Music making is a bit like coding; you have to learn a whole lot of stuff first, rather than just rush into something and learn as you go along. So, if you hate reading and learning, press the back button now, because this is going to be some serious crap.
If you're new to sound and music creation/editing I advise you view My ultimate sound guide
for further help. It will explain to you a few of the effects that we'll be using here today.
Righty-ho, enough with the pleasantries, let's get down to work.
In this section I will explain the basic functions of the windows and toolbars you see before you. I will only mention the things that are important to creation of music, rather than explaining everything.
Step sequencer (coarse)
The mixer has various uses; you can control the panning, volume, audio separation, mute, or apply audio effects to the whole track (By the ‘Master’ tab) or a single channel (By the ‘Insert 1’, ‘Insert 2’, etc), and do all sorts of useful tasks.
To raise or lower the volume of a channel, you just move the slider up (to make it louder), or move the slider down (to make it quieter).
To change the panning, you move the knob left (to make it sound louder through the left channel), or right (to make it sound louder through the right channel).
To mute a channel (so it doesn’t play anything), press that little green button on the channel. When a channel has been muted, the little green button will turn grey.
To apply VST effects you click on the box with the arrow (to the right of the screen) go to ‘Select’ and then you choose an effect that you want to add. You’ll have to learn what each individual effect does to get music to sound how you want it too. If you want to remove a VST effect, click on the box arrow again, go to ‘Select’ and click on ‘None’. To mute a VST effect, click on the little green button which is next to the effect you want muted, when the effect is muted, the button will be grey.
To the right you can see these things:
There is a box with a white line running through it. This is a graphic equaliser. Move the slider which is closest to the box up or down to boost or lower the bass / ‘low shelf’. Move the middle slider up or down to boost or lower the mid / ‘peaking’. Move the end slider up or down to boost or lower the treble / high shelf.
To the top right of the Graphic equaliser, there are two knobs and two sets of arrows surrounded by a boxes.
The top one controls the Stereo separation effect. This effect basically makes your music/channel sound mono (if turned to the far right) or a weird kind of stereo sound (if turned to the far left). You can click the box with the arrows in it to make the effects swap channels (the knob has to be to the left to be able to hear the change) (mono/stereo channels, not the channels I was talking about before).
The bottom button controls the panning of the channel. You can already do this with via the Master/Channel bar, so it’s obsolete really.
To the very bottom right, there is a box with a Christian shaped cross in it. This is the volume and panning of the channel in Graphical form. Again, I find this obsolete because you can do it via the Master/Channel bar.
I won’t tell you about the buttons on here which are obvious or unimportant.
The Slider to the left is the Master Volume slider. Again, this is obsolete because it can be done by the Master/Channel bar.
The Slider to the right is the pitch. Move it up to raise the pitch, move it down to lower the pitch.
The bottom (non-pressable) button is the Midi input detection button. If you have something like a midi keyboard hooked up to your computer, it shows you that it’s been detected by FL Studio.
The first grey button plays what is selected.
The second grey button stops playing what is being played.
The blue-black button with the circle records from both your microphone, or your midi keyboard (or normal keyboard when ‘Typing to keyboard’ is enabled). If you want to record from your microphone only, don’t press a key on your midi keyboard (or keyboard when ‘Typing to keyboard’ is enabled). If you want to record from your midi keyboard/keyboard only, then simply start playing on your midi keyboard/keyboard. Don’t worry, FL Studio will choose one over the other, rather than mixing them both together.
The little box which says ‘PAT’, is short for ‘Pattern’. This means that it will play the pattern / notes in the Step sequencer. If you want it to play the whole song (The bars in the bar sequencer, and the automation clips in the step sequencer (coarse)), then select the button which says ‘SONG’ next to it.
The green-blue box which says ‘TEMPO’ underneath, controls how fast the speed / ‘tempo’ of your song. Lower values, mean your song plays slower. Higher values means your song plays faster. You should select the tempo according to your music style. For example, normal dance music is 140 BPM (beats per minute / tempo), hip hop, is 120 BPM, and Trance/Techno is usually 160 BPM. Though, of course, you don’t have to have it this speed.
The green-blue box which says ‘PAT’ underneath is in my opinion obsolete. It allows you to select a pattern numerically. I find it easier and quicker just to select the pattern via the Bar sequencer.
The top left button is the ‘Typing to keyboard’ button. Basically, if you have a VST generator loaded up, you can press a key on your computer keyboard to play a note like a real keyboard/piano. ‘Q’ (as well as the ‘<’ button) is the note ‘C5’, ‘Z’ is the note ‘C4’. ‘I’ is the note ‘C6’ The number row, and middle row of keys act as the Black notes on the Keyboard/Piano.
The button next to that is ‘Count down before recording’. Pretty self-explanatory, when you press the record button, it will count down with a metronome, with 3 clicks.
The button next to that is ‘Blend recorded notes with existing data’. This means that if you record yourself playing some notes, and you already have notes on the track, both of those will be merged together. If you don’t have this enabled, if you record notes onto a track with a track which has notes on already, it will remove the pre-existing notes.
The bottom left button is the ‘Metronome’ button.