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Hi-Hat Rolls: Tips, Tricks, and Professional Techniques (2024)

Hi-hat rolls are a pivotal element in modern music production.


They can elevate the energy of a track, add rhythmic intricacy, and serve as a signature element in genres like trap. 


These hi-hat rolls, when executed with skill and precision, can turn a simple pattern into an immersive rhythmic experience. 


As a music producer, knowing how to create show-stopping hi-hat rolls can set your tracks apart, captivate your audience, and define your unique sound.


In this article, you’ll be diving into:


  • The essence of hi-hat rolls ✓
  • Choosing the right hi-hat sounds ✓
  • Building dynamic patterns in FL Studio ✓
  • Advanced hi-hat roll techniques ✓
  • Incorporating sixteenth notes and triplets ✓
  • Automating hi-hat rolls for variation ✓
  • Blending hi-hat rolls with other track elements ✓
  • Crafting unique hi-hat sounds for standout tracks ✓


By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to create legendary, unique hi-hat rolls that can transform your beats and elevate your music production skills. 


You’ll be equipped to infuse your tracks with intricate, captivating hi-hat patterns that resonate with listeners, just like a professional.


So, let’s dive in…


What are Hi-Hat Rolls?


hi-hat rolls


Hi-hat rolls are an essential component in modern digital music production, particularly in genres like trap music. 


These rolls, comprised of rapid hi-hat notes, add a rhythmic complexity that can transform a simple beat into a captivating soundscape


Understanding hi-hat rolls is key for any aspiring producer looking to master trap and other electronic genres.


The essence of hi-hat rolls lies in their versatility. 


You can create a diverse range of sounds and feelings in your tracks by varying their:


  • Speed
  • Rhythm
  • Intensity


This makes hi-hat rolls not just a basic element, but a powerful tool for expressing creativity in music production.


Creating legendary tracks involves more than just technical skill; it requires creativity and a unique approach to using hi-hats. 


The key is to think outside the box 一 add variety to your rolls, play around with different sounds in your piano roll, and don’t be afraid to break the norms.


  • How to Select the Right Hi-Hats


Hi Hats 2 - Unison


Selecting the right hi-hat sounds is a crucial step in crafting effective hi-hat rolls.


The hi-hat sound (or loop) you choose can significantly impact the overall feel and emotions of a track.


When you search for hi-hats, it’s important to consider the: 



This will ensure they complement the other elements in your beat; it just makes sense.


In digital production, using a DAW (like FL Studio or Ableton, for example) offers a plethora of hi-hat samples at your disposal.


When choosing hi-hats, consider the vibe you want to personally convey.


Do you want sharp, piercing hi-hats for an aggressive trap beat, or smoother, softer hi-hats for a laid-back rhythm? 一 Your choice here sets the stage for the hi-hat rolls you wanna create.


NOTE: Always be open to learning and evolving your style. 


The world of music production is constantly changing, depending on the day.


Keeping up with new trends, technologies, and techniques, especially when you tap into software like FL Studio, is essential.


By continually refining your approach to hi-hat rolls in your DAW and staying innovative, you can create tracks that sound great and stand out in a crowded field.


Creating Dynamic Hi-Hat Patterns in FL Studio


Hi Hats FL Studio - Unison


Starting with basic rhythms in FL Studio will help you add uniqueness to your beats.


Lay down a foundational pattern using eighth or sixteenth notes, and then incrementally introduce hi-hat rolls to elevate the energy of the beat. 


When you understand this message, it allows for a structured approach 一 ensuring your hi-hat patterns align perfectly with the overall rhythm of the track.


In this creative phase, it’s crucial to play around with different note values and rolls to find what works best for your track. 


FL Studio’s piano roll is an invaluable tool for this, allowing you to visually plot out your hi-hat patterns and make precise adjustments. 


Additional tips include: 



Each hi-hat roll you choose/create should add a unique flavor to your track 一 enhancing its character and setting your music apart. 


