Hi-hat

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4 Bass drum | 5 Snare drum | 6 Hi-hat

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A hi-hat, or hihat, is a type of cymbal and stand used as a typical part of a drum kit by percussionists in R&B, hip-hop, disco, jazz, rock and roll, house, reggae and other forms of contemporary popular music.[1]

Contents

Operation

The hi-hat consists of two cymbals that are mounted on a stand, one on top of the other, and clashed together using a pedal on the stand. A narrow metal shaft or rod runs through both cymbals into a hollow tube and connects to the pedal. The top cymbal is connected to the rod with a clutch, while the bottom cymbal remains stationary resting on the hollow tube. The height of the top-cymbal (open position) is adjustable.

When the foot plate of the pedal is pressed, the top cymbal crashes onto the bottom cymbal (closed hi-hat). When released, the top cymbal returns to its original position above the bottom cymbal (open hi-hat). A tension unit controls the amount of pressure required to lower the top cymbal, and how fast it returns to its open position.[2]

History of development

Initial versions of the hi-hat were called clangers, which were small cymbals mounted onto a bass drum rim and struck with an arm on the bass drum pedal. Then came snow shoes, which were two hinged boards with cymbals on the ends that were clashed together. Next was the low-boy or low-hat, similar to a modern hi-hat stand, only with cymbals close to the ground. Hi-hats that were raised and could be played by hand as well as foot may have been developed around 1926 by Barney Walberg of the drum accessory company Walberg and Auge.[1]

Up until the late 1960s, the standard hi-hats were 14 inches, with 13 inches available as a less-common alternative in professional cymbal ranges and smaller sizes down to 12 inches restricted to children's kits. In the early 1970s, hard rock drummers (including Led Zeppelin's John Bonham) began to use 15-inch hi-hats. In the late 1980s, Zildjian released its revolutionary 12-inch Special Recording hats, which were small, heavy hi-hat cymbals intended for close micing either live or recording, and other manufacturers quickly followed suit. However, in the early to mid-1990s, Paiste offered 8-inch mini hi-hats as part of its Visions series; these were among the world's smallest hi-hats. Starting in the 1980s, a number of manufacturers also experimented with rivets in the lower cymbal. But by the end of the 1990s, the standard size was again 14 inches, with 13 inches a less-common alternative, and smaller hats mainly used for special sounds. Rivets in hi-hats failed to catch on.

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