Desktop Apps Training - Other Applications


Hydrogen is a program for Linux users that allows users to create drum sounds and beats with many different effects.


With this program users may edit, modify, mix, and import drum sounds so that they can create a professional sounding final product. Using Song Editors, Pattern Editors, and Mixers is a main aspect in creating an enjoyable sound.

Getting Started

Hydrogen is typically listed as a sequencer in the menu.


The Play Mode Toolbar is directly below the Standard Toolbar, which contains File, Window, and ?. Contained inside the Play Mode Toolbar is a Play Button, Stop Button, Pattern Mode Button, Song Mode Button, Beats Per Minute, CPU Load, and Midi In.

When a final drum beat that has been created, use the Play and Stop Button to test it. Use the Pattern Mode Button for creating a pattern to use in a song.

The Song Mode Button should be employed when the user has already created one or more drum patterns. Once this is done, arrange the patterns to the desired setup. The BPM option allows the user to change the tempo of the drum pattern.


Pattern Editor

Once a user has the Pattern Mode button selected (this means that the button would contain a bright green “P” on it), they are able to create or edit a drum pattern in the Pattern Editor window. In this window a user is able to set the Grid Resolution.

Setting the Grid Resolution means that a user can set the number of individual drum sounds in every beat. In the example, the Grid is set to 16, which would allow four drum sounds in every beat. Next a user is able to hear new notes, record keyboard events, and quantize keyboard events. A user can also set a name for the pattern that they are working on. For this pattern there is no name set. Finally, a user is allowed to set the timing of the drum pattern that they are using. Notice here the timing is set to 8.



Once a user has all of the settings like they want, the user can start creating drum sounds in the grid. The grid in the Pattern Editor window is very easy to use. Notice on the right a user has many different built in sounds that they can choose from. They are also able to import other sounds into the Hydrogen program.

To create a sound, click inside the grid corresponding to one of the drum sounds on the right. Notice, in the example there is a small dot marked on the 1, 2, 3, and 4 grid lines. Now, push play in the upper left hand side of the program listen to a “Pedal HH” sound over and over with the same amount of time between each sound.

By right clicking on one of the drum sounds that are available to users in the Hydrogen program, a user is able to view the properties of the drum sound, load a sample of the sound, mute the sound, mute everything else but the sound, clear all of the notes in the sound, and fill all of the available grid spaces for the sound.

Here is a simple drum beat that a user can try that might get them started on making, creating, and modifying their own drum sounds and patterns. This is a fairly simple pattern that was created only from the available built in sounds that Hydrogen provides.

The dots were simply placed on the grid to create a conglomeration of sounds to make up an entire pattern. Slow the BPM down to about 72 and see what it sounds like.




Song Editor

In the Song Editor window, a user is able to take all of the patterns that they have created and arrange them to create a full song. The X's that are can be placed in the song editor represent a musical measure. In this example there are three patterns that are being used. The X's are indications of where that particular pattern is going to be played.


On the top of the Song Editor window, a user has a few arrangement and general property options. The first option is the Create New Pattern Button.


The Mixer

The Mixer window that is located within the Hydrogen program, is used to modify and edit different drum sounds.

All of the sounds that are available to the user are located within the Mixer.


For example, a user could modify the Kick drum sound by changing the four effects nobs that every sound contains. On top of the Mixer a user is able to hear a sample sound, load a sound, mute the sound, or hear nothing but that particular sound.

The green sliding bar located underneath these options, is for instrument panning. If the green sliding bar is all the way to the right, then the only speaker that you will hear that sound from is the right one. On the bottom of the Mixer a user can adjust the levels of every sound that is available in the Hydrogen program.

To the far left, in the Mixer Window there are three buttons that a user can toggle with. If any buttons are highlighted green, then they are selected. In the example, the “Mix” button is selected. This allows the user to view only the Mixer. A user can toggle this view by clicking the “FX” viewing button which contains a few other mixing options.

Finally, on the right of the Mixer users can adjust the Master Level that will effect the whole song and pattern.



Opening a File

To Open an existing file, click on the File Menu on the Standard Toolbar and move the mouse down until “Open” is selected. The “Open” option is located directly below

the “New” option.

Note: “Open” is different then “Open Demo”

or “Open Recent”.


This option will take the user to a small dialog box from which they can open an existing Hydrogen file. Navigate through this dialog box to find the file that you are looking for with the “.h2song” extension and click “Open”.

Saving a File

To Save a file that is currently being worked on, click on the File Menu on the Standard Toolbar and move the mouse down until “Save” is selected.

Note: If a user wants to resave a file under a different file name or resave a file to a different location from where the file currently is then, select the “Save As” option.


Once a user reaches the Save Song dialog box, they are able to navigate through trees and directories, to find exactly where the user wants to save the file.

Next, create a name for the file in the File Name Box and finally click save.