Drums are an essential part of music arrangements across many genres. Kicks, snares, and percussion stand out most of the time within this category. However, an element that is largely overlooked is the hi-hats. Despite this, the hi-hats are of equal importance for the groove and drive of the music. In the next tutorial, we will show you how to generate your own hi-hat sequence and make it fit nicely in the overall mix.

As usual, we will start with a previously made sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW. It contains most of the essential elements of a full mix. Let’s have a quick listen.

SoundBridge sequence for hi-hat sequence generation

SoundBridge sequence for hi-hat sequence generation

~Full Mix – Without Hi-Hat

As we can hear, it sounds quite full. However, it could benefit from a fast hi-hat sequence that would help bind the rhythm together. As we mentioned before, we will generate our own hi-hat sequence from scratch. There’s a variety of soft synths capable of this task. For this tutorial, we have chosen to do it with Massive by Native Instruments. Let’s start by adding an instance of it on a newly created MIDI track within SoundBridge: DAW. Then, we will write a long note inside a MIDI block which we will use to trigger the sequence.

Hi-hat sound on Massive

Massive noise generator

Massive noise generator

We will concentrate only on the noise generator located at the bottom for now. The noise generator has just two parameters to control: Color and Amp, with an additional selector of noise presets. For this task, we have chosen the Hi-Metallic one. This is how the core sound of our hi-hat sounds:

~Base sound of the Hi-Hat

Adding rhythm to our hi-hat sequence

Now, it’s time to turn the sound into a rhythmical sequence. We will do that by modulating the amplitude of the noise generator. For this, we will use the “performer” which can be found in the middle part of the Massive interface. This is done by dragging the cursor icon of the performer onto the empty slot of the Amp in the Noise Generator section. You can see that in the picture below.

Massive performer section

Massive performer section

As you can see, the performer has a set of options. Firstly, on the left side, there is a section for Ratio. This controls how long your sequence will last. Below that, there are switches for Position, Sync and Restart. Lastly, there’s an Amp parameter, which basically controls the volume of the sequence. Moving to the right, we see the Amp Mod slider as well as the Xfade Seq. The latter is pretty useful since it allows you to mix between two lines of the performer containing different shapes.

Here is how our hi-hat sequence sounds with the default performer settings.

Massive default settings

Massive default settings

To make things more interesting, we can click on the “Load Curve” tab at the top of the performer section. This will substitute the Ratio section on the left with a set of different curve shapes. You can choose between them, and by assigning them to sequencer steps on the right, come up with interesting grooves.

Load curve settings Massive

Load curve settings Massive

Let’s hear how our hi-hat sequence sounds so far.

~Hi Hat Sequence 1

Now, we should process our sequence with some additional effects like distortion, reverb, and delay. All of these can be found as built-in effects in Massive. Here is the result.

~Hi Hat Sequence 1 – Processed with Effects

Lastly, let’s hear how our hi-hat sequence sounds with all other elements of the full mix.

~Full Mix – With Hi-Hat Sequence