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So what exactly is FL Studio?

Blckbxxx | 10:11 AM | 0 kommentarer


FL Studio – formally known under the name Fruity Loops - is music production software for creating and managing songs. I am not going to swamp you with too many technical terms and explanations since that would go beyond the scope of this article. Theoretical knowledge is not needed to get started and produce great music. Personally, I used my time to compose, compose and compose, not to read dull manuals.

Nevertheless, it is helpful to understand a few basics.

What is sound?

Sound is a vibration or wave of air molecules, for instance generated by loudspeakers. It contains energy and can make things move, like your eardrums. And if it strikes something solid it will bounce back and you may hear an echo.

Another definition is that sound is a combination of perceptions, such as the perceptions of pitch (related to the frequency – or frequencies - of the vibration), loudness (related to the amplitude of vibrations) and timbre, which is the perceived characteristic/color of the sound (related to the spectrum and envelope of the vibration). The latter is what people use to distinguish – let’s say - a saxophone from a guitar.

The physical characteristics of the vibration – I mentioned frequency, amplitude, spectrum and envelope – can be expressed in the form of a so called waveform. A clear sound can be depicted as a so-called sine wave:

The wavelength determines the frequency. The frequency range for human hearing is said to be from 20-20.000 Hz (number of cycles per second).

Now, in reality, the notes produced by instruments are composed of disctinct frequencies, where the lowest frequency is called the fundamental. The pitch produced by this frequency is used to name the note.

So, what causes the distinct sound characteristics of different instruments? This is caused by the overtones (series of waves with higher frequencies) it produces and their respective amplitudes. Take a look at the waveform depicted below:


Certainly not as smooth as the sine wave right? Well, it is a waveform produced by a violin and its sound is distinctly different from the one produced by the sine wave.

That’s interesting. You could say that the overall shape is dependent on the overall spectrum of frequencies with their respective amplitudes. Let’s have a look at the wave form produced by a piano.


It is smoother than the one produced by a violin, yet distinctly different from the sine wave.

Where does FL Studio come in?

Now this is the cool thing. With the help of FL Studio you can essentially generate any waveform. This means you can produce sounds that are characteristic for different instruments and even sounds that are characteristic for…well, computer music. Do you get the point?

Does this mean you will need to tweek and tweek until you get the right wave form? No, because FL Studio comes with many presets (instruments) that you can drop right into your compositions. But if you want, you can have fun with tweeking wave forms until dawn.

FL Studio is more than merely a waveform-generator. It is a digital audio workstation (your virtual studio). What we can do in FL Studio is make entire compositions, i.e. create loops (e.g. melodies) of sounds and sequence/arrange them in one or more tracks. We can create a drum loop, sequence it in track X, create a bass loop, sequence that in track Y, create a melody loop and sequence that in track Z, etc. etc. The sky is the limit as a popular saying goes.

FL Studio also has a large quantity of effects. Such effects can be used to transform sounds (waveforms) in amazing ways – and there is virtually no limitation as effects can be combined. To illustrate, you could apply equalizers, delays (for echo) and compressions to a single instrument (let’s say a piano) to create an entirely different sound sensation. I have yet to fully grasp the sound + effect = result formula (actually I think I never will), but that does not prohibit me from tweeking the tweekable. One thing is certain. Effects play a central role in all my compositions.

FL Studio also operates as a so-called VST host, which means you can add instruments and effects to the program via external VST plugins (both commercial and freeware plugins exist). Initially, this is not so important as I found that FL Studio comes with plenty instruments and effects out-of-the-box. However, as I practiced along and wanted to upgrade my sounds, this particular feature comes in very handy. More about that in other articles.

FL Studio allows you to save your compositions (not in the trial version though) in a proprietary format. You can also export your projects to a number of other formats, most notably MP3.


FL Studio Tutorials - All fl studio tutorials are written by Marc Demar

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