt to lower the Expression (cc#11) of them on a separate MIDI channel, or just lower the relative velocity of all the hi-hats by 10 or 20 before exporting the MIDI.

It also really helps if you switch up the opened/closed hats a lot in realistic ways, like little open hat accents on the snares or at the end of phrases as a pickup etc. Also, add hi-hat rolls! These are common in real drumming and will add variety. Be sure to set the velocity of each hit in the roll individually to make it sound more realistic... not that MIDI is realistic anyway...

For everyone with hi-hats at 127, you're doing it wrong. Your hi-hats in most cases really shouldn't ever need to go to 127, unless you intend the effect to be a drummer slamming the hihat with a mighty force of thunder, or are overdoing all your other instruments such that you're overcompensating with the drums to compete. Hi-hats can actually be far quieter than you'd think and still cut through, while still adding the sense of motion they give to any groove. Most of the time you should never need to go over 100/110, even if your kick/snare are maxed out. Of course, everyone's MIDI sounds a little different, so this is not absolute.

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