FL Studio is an amazing DAW. It has a highly intuitive workflow and is stuffed with so many cool features it seems you would need a lifetime to discover them all. In this tutorial we will highlight some of the very best tricks and help you to get the most out of this amazing piece of software. Fasten your seatbelts. Here we go!
Current project patterns
Switching between patterns and piano rolls is very easy by using the browser. Simply expand Current Projects | Patterns. See below:
You can then see the patterns in your project (Lead and Bass in my example). If you now click on a pattern it will expand and show you the channels in that pattern. See below:
As you can see, my Bass pattern consists of two channels (reFX Vanguard #3 and z3ta+). Click on a channel to open the corresponding Piano Roll view.
It is somewhat of a classic, but we list it here for those of you who haven't discovered this great feature. The Ghost Channels option allows you to see the piano roll of one channel in the piano roll of another channel (as long as they are in the same pattern).
To enable this feature choose Helpers | Ghost channels. See below:
Now, with this option enabled, it becomes a piece of cake to program a melody over a chord progression (for example). First I load a chord progression in one channel...
... and then open the piano roll of another channel...
You see the greyed out notes? Those are the ones from the other channel.
Play in Piano Roll
I don't mean just hitting the Play button. Nope, this feature is as cool and useful as it is simple. If you quickly want to know how the notes in a pattern sound together without everytime having to click Play then try this: In the Piano Roll, hold down the ALT key and right click somewhere above or below some notes.
A vertical green line appears and you hear the pattern at exactly that spot.
Now, while holding down the ALT key and the right mouse button, move your mouse to the right and left. The notes will play as you move the green line across them. Simple, but cool!
The project picker deserves more space, but I will list it here anyway. Once you see it in action, you say mamma mia and will never ever again live without it. In short, the project picker gives you that holistic overview of all your patterns and sounds that you always wanted.
To open the project picker, use CTRL+ALT+F8.
Did you know you can drop samples directly in the Piano Roll? This is a great feature if you want to place notes depending on the position of transients in a piece of audio. Open your Piano Roll and drag/drop a sample from the Browser.
After you have dropped the sample in the Piano Roll, you will see its waveform in the background. Note that you are not actually creating a channel with the audio sample.
To toggle the waveform press ALT+N.
Adjusting note events
You can adjust a note's horizontal position by moving your mouse pointer close to a note event and then using SHIFT + scrollwheel. See below:
Likewise, you can change a note's current note property (like velocity, panning, etc), by using ALT + scroll.
By the way, you can do exactly the same on a group of selected notes.
Fun with markers
Markers can be a great help and allow you to quickly jump back and forth in your composition. To place a marker, choose Time markers | Add one... in the Playlist Menu. See below:
After entering a name for the marker it will appear at the start of the Timeline (see 'Break' in the screenshot below).
You can reposition the marker by moving the mouse over the marker's left border (with the small dots). When the mouse pointer changes to a double arrow, left click and drag the marker to the desired position.
Alternatively, you can first make a selection on the Timeline (right click on the Timeline) and then choose ALT+T (or use Time markers | Add one... in the Playlist Menu). The marker will then appear at the start of the selection instead of at the beginning of the Timeline.
A third method (and perhaps the easiest) is to just right click somewhere on the Timeline and choosing Add marker... from the little menu that pops up.
Once you have a bunch of markers you can do a couple of things. First, you can simply jump from one marker to another by left clicking them. Also, you can use ALT+* and ALT+/ to jump to the next and previous marker respectively.
Markers can also be of different types. I'm not going to discuss them all here, but if you right click a marker you see a menu allowing you to set the marker type. I suggest you play around with it and see what each type does.
Selecting and deselecting note events
Selecting note events is easy. Choose the Select option in the Tools menu and simply start drawing a rectangle around the notes you want to select.
Sometimes, however, you want to remove some notes from a group of selected notes. You can do this in exactly the same way, but this time you start drawing with your mouse pointer hovering over a note you want to deselect.
You can transpose note events by selecting them and move them vertically by dragging them vertically with your mouse.
However, you can move selected note events up or down with one semitone by using SHIFT + UpArrow/DownArrow. Using CTRL+UpArrow/DownArrow will move the selected note events up or down by 1 octave.
What is your favorite FL Studio trick?
The clever readers will have noticed we only listed 9 tricks. What we would like to know is what your favorite trick is. If you have one you would like to share please leave a comment!
Really cool tricks may be included in a future post on Midichords.com.