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FL Studio Tutorial - The FL Studio Piano Roll

Blckbxxx | 7:36 AM | 8 kommentarer

FL Studio tutorial explaining the piano roll view.

imageThe Piano Roll is one of the central views in FL Studio. If you are not at all familiar with this view and other important views (such as Step Sequencer and Playlist), I recommend you first check out the tutorial listed below:

Recommended reading: Step Sequencer, Playlist and Piano Roll

Now, assuming that you have a clue what the Piano Roll is about, we will have a closer look at the most common features it has to offer. While not discussing every cool feature, after this tutorial you should be able to create complex note event patterns quickly.

Let’s start with some concepts. Have a look at the screenshot below:

 

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You may think ‘holy cow, that is a lot of stuff. Can I not just start drawing or something?’. We’ll come to that in a minute, but for the sake of understanding and making sure we ‘speak the same language’, I’ll first explain the concepts shown above.

  • Note events – this is what it is all about, to create patterns of note events. Each note event represents a note for the channel in question and controls when a sound will be played.
  • Keyboard – This is what it says it is, a keyboard. Helps you to place your note events.
  • Piano Roll options – Via this menu you can access various options for managing, arranging and editing your note event patterns.
  • Quick tools – A quicker way to get access to often used tools (also accessible via the Piano Roll options).
  • Toolbar – Has a set of buttons that determine the drawing mode you are in. Your possible options are Draw, Paint, Delete, Slice, Select, Zoom, Playback and Snap to Grid.
  • Target Channel – This shows the channel to which the Piano Roll applies. You can switch between channels in this drop down box.
  • Target Control – This shows the control that is currently displayed in the Integrated Event Editor (lower part of the screen). You can switch between controls in this drop down box.
  • Zoom time – Allows you to zoom in and out (horizontally, which represents the time).
  • Integrated Event Editor – The place where you can edit a number of note event properties, such as velocity, panning, etc.

Now that we can name and identify the main aspects, let’s approach it a bit differently. In essence, what we want to do in the Piano Roll is create a pattern of note events, for instance for our lead melody, bass line or drum beats. Have a look at the arpeggiated trance lead that I created:

 

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"Arpeggio is a broken chord where notes are spread out and played after eachother in a sequence rather than simultaneously. This is quite a common technique to which I will quite definitely dedicate some other tutorial. I use it here for the purpose of illustrating how to use the various tools in the Piano Roll."

In the toolbar, click the Draw or Paint button. Then place a note event by left-clicking. Subsequently, move the mouse pointer over the right-edge of the note event until it changes. See below:

 

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Left click and hold the mouse button down while you drag the pointer to the right. Release when the note event has the appropriate length. See below:

 

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This is the how you change the length of a note event. Note that your selection in the Snap to Grid menu (in the toolbar) influences the increments in note event length. Try to play around with this a bit (e.g. choosing cell, line, 1/6 step, 1/2 step in the Snap to Grid menu) so you understand what Snap to Grid does.

Now, the Piano Roll remembers the properties of the last note event you worked with, so the following is a piece of cake.

 

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I simply clicked the grid where I wanted my note events to start. If you happen to wonder how come I can see the entire progression, then that is because I used the Zoom time control to zoom out a little. Check out the first screenshot to find its location. You can zoom in and out by right clinking and while you hold down the mouse button use PgUp and PagDown. Alternatively, you can left click and while you hold down the mouse button you move the mouse up or down. Try this out because you will need it as your patterns become longer and more complex.

By the way, you will hardly place every single note event exactly where you want it upon first click, so moving note events around is one of the most common operations. Moving note events is done by placing your mouse pointer on top of the note event (having the Draw or Paint button selected), left click and while you hold down the mouse button move the note event. See below:

 

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OK, so now we have the basic progression. What I did next is chop the note events using the very handy Chop tool. To do this, you must first select all four note events.  To select note events, you must first click the Select button in the toolbar. After that you can simply draw a box around the note events that you want to select (hold down the left mouse button and draw the box).

 

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An alternative method is to left click the note events while you hold down the SHIFT key.

