Hydrogen Drum Synthesiser Tutorial
Hydrogen is for want of a better description a Drum Synthesiser you can play drums with it. Now I am by no means a drummer or anything close to being a musician of any sought, but I rather wish I was. It is a high end application designed to create drum patterns that can be used on it's own or in conjunction with other audio products such as "Ardour".
Not long ago any kind of professional audio work was confined to propriety software and the cost was, and still is astronomic. The purpose of this article is to provide an instructional content on howto create Drum patterns using the application called hydrogen not, I repeat not to turn you into any kind of professional musician. Hydrogen is a capable program and can be used with or without the Jack Audio Connector, not all audio applications that utilise Jack plugin are capable of using the default audio driver.
Hydrogen will use almost any audio driver available to it, left in default auto mode in preferences section it should select the Jack audio connector provided jack already is running, you can also predefine what audio driver Hydrogen is to use. We would recommend you use jack as this seems to us to be less distorted and more flexible but if this the only application you intend to use and sound quality is ok, then by all means use ALSA or any other audio driver that takes your fancy.
- Drum Manager
- Pattern Editor
- Song Editor
The installation will give only one method buy which you can install this software there are many other ways available this tutorial will only concentrate on command line. This will be followed by a quick tour of the various editors, mixers and managers used in Hydrogen. Looking at each of the separate components in turn starting with the Mixer, Drum Manager and ending with the Song Editor.
Copy and paste the line bellow after the prompt into your terminal if not previously installed. You can also install this application via Synaptic Package Manager, Aptitude, Debian or Gdebi installer.
This application "Hydrogen" has three main windows as it's functional components these comprise of a "Mixer" by which each of the individual elements that make up a drum kit (Symbols, Hi Hat, Bass and so on) are selectable as channels that can be mixed to levels required by you the composer.
The mixer is pretty much self explanatory each Drum Kit is made up of a number of instruments each on an individual channel this is represented by a different instrument contained in the "Pattern Editor" the order by which from left to right on the "Mixer" appears from bottom to top in the "Pattern Editor". The mixer has a number of adjustments that can be tweaked to suit your needs for any given pattern or song including a master control. Each slider operates the volume mute and play functions plus a solo option along with a Master control.
This is your main production window, within this window you change to a new or edit an existing pattern the size can be set from 1- 32 beats (actually I call them beats but I am not sure this is the correct term) the resolution which again can be set to off upto 32T (I have no idea what these terms mean) but they do change the window dramatically. The number of beats determine how many time a precusion instrument can be used within a bar (again not a musician just doing the best I can to describe). This first screen displays a size of 8 and a resolution of 16 the second a size of 4 and resolution of 16, now going completely mad the third screen offers a size of 16 and resolution of 16. As you can see the first set of three images are very different to one another. We recommend you mimic the pattern on the first image and then play each of the pattern in turn altering it size as necessary. To play a given pattern ensure your player is set from song mode to pattern mode and press play.
Now lets examine some of the properties of the resolution option, but first lets set the size back to 8 and the resolution of 16 this appears to be the default setting. Play this pattern to remind yourself on what it sounds like before changing the resolution from 16 to 32 the second screen is an example of the resolution change to 32 this increases the number of beats to each bar effectively doubling the number of beats. Changing again the resolution to 32T seems to quadruple this as in the third screen.
We are using the GMKit Drum selection which I think is the default for Hydrogen, you can change the resolution on the fly even whilst playing, this is not true for the size option as the pattern needs to be halted before it is changed. The resolution does however allows the insertion of several more nodes for each precession instrument. There are two ways you can play a sound associated with each instrument the first and the most obvious is to use the pattern editor and loop the tune, however this is not always helpful so there is another way. On the left hand side of the '''"Pattern Editor "''' is a list of instruments associated with the Drum Kit that has been chosen, by clicking the instrument name itself with your mouse you can play each instrument you click on you can do this whilst playing your pattern. In addition to this we can also reposition instruments anywhere we wish within the stack and mixer this is accomplished by selecting the instrument we wish to move and clicking on the up and down arrows immediately bellow the pattern selector. Examples can be seen bellow:
We can also do something else provided you have installed the other Drum Kits available for the Hydrogen application. Select View >> Show drumkit manager then select play for your chosen pattern size and resolution. View images bellow:
With the Drum Kit Manger select a Drum kit and load it, the tune should immediately change with the new loaded instruments, It is not possible to have more than one drum kit installed in one Drum pattern. The Drumkit also allows you to "Save", "Import" and "Export" Drumkits.
If you have the knack for creating drum patterns the song editor should be a breeze any given drum song is made up of instances of a given pattern any pattern once assigned can only be repeated if it is altered all instances will also be altered. For example you have created a new pattern on the song editor line marked Pattern1 you are happy with the content and decide to replicate this pattern along the line marked Pattern1. You select a new pattern Pattern2 directly underneath Pattern1 you create a new pattern using the same selected Drum. I wasn't aware of this so I tried to install a new Drum selection for Pattern2 but wanted Pattern1 to remain as set with "GMKit", apparently though this can not happen changing the Drum kit for one changes it for all. So with being comfortable the drum loop for Pattern2 we place these on the line in the Song Editor where we want them played. It would be unusual to play both loops at the same time but if this is something you want you have the provision to do so.
Towards the bottom of the Hydrogen application you can set the play mode if it is set to pattern only the selected pattern will play, if selected to song the whole composition will be played when you press the play button.
You can seek further guidance on creating compositions in Hydrogen at the following location Hydrogen Tutorial