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FL Studio Dashboard Explained Part 1: Piano Roll, Playlist, Mixer

August 31, 2017 - By 

FL Studio 12 has quite a complicated layout for first time producers. To help producers understand the interface we’ll be creating a simple melody as we learn about three areas of the FL Studio Dashboard: the Piano RollPlaylist, and Mixer. This is just Part 1 of my introduction to producing with FL Studio 12. I will give you Part 2 next week.

Assuming you have FL Studio 12, open it.  It should appear like this.

(If you would like a more detailed tutorial of what everything in FL Studio 12 does, I suggest you go here.)

https://www.image-line.com/support/FLHelp/html/basics_interface.htm

We will begin the composition of this simple melody by adding a high piano loop. To add the sound of a piano, click ADD on the left-top toolbar. When a menu drops, find “FL Keys.” on that menu. Click it.

An FL Keys display window should appear as shown.

Right click the top-left of this small FL Keys window, and when you see “Piano Roll” in the drop down menu, click it.

The “Piano Roll” should appear. It is a tool that allows you to compose a melody, in contrast to the drum sequencer, which only allows placing drums in the “Channel Rack.”

Compose this melody with the Piano Roll.

To add this loop to the “Playlist,” click the “Playlist – Pattern 1” link on the upper right of the screen. Select the Brush tool if it is not already selected.

With the Brush tool, place “Pattern 1” in the playlist twice as shown.

Once you place “Pattern 1” into “Track 1” twice, click the icon to the left of the “Play” button. This button allows you to either play the pattern when selected (turned orange) or when it is not selected to play the whole song. Click this button so it appears “off” to play the whole song.

Now let’s add a new pattern. Click on the “Channel Rack.” Then select the plus sign to the right of the “Pattern 1” display. You are adding a second pattern. FL Studio will require you to name this pattern. Call it whatever you want.

Right click “FL Keys” in the Channel Rack. When the drop menu appears, select Piano Roll. When the Piano Roll appears, scroll down on the Piano Roll’s window until you see C4 and C3 on its left side. Now place these notes inside the Piano Roll as shown.

You can extend or condense the duration of these notes by clicking on the right sides of the green bars and stretching them.

Now click on the Channel Rack for “Whatever you want” (the new pattern containing your new piano melody). Click the “Playlist.” Add “Whatever you want” to Track 2 of the “playlist” underneath “Pattern 1,” as shown.

Let’s add a third patternGo to the Pattern link and click the plus button. Change the name of “Pattern 3” to Drums.

Place the following drum pattern in the Channel Rack as shown below. (I hope you remember how to compose a simple drum beat from my last tutorial.)

When this drum beat is finished, and you need to drop this loop into Track 3 of the “Playlist,” make sure to insert it FOUR TIMES, not twice. It should look like this.

Now to use the Mixer, click this button as shown.

After you click that button, a mixing board display should appear. There are no tracks added to this “mixing board” yet. To add them, left click on each track on the Channel Rack. (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it.) When a window opens for each track, left click the icon on the top-left corner of that window. A drop down menu should pop out. Click“Route to free mixer track.”

After you click “route to free mixer track” for “kick,” “hat,” “snare,” and “FL Keys,” you’ve added these tracks to the mixing board. Try decreasing and increasing the volume on those tracks. Hear what happens. You can also pan the tracks left and right by dragging the black round things below the green dots to the left and right.

 

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