With the note events selected you can now apply operations to them simultaneously. What we will do is open the Quick tools menu and select Chop (or use ALT-U). This will have the following effect:

 

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Cool isn’t it? You an tweak the Time mul knob on the chopper dialog so your new note events have the appropriate length. See below:

 

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Now, select every second note event (hold down SHIFT key while you click on the note events) starting from the second note event. See below:

 

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Now I move the selected events one octave up by holding down the CTRL key and pressing the ‘arrow up’ key on your keyboard. The whole selection moves up.

 

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Play around a bit with these combinations: SHIFT ArrowUp/ArrowDown and CTRL ArrowUp/ArrowDown. You will see how easy it is to move your note events. Naturally, you can always move note events around as explained earlier, by simply dragging them to a new position.

The remainder I did by moving one or more note events at a time, so no magic features here.

 

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Is this all? Well, no. But these are the basic operations that you will be using a lot. Let’s have a look at some of the other features.

You can copy existing note events by using the Edit | Copy and Edit | Paste options in the Piano Roll options menu (or use CTRL-C and CTRL-V). First, select the note events you want to copy and then choose copy. See below:

 

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Now that we have the Edit menu open, have a look at the other options (Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Delete all, Shift left, Shift right, Transpose up, etc.). We already tried the Transpose one octave up, remember? Well this is where these operations are hidden in the menus ;)

Ok, back to copying. After you have selected Copy, you can go back to the menu and select Paste. See below:

 

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Now, be a bit careful. The copied note events are sometimes pasted on top of existing note events. See below:

 

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Let’s transpose them up a bit (SHIFT ArrowUp).

 

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Of course, I can move the note events to any place I want.

I mentioned it a bit earlier, note events have properties. More precisely, a note event has a a start time, a duration and settings for panning, velocity, note release, note filter cutoff frequency, note filter resonance and fine pitch. Start time and duration are determined by where you ‘draw’ your note event and how long it is, so do not worry about that. I do work with panning and velocity quite regularly, however, and these properties only get a default (or last used) value whenever you draw a note event.

There are two ways to edit note event properties: Either in the Integrated Event editor or in the Note properties dialog. Go ahead and double-click a note event (having the Draw or Paint button in the toolbar selected).

 

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I rarely use this dialog though as it is cumbersome to set properties one note event at a time. Have a look at the screenshot below:

 

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The lower part of the screen (with the vertical green bars) is the Integrated Event editor. Each bar reflects the velocity of the corresponding note event (the bar is placed directly under the note event). Why velocity? Well, have a look at the top of the screenshot. The Target control says ‘Velocity’. So now you understand the relation between the Target control and the Integrated Event editor.

The cool thing with the Integrated Event editor is that I can ‘draw’ in it. See below:

 

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Simply left click at the left most bar and move the mouse to the right while holding down the mouse button. You will see how you can quickly alter the velocity for a whole range of note events. Naturally, you can also click one bar at a time to adjust its height – thereby adjusting the velocity for one note event.

Well, the latter statement requires some more elaboration. If you have multiple note events that start at the same time (but with different pitch) then you cannot distinguish one bar from the other as the bars are placed directly below the note events. This implies you cannot manipulate them individually. That’s where the Note properties dialog comes in handy. So, while I typically use the Integrated Event editor, I do use the Note properties dialog sometimes in case note events overlap and I want to manipulate their properties individually.

I think I call it a day for now. There is much more to tell about the Piano Roll view, but I am sure I will cover them in other tutorials one way or another. I already promised you something on arpeggiating, didn’t I?

 

Hope this FL Studio tutorial was helpful to you. Feel free to leave any comments. Happy composing!

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

8 kommentarer

  1. Bewley says:

    Great tutorial! Very easy to understand and very informative. Look forward to many more and good luck with the site.

  2. jack says:

    fantastic tutorial!helped me a lot!thanx and please keep going....

  3. Jim W says:

    Just what I needed to know! Thank you!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I closed the event editor window and I can't figure out for the life of me how to get it back!!! Help!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cool article. Very informative

  6. 9axis says:

    Perfect tutorial for absolute beginners. Very well executed in very simple and descriptive language...Thanks

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you many many thanks for me and you. thank you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    "If you have multiple note events that start at the same time (but with different pitch) then you cannot distinguish one bar from the other as the bars are placed directly below the note events. This implies you cannot manipulate them individually."

    Actually you can manipulate them individually by selecting only the notes we want to change.They will appear in red and in the event integrator we can draw only the selected red events ;)