Fruity Loops Tutorial. Part 1

author: maddd0g date: 09/07/2006 category: the guide to
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Preamble

I know this is ultimate-guitar.com, not ultimate-techno, ultimate-synth, ect. But, there is something to learn from every style of music. Not so mention, with the right soundfonts and samples, you can write a professional sounding backing tracks for your song. (Will probably include something in a later lesson.) This program isnt the best sequencer out there, but it is easier than most, and it can produce results just about as amazing as Reason or Cubase. I used FL Studio 6 XXL. Obtain it somehow.

Using Fruity Loops

  • The Step Sequencer In order to understand this tutorial, you will need to know the basics of operating FL. When you start up FL studio you should be greeted with a screen with a bunch'a blocks on it. This is the step sequencer. The step sequencer is where you make the patterns that make up the song. The different drum parts, the different "riffs", and so on. Then you assemble this riffs in the playlist, which I will explain next. I will explain the parts. 01. This adjusts the beats per measure in this pattern. (By default it shows -- and it has 4 beats in the measure) 02. The pattern in the blocks will repeat while a piano roll sequence is playing. For example, If you set a kick to go off on each beat, but you assign a piano roll pattern to an instrument in this pattern to go for 8 beats, the 4 beat kick pattern will repeat once over the 8 beat intrument pattern (will explain better later..) 03. This little slider adjust the swing, When set all the way left, there is no swing, when all the way right, each beat is heavily accented and the notes in between each beat are kind of grouped together in a kind of triplet feel. 04. Graph editor - Controls note velocity, cut-off, resonance, ect. 05. Keyboard Editor - A worthless simplified version of the paino roll. 06. Clicking this little LED mutes the track beside it. 07. Adjusts the panning of the track (All the way left makes the sound play only in the left speaker, all the way right makes it only play in the right speaker) Defaults to center. 08. Adjusts the volume, default is 75%, and there is almost no reason it should go higher than that. Dont just go cranking up the volumes for no reason. 09. Sequencers, Add a note left clicking on one of these boxes with all a note there. Get rid of a note by right clicking. (the note will be the root for the song, more on that later) These are pretty much only used for drum tracks, you should use piano rolls for instuments. (more on that too..) 10. Drop down menu shows different sets of intruments, used for better organizing songs with alot'a synths, I dont ever use it though. 11. Little white "LEDs" show what note the sequencer is on while playing.
  • Drums I know, reading this is boring, so I'll give you a little something to do. Make sure you are editing the first pattern. (make sure the little led display with "PAT" underneath it says 1) See the kick instrument? Left click on the box at the beginning of each beat. Like so.. Hit the play button. You have just made an extremely basic drum beat. Mess around with the drum instruments you see here, left click to add, right click to remove. Dont go overboard with the drums! When you are ready to move on.. move on!
  • The top bar thing.. I dunno what to call it. 01. These little buttons switch between the pattern in the step sequencer, and the entire song in the playlist. 02. Little slider to slide through the song.. :P 03. Play, Stop, and Record. 04. Adjusts tempo, just click and move the mouse up or down. 05. Selects a step sequencer pattern. Adjusted like tempo. 06. Playlist editor. (F5) 07. Step Sequencer. (F6) 08. Piano Roll (F7) 09. Browser. (F8) 10. Mixer. (F9)
  • Basslines Now you will learn how to add a bassline using the piano roll. But, first, remove all the fiddling you did with the drums, or open a new project with File > Open. Now, put a kick on each beat, and a hihat on each offbeat, and a clap on the 2nd and 4th beat. like so. Click play to see how it sounds. Nice and simple. Now, for the bass. Right click on the snare, and go to Insert > BooBass. A screen will appear with the boobass settings, this synth is very basic, and only has 3 knobs, Treble, Bass, and Mid. Mess around with them if you like, and see what it sounds like with the little keyboard on the bottom. Once you are done with that, right click on the BooBass and select Piano Roll, a window will appear, it will have a keyboard on the right, and a buncha empty slots. It appears a little daunting at first, but it isnt hard at all. Basically, on the big bunch of squares next to the keyboard, you place notes. The time goes from left to right when you click play. You place notes just like you did with the drums. But now, you can drag them around, and change the notes. Make something like this. This makes an eighth note play on every offbeat at C5. Press play. Starting to sound like a song isnt it? I put the bass on the offbeat, so the mix doesnt get muddy, if I had the bass and the kick going at the same time they both take up a very similar frequency range, and things would get kind of muddy. The Kick-Bass pattern is a staple in most electronic music styles. Now go to the next measure in the piano roll, place the same pattern at F5, then the next measure should be G5, and then F5 again, A simple I,IV,V progression. Click play. Didnt sound right did it? The drums only played during the first measure didnt they? Easy fix. Toggle the little box next to the arrow at the top right of the step sequencer. (Labeled with a 2 on the diagram). Press play, and the drums should repeat every measure. CLICK HERE FOR THE IMAGE
