Chapter 8. Song Editor

Table of Contents

8.1. Main Controls
8.2. Song Editor modes
8.2.1. Select Mode
8.2.2. Draw Mode
8.2.3. Song Mode
8.2.4. Selected Pattern Mode
8.2.5. Stacked Pattern Mode
8.3. Sidebar
8.4. Timeline
8.5. Tags
8.6. Playback Track
8.7. Automation Path

Figure 8.1. The Song Editor

The Song Editor

The Song Editor gives an overview of the whole song (e.g. intro, verse, bridge, chorus and so on). Each colored square on this panel represents a playing pattern. It gives you complete freedom to add/remove patterns to the song and to move or copy any part of your song.

Columns represent time periods within the song. While they're shown as the same width in the Song Editor, the length of time taken to play through a column is set by the length of the pattern or patterns which are active and playing during that time slot.

Multiple patterns can be active at the same time in a column, and they will play simultaneously. This allows instrument parts to be separated out into different patterns, or to add ornamentation or fills on top of basic patterns without duplicating the basics into both patterns.

In the case of multiple patterns of different lengths in one column only the largest one(s) will be represented by a square. The shorter patterns are indicated by rectangles whose width indicate their length relative to the longest one.


You can alter the colors of the squares using the Interface tab in the Appearance tab of the Preferences.

Picture of a part of the Song Ruler used for naviagation. It indicates the position of certains bars by their number - "1", "5", "9", "13", "17". All remaining bars are indicated with a vertical line - "|".

In addition to the transport control provided in the Main Toolbar you can use the Song Ruler to navigatw. This is the area above the grid and right of the Main Controls. The position clicked will be rounded to the nearest pattern beginning (indicated by the faint playhead shown upon hovering) and transport will be relocated there.


Navigation in Hydrogen is always quantized. It is only possible to move forward / backwards or locate to whole patterns.


You can also locate the keyboard cursor (see Chapter 3) to a desired pattern and press Ctrl + Space to relocate to this position.

8.1. Main Controls

Main Controls for the Song Editor. From left to right: larger button bearing the text "CLEAR" for deleting all patterns, new pattern button, two buttons to move the selected pattern down and up, two buttons to activate the Draw and the Select mode, and the button to switch between Selected Pattern Mode and Stacked Pattern Mode.
  • Grey button containing the text "CLEAR". : deletes all patterns (asks for confirmation!).

  • Grey button containing a plus sign. : creates a new pattern (and asks for a name).

  • Two grey button vertically aligned. The lower one contains a black arrow tip pointing downwards and the upper one pointing upwards. : moves currently selected pattern up or down.


    You can also drag-and-drop a pattern up/down in the pattern list.

  • Grey button containing a black brush. : indicates that Hydrogen is in Draw Mode or Grey button with pointer and dashed rectangle. : in Select Mode.

  • Grey button if a black lock. : locks the Pattern Editor.

    If the Pattern Editor is locked, the user won't be able to select a pattern using the Sidebar of the Song Editor. Instead, Hydrogen will automatically select the currently playing pattern. In case there is more than one pattern present in the current row, the bottom-most one will be chosen.


    This becomes quite handy when recording notes in Song Mode. Hydrogen will always select the pattern recorded notes will be inserted to.


    This button is only enabled in Song Mode. In Pattern Mode recorded notes are always added to the currently selected pattern.

  • Grey button with a horizontal black line. : indicates that Hydrogen is in Selected Pattern Mode or Grey button with three horizontal black lines stacked vertically. : in Stacked Pattern Mode.


    These two buttons will only be enabled in Pattern Mode. In Song Mode playing patterns are solely determined by the grid in the Song Editor.