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Create battery lines on Linux, Windows or MacOS using Hydrogen

Diolinux

Anyone who has ever captured audio from a battery knows how complicated it can be to get good quality audio out. Unlike instruments like guitar or keyboard, it is not enough to just plug in, press the record button and start playing.

To obtain quality material in capturing audio from a battery, resources and knowledge are needed that not all have. In addition to the quality of the instrument itself, several other issues such as the proper environment, quality of microphones and other recording equipment, as well as the knowledge to use them make all the difference at the time of production.

This makes many musicians, both amateurs and professionals, resort to synthesizer software that allows all this work to be done digitally, and that delivers a result as good as capturing the sound of the instrument in the studio.

That’s where software like Hydrogen comes into the equation.

Hydrogen is a free multiplatform software designed to create drum lines (drum machine) in an uncomplicated and professional way. Created by the Italian developer Alessandro Cominu, the software was initially developed for Linux, with versions for Windows and MacOS released later.

The way Hydrogen works is based on a pattern creation system with up to 32 times. Within each of these patterns the user can create a small section of the desired drum line, being able to select the instrument, time and intensity of each beat, among other things. Once one or more patterns have been created, they can be repeated or played sequentially, thus forming the song.

hydrogen-drum-machine-battery-1

At first glance Hydrogen’s seemingly complex interface can scare some people, but after a short time and some dedication it is already possible to understand the simple way things work. From my own experience, I can say that with an hour or two of use most users will have understood the basics of the software’s operating logic, and will be able to start producing content using it.

Hydrogen already comes with some drum kits pre-installed, but it also allows the user to create their own custom kits using samples that can be found in different places on the internet.

hydrogen-drum-machine-battery-2

The software offers a really large number of tools for the user to create their drum lines in the most organic way possible, preventing the music from having that “robotic” aspect.

Some examples of these tools are:

  • The Mixer (shown in the image above), which allows the user to change the volume, mute or even change the audio balance of each piece of the kit individually;
  • Control the intensity (velocity) of each beat individually, throughout the entire song. What is essential to work with dynamics;
  • Use a backtrack;
  • Change the tempo / tempo throughout the song as many times as necessary;
  • Control the gain, cutoff, sustain, attack and release of each instrument in the kit individually;
  • Use the software through a MIDI instrument, among many other possibilities.

The following is an extremely basic sample of what can be done using Hydrogen. The audios below are the result of the creation of the drum line of the music used in the intros of the Diolinux channel on YouTube made in Hydrogen.

The final quality of the drum lines produced at Hydrogen will depend entirely on the quality of the samples used, and also on the skills of those who are creating them to produce an organic sound, as close as possible to reality. When done well, a material created using Hydrogen can be indistinguishable from a studio recording on a real drums.

How to Install Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is present in the official repositories of most Linux distros, so to install it, just look for the software in your distro’s app store.

If you prefer, you can also install Hydrogen via Flatpak. If you don’t know what it is, or how to work with Flatpaks, check out our tutorial about the subject. Remembering that after installing Flatpak support, it will be necessary to add the Flathub repository, which can be done with the command below:

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo 

To install the Flatpak version of Hydrogen, simply access the same page on Flathub and follow the instructions. Or, you can simply copy and paste the command below into your terminal:

flatpak install flathub org.hydrogenmusic.Hydrogen

Remembering that the version of Hydrogen available in Flatpak is in beta, and occasional bugs are expected.

Windows and MacOS users who want to install the software can visit the downloads page the same.

Final considerations

Knowing how to play the physical instrument is certainly a “hand on the wheel” for those who are starting to use Hydrogen, but that does not mean that a non-drummer cannot achieve good results using the software. The way in which Hydrogen is intuitive and complete is a great facilitator for those who are now learning to work with this type of software.

Did you already know, are you curious to test, or are you already a Hydrogen user? Or do you know any other software with the same purpose that is as good? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below! ?

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That’s all, folks! ?