If you are on this page then you are either thinking about delving into the world of FL Studio or you already have and you are trying to figure out what all those confusing buttons do. Well, Fear Not! This FL Studio tutorial for beginners is going to help you figure out the basics of the layout and more.
Well, Fear Not! If you are new to music production or looking to get started then this FL Studio tutorial for beginners is going to help you figure out the basics of the layout and more.
So, let’s dive in…
FL Studio Tutorial For Beginners
We’ve all been there our first time opening FL Studio, Dozens of scary buttons with no clue where to start! Well, the good news is you only need to know a handful of them to navigate your way around. Here in this FL Studio Tutorial for beginners will go over the core functions you should know before you start your production journey!
The hint panel is the grey rectangular box just below file options in the top left of your interface. You should keep your eye on this because it will be giving you information based on whatever your cursor is hovering over at the time. This is a quick way to learn the names of buttons, menus, and the other functions of FL Studio. You can also see accurate percentages when you change any parameter which is convenient for precision when drawing automation patterns in the playlist! This seems basic, right? well, this is an FL Studio tutorial for beginners so take advantage of the hint panel, it will help you.
What is the playlist in FL Studio?
The playlist is your blank canvas where you write, arrange and automate your ideas. It’s made up of a grid with tracks marked on the left and bars numbered in the black bar on top. These both act as guides to help you structure your song from section to section. There are also two scroll bars, the top bar scrolls left and right, and the right one goes up and down. Alternatively, you zoom in on the project vertically or horizontally by holding the left-click mouse button on the edge of either scroll bar and moving them to isolate your desired section.
What are Bars in FL Studio?
Bars are how we measure a piece of music and every vertical line under a number is a bar. Each bar contains 4 beats and each beat contains 4 steps. Confusing? It’s not so complex and will become second nature once you start practicing arrangement. Notice how every 4 bars the background colors are alternated between light and dark grey? You can use this shading as a guide to know what section of your song you’re working on. Every 8 bars your song should have evolving energy levels to keep your listener engaged. Think of music production as storytelling with a beginning, middle, and end.
What are Tracks in FL Studio?
Tracks are empty placeholders for you to draw midi, audio, or automation patterns on them. Left-clicking the green lights on the lower right of the track will mute and unmute the track or you can solo it through right-click options. A good practice when arranging your song is to place each element you add to an individual track so you know what each section is. You can also color code and rename tracks by your choices by right-clicking them making your projects even easier to navigate, so experiment with grouping tracks with color and organizing your projects.
What is the channel rack in FL Studio?
The channel rack is where all your midi, samples, and automation patterns are stored so they can be selected to be drawn on the playlist. It works like a traditional step sequencer with a cool swing parameter and is measured in… you guessed it, Bars, beats, and steps! Only they’re better represented visually here than they are on the playlist. The first block of every grey and red column is the start of a beat. The 4 blocks in each grey and red beat are steps, they measure up to 1 bar.
I am writing this FL Studio tutorial for Beginners was written with the question in mind “What did we wish someone had told us when we first started?” Most FL Studio users’ first experience with making a song is to try and write it all on one pattern. This can be difficult to navigate as the track grows longer so a good practice would separate each channel into patterns so you can assign them to individual tracks on your playlist. You can make new patterns by hitting the plus symbol next to the pattern selector. Holding the left click on the pattern selector lets you scroll up and down through your midi patterns.
What is the swing dial in FL Studio?
The swing dial, when used in moderation, adds an off-beat flow to your patterns. What it’s doing is moving the 2nd and 4th step of every beat forward a little creating swing within the rhythm. Be mindful this applies to every pattern in the project piano roll melodies included.
What is a step sequencer in FL Studio?
A step sequencer is a loop of notes that triggers your set values to. Every block painted in the step sequencer is triggering a C5 note on the piano roll which is FL studio’s default assigned pitch for any sample you load into the channel rack. If your sample has the key written on it you can set its correct key by left-clicking the sample on the channel rack to bring the sampler forward. From here click the spanner icon in the chosen samples sampler window and then find the corresponding key on the keyboard at the bottom.
Notice C5 is highlighted as the root note, to change it Click the correct note and you have now tuned the sample to the keyboard. If the sample is short like a pluck or a pad you could write a melody in the piano roll with it and FL will pitch it accordingly.
What is the piano roll in FL Studio?
The piano roll is another grid with bars, beats, and steps that lets you create patterns on the channel rack. The piano roll is where you’ll be writing drums, basslines, chords, and melodies. This feature has a lot of features but here are some tips and tricks you should know if you just getting started.
How do I make drum patterns in the piano roll in FL Studio?