Remember, the goal is to add texture and complexity to your beat without overwhelming the main melody or rhythm.


So, make sure to select or produce the appropriate hi-hat roll, depending on your vibe.




FL Studio Automation - Unison


Automation is a powerful feature in FL Studio that can bring life to your hi-hat rolls.


When you automate certain key parameters, in the right location of your track, you can create rolls that evolve throughout your track.


For example, these parameters include:



After that, watch your tracks depth and interest improve.


Don’t hesitate to play around with FL Studio’s MIDI editing and control features to tweak and refine your hi-hat rolls.


Sometimes, even slight adjustments to the timing or velocity of your hi-hats can make a significant difference in the overall sound of your beat. 


NOTE: If you’re confused about anything in FL Studio, there are details that you can watch and listen to on YouTube, or read about (and comment on) in other hi-hat article.


Incorporating Sixteenth Notes, Triplets & Syncopation For Complex Hi-hat Rolls


Hi Hat - Unison


Sixteenth notes and triplets offer a way to inject energy and complexity into hi-hat rolls.


Sixteenth notes are a rhythmic notation representing one-sixteenth of the duration of a whole note.


In standard 4/4 time, this means there are sixteen sixteenth notes in one measure.


They are essential for creating faster, more intricate rhythms, often used in hi-hat rolls to add energy and complexity to a beat.


Triplets are a group of three notes played within the period of two notes of the same value.


They introduce a unique, syncopated rhythm to a piece of music, breaking the conventional binary division of beats.


In hi-hat patterns, using triplets can add an unexpected twist, enriching the texture and rhythmic feel of the track.


Using these in your patterns can create a sense of speed and urgency, crucial for dynamic trap beats and hip-hop beats.


In FL Studio, you can easily place/fill these notes in your patterns 一 adjusting their velocity for added texture.


Syncopation, or the emphasis on off-beats, is another technique to master.


This can give your hi-hat rolls a unique swing by breaking the monotony of regular rhythms, which you can select and preview in your DAW’s piano roll.


Experimenting with syncopation can lead to unexpectedly captivating results, especially in trap music, so don’t hold back.


Combining these elements creates complex hi-hat rolls that can truly define a track.


Remember, the key is to balance complexity with listenability – your rolls should improve the beat, not overwhelm it.


Practice and experimentation are your best tools to understand hi-hat rolls.




Hi Hats and Other ELements - Unison


Integrating hi-hat rolls with other elements of your track in the appropriate location is crucial.


The relationship between hi-hat rolls and other percussive elements like the kick and snare should be synergistic.


Each should complement the other to create a cohesive rhythm section.


Balance is key in mixing hi-hat rolls, so make sure to walk before you run.


For example, they should be prominent enough to be noticed but not so overpowering that they overshadow the rest of the beat.


In FL Studio, use EQ and panning to find the perfect place for your hi-hat rolls in the mix.


Hi-Hat Rolls: Final Thoughts


Mastering hi-hat rolls is a game-changer in the realm of digital music production.


Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced producer, the techniques and insights shared in this article will elevate your skills in creating dynamic, captivating hi-hat patterns.


Remember, the journey of perfecting hi-hat rolls is as much about creativity as it is about technique.


To help you in this journey, I’m excited to share a special resource with you: the free Essential MIDI Hi-Hat Rolls pack.


This exclusive pack includes 10 impeccably crafted MIDI hi-hat rolls that are designed for instant plug-and-play use in your beats.


Each roll has been carefully created to suit a variety of styles and can be effortlessly integrated into FL Studio or any other DAW.


This pack not only saves time but also offers you a palette of top-quality rolls that can inspire your next big hit.


As you continue to explore and experiment with hi-hat rolls, don’t forget to make the most of these resources.


Use them to add a professional touch to your tracks, learn new patterns, and infuse your beats with the unique flair that only well-crafted hi-hat rolls can provide.


Until next time…



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