Lesson 3: Getting Started in Fruity Loops Studio
A brief explanation and walk through of getting starting in FL Studio PE
3.1- Getting Started
The very first step in any type of audio recording is knowing what it is you actually want to record. Whether it be a complex compilation of sounds, a few instruments, or creating everything directly in the studio with digital sounds.
Let’s say that you want to record a speaking segment with a nice violin for a radio ad for a friends business. Just a random thought, but it could happen for any music producer one day! Your friend has a sound track of the sound he wants as a back ground a short script for you to speak. What is it that you need? What connections and equipment?
Easy. Here is what a chain of the equipment would look like from beginning to end. Microphone, Mic stand, Microphone connector cables, pre-amp, cables connecting pre-amp to computer, computer with FL Studio. once you are done your editing with the studio, you will save the file as an MP3 on your computer hard disk. Simple enough. But it’s the intermediary steps from start to finish that make this a really tedious process.
Choose what type of song you want to record, and get a list of everything that you will need to begin. Essentially, each different instrument is going to be its own step by step procedure just like the last. Record, edit, re-record, edit, touch up, re-record, edit, until you finally have your ONE instrument/track finished.
3.2- Multi-tracking Interface (Fruity Loops Producer Edition)
Copyright: Image-Line Studios
Tool Bar – The Tool Bar is where you will find the various tools for clipping, slicing, copying and pasting, and your general recording buttons- like start, stop, and the metronome.
Browser – This holds all of the different instruments that FL Studio provides you with. Everything from kick drums and cymbals to concert grand pianos and symphonic stringed instruments. You can play every single note for each instrument- mentioned in the Piano Roll below.
Channel Window & Step-sequencer – This is where you make your different instruments to make a “track” for the playlist. Think of combining drums… Kick drum, a few cymbals, and a snare drum. Let’s say 4 pieces of a drum kit- but only one instrument or one track. You combine the 4 pieces to create this “track” or this instrument.
Playlist – This is where you will “write” elements from your channel window and step-sequencer to fully create the song. After you have made your instruments melody, you will write the instrument/track onto here.
*note: if you do a recording of vocals or an instrument this is considered a “channel” or a track. You can put more synthesized instruments onto this track to combine them into one “clipping” for the playlist.
Mixer – This is where you will adjust the levels of your different tracks in the playlist that you’ve created. Obviously you do not want the vocals or drums to over power any of your other instruments, so this is one of the most crucial pieces. You can also adjust which side (L or R) the sound is coming from, or you can do it directly from the middle just by leaving it non-adjusted.
Piano Roll – This is where the majority of time will be spent if you are using FL Studio’s instruments to create melodies and rhythms. Think of each instrument as a piano. Whether it be a guitar or drum, violin or trumpet- the piano roll is what you use to create the different tones. Just imagine that instead of a piano, that sound is a guitar or a bass, but you can still utilize it like a piano. See the 2 images below for how this Piano Roll and MIDI Controller are used to create music.
Piano Roll: The above screen shot of my Piano Roll in my home studio shows a bunch of different notes in song that I quickly made. This is essentially how you will use the piano roll to create your track/instrument! If you can imagine how this works, basically each green segment (which you will just click in with your mouse, and drag to extend the time/length of the note) plays a key on the piano which is whatever instrument you dictate the piano to be!
3.3- Now What Do I Do With All This Stuff!?
This is where you will create all of your music! A standard song has no requirements or a set number of instruments you need. All that is really needed is that you have some musical experience or knowledge and tons of creativity- at least to make the stuff you have pay off.
Step 1– Know what you want to record or compose.
Step 2– Determine whether you need to use the external inputs to record instruments or whether the sound you are looking for can be made in FL Studio.
*Note: FL Studio adds tons of content with each new version and has a variety of plug-ins for things like “auto-tuning” and things like the “Beatles instrument pack”.
Step 3- I like to make a list of instruments I am brainstorming about for the song and see what they sound like together.
Step 4– Begin your tracking.
Step 5– Edit your tracks. The key here is to Zoom in and make sure everything is hitting at the same time. This is the most essential piece of the editing process.
Step 6– Once your melodies are created and your tracks are edited, it’s time to begin the “mixing” adjusting the levels. Each time you add an instrument or track you will need to readjust the mixing board. Each instrument is going to change the entire frequency of the song, so you will need to do the mixing after each instrument is recorded.
*Note: I recommend mixing as you go, after each instrument is there. If you save the mixing til the end, this is going to take about a week for a 8 track song. Just because it will be so difficult. While the editing takes the longest, this is CRUCIAL to success as a producer.
Step 7– Make sure your song is how you want it. Save. Voila!
3.4- Do I need instruments to be able to record/compose/edit?
No! Not at all! With the Piano Roll mentioned above, you can virtually create ANY sound you want from any instrument that FL Studio has inside of it. Also, this will work with plug-ins. Plug-ins are created by other companies and/or users who develop different editing pedals, tools, and such that FL Studio does not include.
This can be very helpful when one cannot afford a $100,000 concert grand piano. Or maybe it’s an electric guitar vintage sound through a classic vintage tube amp. Something that would cost roughly a quarter the price of the concert grand piano. So would you want to invest $25,000 for the sound for one instrument/track of 1 maybe 2 or 3 songs… Or do you just purchase a plug-in for $10 online for use with FL Studio. It’s ingenious how things work now. In fact most plug-ins are compatible with almost EVERY single studio interface. So if you run a few different types of studio interfaces, you can use the plug-ins for all your different studios.
Copyright: VST Platinum– Over 1700 plug-ins for studios.
Copyright: Image-Line Studios. The FL Slayer Guitar.
Pianissimo Plug-in for Studios. Screen shot