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Feel Your Hats are a Bit Too Robotic? Listen Up!

It’s actually quite amazing what volume can do to any sound in general. If you think about it, velocity can be considered an effect. If you play a note fast, at the same volume, over and over again, it will sound very robotic and bland. But if you add some volume differences in there (velocity), this now gives your track a bit of catchiness, human-like feel, and bounce!

Same goes for using filters on your sounds. If you don’t know much about filters, high pass and low pass filters are extremely powerful. You may only have one note playing, but by doing some cool effects with volume or filters, that sound can be CATCHY!

Velocity Matters!!

In the video, I’ve gone over how to take a basic hat playing on every step, and give it some major flavor by simply ducking volumes in certain spots.

Personally, I don’t get too technical with it, but velocities can really get as technical as you’d like! By taking advantage of using velocities, you can easily replicate drum sets, or even just create incredibly catchy drum loops.

Catchy Drum Loops Come from VELOCITY!

When you give different volumes to your drum loop, it gives it dynamics. Meaning, there’s loud and quiet parts. This gives the listener tons to listen to, rather than a simple hat playing repetitively, over and over.

Within percussion loops, the same rule applies. All sounds will sound bland if at the same volume. If you have a full drum loop, with tons of cool percussion one-hit sounds, play around with velocity on some notes, or just simply have some percussion sounds at lower volumes than others.

This creates a full, dynamic drum loop, giving huge creativity, and candy to ears!

Sidechaining Your Hats?

Before we get into side-chaining regarding hi-hats, let’s talk quickly on percussion loops with sidechaining and drums.

To continue off that full drum loop as mentioned above, if you implement some sidechaining into the loop, this creates MAJOR bounce.

Silence is good in music, but obviously not all the time. If the beat is playing, then stops.. then a reverse cymbal comes in and BOOM! The chorus plays and it’s all epic! Silence, had a huge part to play in that epic ear candy!

So, if you use a kick drum to side-chain a percussion loop, this will create silence at times, depending on how extreme your sidechaining is, it will create extra bounce, and can create an even catchier percussion loop!

Now, back to the hi-hats. This is the exact same for hi-hats now. Create a hat loop, and use the kick drum to make the hi-hats duck in and out of volume.

Side-chaining is an incredible invention. This technique allows for some real catchy, warm, creative sounds.

What is Side-Chaining?

Side-chaining is when you use another sound to duck the volume of a sound.

For example:

If you have ever listened to commercials on television, music will be playing loud, but when a person starts talking, the volume suddenly ducks just underneath their voice. But when they stop talking, the volume slowly rises back to normal; nice and loud.

They achieve this with side-chain compression, and a slower release on the compressor.

Now, not all compressors provide side-chaining capabilities, but FL Studio surprisingly provides a lot of tools to do almost any job without having to purchase, or download free third party plugins.

Just Google some tutorials on side-chain compression with FL Studio’s limiter to see how it works!

Using side-chain compression is great for a lot of things, such as making your kicks stand out better, or for creating cool pumping effects with pads.. or in our case, hats ;).

Conclusion — When to, and NOT to Use Bouncy Hats

Some hats actually call for repetitive hats, playing at the same volume, on every step, and that super robotic sound. It fills up space, adds HUGE to the beat, and there’s nothing to complain about.

However, by using some velocity in your hats, it can always make your music sound more musical. Keep that robotic hat in the chorus, but in the verse, try a loop with hats that have been edited for their velocity!

Now, the side-chain feature just makes this velocity a lot easier. There’s no real manual editing, just set up a compressor, and it will duck the hats volume according to what ever you set it. (It doesn’t have to be a kick drum).

So I hope this little trick puts some movement and human-like feel into your tracks. It’s quite a simple little trick, but sometimes it’s these little tricks that have the biggest impact!

Check out more tutorials by Beatstruggles!

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