FL Studio

The most up to date and expansive reference for how to use FL Studio will of course be the official page found at the following link.

FL Studio Online Reference Page

The Main Window

Full details at official the FL Studio online reference

FL Studio differs from many other programs in the basic layout of it's main window more than anything. Minimize / maximize / close buttons are towards the middle for one, icons can not be scaled, and while the smaller info boxes along the top can be rearranged the sub-windows in the main area can not be snapped or sized to lock together evenly.

Luckily the program does label things prodigiously. It doesn't have tool tips in the traditional sense. There is a small info window to the upper left (under the file menu options) that will display information on the interface element you are currently over / interacting with. When adjusting a knob or slider it will also display the value your are currently setting.

Channels / Step Sequencer

Full details at official the FL Studio online reference

The step sequencer is where you'll find individual instruments, samples, and even automation objects listed. Each one has a preview to the right of it displaying either the step pattern (which you can edit right there by clicking the square buttons) or a piano roll of note arrangements. Clicking a piano roll preview will open the piano roll window.

You can remove a channel (not undoable) by either right clicking it and slecting "delete") or by selecting the channel and pressing "Alt-Delete" which denotes channel deletion (as opposed to notes).

Multiple channels can be selected by Shift Clicking the green selection button (to the right of the channel name, not the left). Pressing "Alt-Delete" will then delete all channels at once if you so wish.

Loading plug-ins

To load a new instrument or sample, make a selection of which instrument from the "add one" menu under the "channel" menu at the upper left of the program. You can also right-click one of the existing instruments and choose either "Insert" or "Replace" and then select an instrument.

In either of these methods you can only load plug-ins that *generate* sound. Plug-ins that edit sounds will be added through the mixer window.

Loading audio files

Loading sound clips into FL Studio is similar to loading generator plug-ins. Right click on the instrument panel and select "insert" or "replace" as if you were going to add an instrument plug-in. At the top of the new context that appears with a right-click you should see two entries that read "audio clip" and "sampler".

The difference is that an audio clip is meant to be an extended audio track (such as vocals) which will populate the pattern automatically once a clip has been chosen. A sample in meant to be a short sound that requires you to place notes within the piano roll which will change pitch depending on the note position chosen.

(use "song mode" and place the pattern in the playlist to see the entire waveform of the song)

Once either has been selected then you still need to go to the channel settings window and click on the folder icon under the "SMP" tab to browse to and select the sound file you want. It will load and display a preview of the song's entire waveform in the lower part of the channel settings window.

Channel Settings

From here you can also change some qualities of it such as the pitch, reverse it, normalzie it, swap the stereo and use the "in" and "out" knobs to fade the beginning or end of the clip.

The Piano Roll

Full details at official the FL Studio online reference

The piano roll is essentially a midi-like representation of notes along an atypical music sheet. It's not made up of sheet music staffs like you might have seen before. Instead it's more like a graph. From left to right still denotes time (with bars / measures shown

Some common interface tips for this particular window.

  • Left click to add a note. Right click (optionally drag) to remove notes.
  • Select multiple notes by holding Control and dragging in the window.
  • There is a "minus" sign in the upper right that will change the vertical scale of the notes.
  • The horizontal scale can be changed by grabbing the edges of the horizontal scroll bar and dragging it left or right.
  • Hold control and right click to change the zoom to fit all your notes within it automatically.
  • You can change which instrument channel is displayed in the piano roll by either clicking the preview in that channel or using the drop down arrow in the title bar of the piano roll itself.
  • You can see notes from other channels (while in the same pattern) by clicking the down arrow in the upper left corner of the piano roll and selecing helpers > ghost channels.
  • If you want to insert blank space into a particular point on the piano roll the easiest way is to select the area (not the notes) you want to be blank and press "control-insert". The width of the selection will equal the width of the blank space as it will begin filling in at the exact same spot.

The Mixer

Full details at official the FL Studio online reference

See section 8.