  • Playlist Editor Press F5 to open the playlist editor. It looks kinda similar to the piano roll, but you organize patterns instead of notes. Place the pattern with the bass and drums you just made, which should have been pattern 1, so just click next to pattern one, and position it to take up the first 4 bars. Place another to take up the next 4 bars. Mouse over to the play button, but before you click play, toggle the little square with the word "SONG" next to it, to play the stuff in the playlist, instead of the one pattern in the step sequencer. Then click play. (You can click anywhere on the blackish horizontal bar with the numbers on it to skip around the song.)
  • Making A Good Synth Sound Time to program a nice lead synth! 01. Right click one of the instruments in the step sequencer and go to Insert > 3xOSC. This synth has some pretty complex controls compared to BooBass. This synth has 3 synths that play at once. (Hence the 3xosc). Press some buttons on the little piano keyboard. By default, this synth is pretty plain sounding. Lets spice it up a bit. 02. Under Osc 1 click the shape that looks like a backwards N, this changes the wave of the sound to a rough saw shape, instead of a smooth sine. Still sounds pretty plain though doesnt it? Go ahead and change all the OSCs to this shape. Osc stands for oscillator, it basically generates a very simple sound waveform in the shape you specify (The white buttons), This intrument, layers 3 oscillators over each other. The settings we just plugged are refered to as a Super Saw most of the time, these settings are very overused, and appear in hundreds of trance songs. Producers have grown sick of this preset, and most hate it to death. But, it will work for now. The Knobs next to the osc are Volume, Pan, Course Tuning (1 note at a time), and Fine Tuning (around a cent at a time, up to 50 cents in either direction). By default, the Course tunning is set to have a 3 octave harmony, and the fine tunnings are all at 0 detune. 03. On Osc 2, very slightly adjust the Fine knob to the left, and on Osc 3, move it slightly to the Right. This will create a chorus/flanger effect. The slight dissonance between the 3 oscillators makes the intument sound wider, fuller, and bit fatter. 04. At the top of the 3xOSC window, click on Misc, and toggle the box that says Porta. This will make thesynth slide from note to note, mosts lead synths sound better with a subtle slide. The knob labled slide, changes the speed of the slide, leave it at default for now. 05. At the top right of the 3xOSC click on the box label FX, and drag your mouse slightly upward, so it says 1. This routes the instrument through the first Effects channel. Press F9 to open the mixer. There should be a master, and a bunch of inserts, and 4 sends. The inserts are the places where you insert intruments to add effects, adjust volume, EQ, ect. The master add effects to the entire track. The sends are a little weird. Sounds can be sent here via plugin, or sometimes synths have options to send parts of the synth to one of the sends. I will explain the uses of the sends in a later lesson. 06. Click on Insert 1. This is the insert you just routed your new synth too. All the way to the left. There is 8 things labeled from 1 to 8, these are the 8 slots for effects. 07. Click on the arrow next to one of the eight slots, and go to Select > Fruity Reverb. Adds a reverb effect to everything in insert 1, which is only the lead synth we made. 08. On the new window click on the button in the very top right corner and go to Presets > Subtle. This will change the settings of the reverb to something more subtle. 09.Now add an effect to slot 2, Insert > Delay 2. Set the preset to Stereo Effect, and adjust the Cut knob to a little less than half way. The cut knob adjusts the effects low pass filter. This will make the higher frequencies the repeat be cut out, so the repeat isnt as pronounced as the note itself. Play around with the keyboard some more, see how it sounds. CLICK HERE FOR THE IMAGE The settings for the synth, and the effects. (Dont just copy this, there is another step, and valuable information in the above paragraph) Now, to write the lead. Got to pattern 2. I felt like doing a corny major happy riff thing. So I did. (See the pattern below)Basically, its the root of the chord in that measure, the major 3rd, and the 5th, its basically and arpeggio of the Cmajor chord. And then, you select the lasso tool from the tools at the top of the piano roll, and select all of the notes. Hit Ctrl+c to copy, scroll over to the next measure and paster, drag the notes up to F6, so it transposes to an Fmajor arpeggio. Do that for the paste and transpose to G for the next measure, and then F measure for the last measure, a simple, happy sounding major lead. Now, place that pattern in the play list matched up with the second 4bars for pattern 1. CLICK HERE FOR THE IMAGE Hit play. The bass and drums should play, and then the lead should kick in the second time around.
    These are some of the basics of Fruity Loops, the next chapters will cover more techniques I use, how to program a Sytrus synth, how to make a complete song, and how to mix and master it! Download the Fruity Loops project file here.
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