To send a sample to the piano roll right click it in the channel rack and select piano roll. With the help of the metronome (which we will cover later in this FL Studio Tutorial) you can paint blocks on the grid using C5 as the starting pitch of the drum (This only applies if you are using a sample). The piano roll is a great tool to write your drums because you can get more variation out of 1 sound by playing it in sections on different keys for different tones in your groove. You can also paint snare rolls in descending or ascending notes for ear candy on your transitions.
The benefits of using the piano roll for your drums are it will help you develop a faster workflow and also keeps your projects tidier since the information is stored in the midi pattern. You are able to place drums directly in the playlist which is also a valid method only variations are done through volume and panning automation.
What does control do in FL Studio?
Left-clicking “control” on the bottom left of the piano roll will give you some helpful options like “note pan” where you move individual elements to the left or right. It is worth noting that you should try not to overuse this feature. Too much panning is jarring for the listener. Another option is “note velocity” which is volume control, you can use this to give your drums a more human feel by accenting rhythms in your percussion loops. These options are controlled by the note sliders in the bottom grid on the right of “control”.
How do I change the snap to grid settings in FL Studio?
The magnet tool will allow you to change the grid snap settings. What that means is basically that you can be more surgical with your note placement. This in turn helps add swing to your music. There is also a global grid snap setting menu which is used for the playlist snap to grid settings just below the song position timer. Take some time painting notes with different step and beat snap settings so you can understand how to use them when you write music. Also, experiment with the brush and slicer tools, these are your best friends for a fast workflow.
How do I turn on scale highlighting or enable ghost channels in FL Studio?
Finally, the last tip you should know is on the top left of the piano roll you have a drop-down menu. The drop-down menu has some helper tools for beginners like “scale highlighting” This greys out the notes of musical scales. By “Greying them out”, gives you a grid to work off and write chords with ease. Another tool is “ghost channels” which will allow you to see the notes of other melodies you wrote on the same pattern which is helpful when you want to write matching basslines or chords.
What is the mixer in FL Studio?
The mixer is where you assign every sample and generator in your project to be treated for the mixdown process. You can assign elements from your channel rack to their own insert by selecting which element you want to route and then right-clicking an insert you want to send it to. From there select “channel routing” then “route selected channel to this track”.
What is a generator in FL Studio?
A generator is FL studio’s term for a VST, these programs range from a synth you can use to pick or create a sound to an effect you use to clean and polish sounds up. Synths that create sounds would be placed in the channel rack so you can program melodies with the piano roll. Effects however belong on the mixer channel and can be stacked up to 10 per channel. The limit isn’t just 10 effects per sound since channels can be linked to each other so your options are limitless really. Also note the load order of fx goes from top to bottom, so any effects you add will affect the ones above it in the list. You add effects to the mixer channel by clicking the drop-down box next to a slot.
What is the mixdown process in FL Studio?
The mixdown is the final stage of production where you take all the elements in your track and balance the levels for a clean and loud finish. Most producers these days treat their mixdown as their master too and aim for maximum loudness and cleanliness. You would tend to add effects such as EQ, compression, and saturation to achieve this goal by ensuring sounds aren’t clashing with each other.
What is the browser in FL Studio?
The browser is FL studios file explorer which will allow you to access your sample library and generators allowing you to drag and drop on the channel rack or playlist. All of your automation patterns can be accessed through the current project tab if you want to delete one. The browser can be hidden by left-clicking its icon which can be practical when it’s not in use since you’ll have more workspace on your desktop.
What is Tempo?
Tempo is the heartbeat of your track also referred to as BPM (Beats per minute). A good idea when starting out is to research what BPMs your favorite genres are written in. From there you can experiment to find a tempo at which you want to start writing your own music.
What’s a metronome in FL Studio?
The metronome is a beat counter that plays rimshots to the tempo of your project. The metronome is easily overlooked when first starting out but it’s a good tool for drawing melodies when you haven’t written your drums yet. It plays a rhythm when the song loops so you can have a better idea of where you want to place your next note when writing ideas.
The most self-explanatory in the list but the “pattern” and “song” options are what you should bring your attention to. By selecting these you’re able to swap between the playlist or the pattern currently selected in the channel rack which is a feature you’ll be using a lot in your projects. This is about everything you need to know to get started!
Don’t forget to have fun!
With this FL Studio tutorial for beginners at hand, you should now be able to navigate your new DAW and use it to start writing music! Take it one step at a time and don’t overwhelm yourself, music is meant to be fun after all!
If you are new to music production be sure to check out our other articles on everything about music production!
See you in the next guide!