Updated: January 25, 2020 by Richard Cole
When it comes almost all forms of music, despite the genre, percussion are the key element. They are the anchor of the whole band or composition.
When you think about it, music is nothing more than a set of notes played over a defined amount of time. This temporal dimension is pretty important. In order for everything to sound in unison, each instruments needs to follow the same tempo. And what sets and keeps the tempo? Percussion.
One of the most popular percussion instruments are drum sets. The kind you see being used in rock, pop, punk and just about any modern genre of music aside some electronic genres. A standard drum set has a number of constant elements that make the basic kit.
These are divided into drums and cymbals. When it comes to cymbals, each drummer usually has their own configuration that suits their needs. However, 99% of drummers will always have a hi-hat in their setup. Hi Hat is pretty unique, and is virtually irreplaceable in a modern band. Today we are going to take a look at Hi Hats and Hi Hat parts in order to see how they work, and what different variations there are.
What makes Hi Hat so unique is the fact that it uses a pedal as a part of its mechanism. As a matter of fact, it’s the only non passive cymbal found in just about any drum kit.
This versatile nature gives it a lot more flexibility when it comes to the type of sounds you can get out of it. If you think about it, Hi Hat is basically the foundation of every standard rock rhythm. If you don’t have a huge selection of cymbals, you can easily use Hi Hat to fill in the gap where you would otherwise insert more specific types of cymbals.
The anatomy of a Hi Hat is pretty simple, yet pretty amazing as well. There are actually two cymbals that lay on top of each other with bells pointed in opposite directions. The lower cymbal of the Hi Hat is static. In other words, it doesn’t move. The upper one is actually connected to an upper pull rod which is used to raise or lower the cymbal.
You operate the pull rod using the pedal. However, the Hi Hat doesn’t only operate in an open or closed position. That’s the beauty of this part of the drum kit. You can use it fully open, fully closed, or anywhere in between and achieve some pretty interesting results.
The nature of the Hi Hat mechanism also allows the drummer to adjust the length of pull. Some drummers straight up lock the Hi Hat in its closed position and use it like any other passive cymbal.
Others adjust the travel of the pull rod in their own ways, ranging from full length of travel to an almost closed one. Rarely, you will even see a drummer or two who will lock the Hi Hat in the fully open position.
Hi Hats come all kinds of sizes. Just like any other cymbal out there, there are numerous types of Hi Hats that differ in the material used, quality, size and more. Since it’s by far one of the most used elements of the drum kit, a good Hi Hat can really improve the overall sound of the song.
However, proper Hi Hat technique takes time to master. Unlike other cymbals, the Hi Hat always sits flat. That means that you will have to be careful of the angle of attack you are using when playing it. If you don’t, you can easily crack a brand new set in a matter of days.
Hi Hat is by far one of the most interesting elements of any drum kit. For a pretty simple percussion instrument, it has a huge spectrum of sounds you can create just by playing it in different ways.
Hi Hat parts are numerous, mostly because of the mechanical nature of the whole system, but you will hardly have a Hi Hat mechanism failure. These things are pretty much bullet proof. Bottom line is, we can’t imagine rock and roll without Hi Hat in it.
So if you’re a drummer, you should definitely give this element all the attention it deserves.