Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Interface overview, part of Up and Running with FL Studio.
In this movie, I'd like to give you a quick overview of the FL Studio interface and the elements you'll be working with most frequently. Now, we'll be getting into much more detail with most of what I'm going to cover here throughout this course, but in this movie I just want to get our bearings. Let's start with the toolbar, which is the entire horizontal area at the top of the screen. This is where you'll open the other windows in FL Studio as well as where you'll find various commands and actions. This is a pretty non-traditional-looking interface as far as Windows applications go. For example, you'll find the minimize, maximize, and close buttons right here rather than in their usual place in the upper right- hand corner of the application window.
We have many commands that are located beneath that. We will find File, Edit, and so on. And again, this is a slightly different location than in most other applications, but not really that much of a big deal. Now at first glance, the rest of the toolbar may be a little intimidating, but fortunately, rolling your mouse over any of the items reveals the description below the menu commands. For example, I can roll over these two sliders here and see that they're the master volume control and the master pitch control. Next to that we have the Transport Display, which lets me know the point in the project I'm currently at, and I can click the buttons on the left-side of the display to switch between bars and minutes in the display.
Oh and by the way, it's entirely possible and highly likely that your toolbar doesn't look exactly like mine does here. The layout here depends a lot on the screen resolution you're using and whether you've previously rearranged any parts of the toolbar. Notice I can grab the handle next to any set of tools to move it to another location. You can also drag these tools out to make them their own floating panels. So if you don't see one of the panels I'm talking about, go to the View menu, to Toolbars, and make sure the toolbar you need is checked.
So for instance, I can hide the Transport panel and I can bring it back. Also, if you spend a lot of time messing around and rearranging your panels, you can come over to the View menu, choose Arrange Windows, and select Default to send everything back the way it was. But the Transport controls are where you find the play, stop, and record buttons. It's also where you find these two buttons here to toggle between Pattern and Song modes. And that becomes very important later on. This display here is where you set the tempo of your project.
Just click and drag up or down to increase or decrease the tempo. Now I'll be working with some of these other tools throughout this course, but I want to make sure I point out this set over here, and this is the Shortcut panel. This is how you show and hide the other panels that you'll be using most frequently in FL Studio. From here you can launch the Playlist window, which is where you assemble the individual patterns and recordings you make into tracks. Next to that is the Step Sequencer button. This window is already opened by default, and this is where you create the patterns or step sequences for your song or project.
The third button toggles the Piano Roll, which is where you create and edit note data. The next button opens the browser, which is already open by default. And it's here we can quickly access your sample collections, presets, and any projects you've previously created in FL Studio. For example, with Packs open, I can see the collection of Drums, Guitars, Orchestral, and other sounds that are available. And the last button here is for the Mixer. This is where everything comes together and where you mix and finalize your project before exporting it. Now again, we'll be taking a much closer look at all of these windows and more in the upcoming movies, but it is important to know how to open and close these windows as you need them.
It's a good idea to learn the keyboard shortcuts too. Now, it helps me to remember that there are five main windows so the keyboard shortcuts start on F5. F5 opens and closes the Playlist, F6 opens and closes the Sequencer, and so on. You'll find that it's much easier and quicker to use the keyboard shortcuts than it is to drag your mouse to the top of the screen each time you need to open or close a window. Now, just to give you a basic example of how these windows work together--and let me stress that this is just one example and how you work in FL Studio depends a lot on what you're creating.
But for example you might start by finding a sample you like in the browser such as a drum sample. You can then drag it into the Step Sequencer and add it to a channel, where you can then program it and other samples into a pattern. You could use the Piano Roll to create melodies in the Channel window. And each combination of beats and melodies is considered a pattern, and you can create multiple patterns in the Step Sequencer and then combine them in the playlist to create an entire song. For example, you might create an intro pattern followed by a verse pattern, then a chorus pattern, and so on, and then sequence them together in a playlist.
And everything you hear is running through the mixer, and you can use the mixer to modify and enhance your sounds by adjusting levels, adding effects, and so on. Now again, this is just an example of a workflow, but it should give you an understanding of how these main windows all work together. Over the following chapters, we'll dive much deeper into the individual windows to see how they work.
- Creating a new FL Studio project
- Using the Piano roll
- Creating a beat
- Recording and editing a MIDI track
- Combining patterns
- Editing audio clips
- Routing and recording with the Mixer
- Inserting plugins
- Adding compression, EQ, and delay