FL Studio 9 Audio Mixer Bellevue NE

FL Studio 9 introduces a new tool called the Riff Machine that self-generates melodies using a randomlyselected instrument (see Figure 1 on page 56). You can choose to just throw the dice and create a randomized lead, but if you look inside its more advanced parameters, you’ll find analog-style controls for manipulating all of the specifics of the rules it uses to come up with riffs. Read on.

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FL Studio 9 Audio Mixer

handson_flstudio9

It’s a strange thing that the word “toy” has come to have negative connotations in music tech. Apparently, we want our music tools to be big and powerful, like a chainsaw, ideally emitting manly gasoline fumes. But when we talk about music, we use the word “play.”

FL Studio is nothing if not a toybox. But it’s a toybox in the best sense. It’s a sometimes- unrelated collection of instruments and effects, ranging from basic elements of synthesis to instruments you could lose yourself in for hours, equipped with an array of arrangement, mixing, and creation facilities. Its interface is strange and unmistakable, and sometimes baffling to newcomers, but it’s also a program that’s on a mission: It seems dead-set on keeping you plugged into the program until you’ve cracked a smile and made something, even if it’s something you didn’t expect. FL Studio 9 isn’t a radical upgrade, but its attention to detail and computer-friendly controls continues a long tradition of the program known popularly as Fruity Loops.

RUT-BUSTING WORKFLOW

FL Studio’s main screen, as in past versions, focuses on an unorthodox overview of tracks that encapsulates a push-button step sequencer, piano-roll pattern editor, and parameter pattern editor into a single view, along with basic volume and pan settings. [See our Feb. ’10 issue for a tutorial on FL’s piano roll editor. —Ed.] One of FL Studio’s strengths is that it lets you use a single view like this as a sketchpad, a jumping-off point for more detailed work in other views. If you’ve ever suffered from blank-page syndrome, where the sheer number of options and emptiness of a default project file make you wonder how to get your creative juices flowing, FL Studio is worth a look.

If you’re still stumped, FL Studio 9 introduces a new tool called the Riff Machine that self-generates melodies using a randomlyselected instrument (see Figure 1 on page 56). You can choose to just throw the dice and create a randomized lead, but if you look inside its more advanced parameters, you’ll find analog-style controls for manipulating all of the specifics of the rules it uses to come up with riffs. You can choose from pre-selected patterns, or use Fruity Loops Score files of your own — meaning the Riff Machine can be a great way to turn a sketchbook of melodic ideas into actual tracks. Arpeggiators, melodic inversion and retrograde, humanization, and groove parameters, along with tools for fitting chordal sequences and harmonic parameters, let you shape the melody the way you want. It’s all great fun, and once you get deeper into it, can be adjusted to your own musical tastes.

What FL Studio doesn’t do is provide the sort of track overview to which users of more conventional DAWs are accustomed. In its place, the FL Studio Playlist can become a powerful means of assembling arrangements from patterns, not only for the beat-inclined, but for anyone who likes toying around with compositional schemes. For big-picture arrangeme...

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