lundi 4 juin 2012

Using Note Colors in The Piano Roll

In most of FLStudio's advertising we see multiple note colors being used in the Piano Roll, and while it does look good, the uses for multiple note colors extend far beyond the visual. This tutorial will talk about some of the practical ways to use different note colors and some of the major workflow advantages that come from it.

Let's begin with a piano melody, I recorded it in FLStudio with my midi keyboard.

Next, I am going to make a copy of the melody and have it play one octave higher, in addition to the melody already in place. This isn't the sort of thing you'd normally do with a piano part, but more likely with an ensemble of strings or brass. In order to keep track of the higher octave, let's change the color of the new piano roll notes. With the new notes selected, change the color group selection (which is the pallet of colors in the upper left) and use keyboard shortcut Alt+C (think ALTer + Color).

The main thing we've done here is to make it easier to select groups of notes in FLStudio. For example, if we wanted to apply different quantization to one of the groups or if we wanted to lower the velocity or timing of one the groups, we could easily do that. As an example, let's lower the velocity of only the green group. To do this, change the Color Group Selection in the upper-left to green, use keyboard shortcut Shift+C to select by color, and then use keyboard shortcut Alt+X for the Scale Levels tool.

Now I'll undo that velocity change because I'm going to want equal velocities in this next technique. This step will be to have the melody play in canon. Another term used for this, especially when it's a group of people singing, is "in a round."

We're going to have the upper octave begin one bar later than the lower octave. To do this, switch the Color Group Selection to Yellow, use shortcut Shift+C to select by color, and then move the melody over a bar. Here's what it sounds and looks like in FLStudio:

I copied everything four bars over to hear what it would sound like leading back into itself. The images below show the FLStudio piano roll before and after editing, and the audio file shows the result.

To help make it sound less busy, I want to move the upper octave notes to a different instrument. If I hadn't been using different note colors, this would be very difficult to do, but with note colors, it's as easy as cut-and-paste. Switch the Color Group selection, use Shift+C to select by color, and then copy the notes to the new instrument's piano roll using the FLStudio piano roll's edit menu. I'm going to use a harp because it's similar to a piano, the notes might even make it sound like a different type of piano.

Here's the example playing over a stock FLStudio loop. This piece wouldn't really work as a backing track for a vocal, but it would work well as an intro, solo, or outro.

Final tips:

If you're using a multiple-instrument module like Sampletank, Directwave, or Philharmonik, you will need to use a Midi Out channel in order to take advantage of note colors in this way. If you use a multi-timbral instrument's piano roll, the different note colors will respond to different midi channels.

Other Uses for FLStudio note color groups include separating your grace notes from your main notes, grouping the "in-between" notes in drum rolls, and best of all, easily adjusting and maintaining a group of notes.
This tutorial was written by Sean Duncan for and is published here with permission.

Hum a Melody into the Piano Roll Using Edison with FL Studio

[Editors note: Don't forget to check out the other FL Studio Tutorials articles we have]
If you've ever had a melody that you could hum, but couldn't figure out the notes, or if you want a quicker way to figure out what notes are in your melody idea, this tutorial is for you. This tutorial will show you how to hum a melody into the Piano Roll using Edison in FL Studio.
First you'll need a microphone of some sort, any can work. My laptop has a built-in mic so I'll be using that. If I wanted to use my actual humming in the song, I would definitely use a nicer mic, but the point of this technique is to get an idea out fast and easy.
Enabling the on-board microphone is easy for me, depending on your audio setup it might look different for you. If you don't have a mic on your computer, maybe you have a computer desktop mic or a high-quality microphone that you use for recording, any of these will work. If you have a hand-held recording device and would prefer to use that, you could use that to create an audio file. The point is to bring audio into Edison in some way. I'll be recording directly into FL Studio. To get set up I just open my ASIO4ALL settings ( F10 > Audio > Show ASIO panel), and enable "MicIN".

Now that I have the audio input enabled in FL Studio, I'll select Mixer Insert 1 and select one of the options from the drop-down window for "IN".

If you have headphones handy, be sure to use them to avoid the possibility of a feedback loop. A feedback loop happens when a sound is being transmitted from a microphone, into a speaker, and back into the microphone again from the speaker which goes back into the microphone into the speaker again and so on. The way I described it sounds like fun, but in actuality it's high-pitched and nasty. For this tutorial, I want to achieve this under the worst-case scenario that I don't have headphones, imagining that I'm in a classroom, and just before class starts I want to capture the inspiration even though I didn't bring headphones.

So while I record in FL Studio, I'll disable the track from sending to the master, effectively muting it, but not disabling it. This won't be necessary if you are using headphones.

Next, load an instance of Edison in the Effects Rack of the Mixer Track, and select "Record" "On Play".

You could set the tempo of FL Studio to roughly match the melody's speed. Something you might consider is humming the melody at a slower tempo so that it's easier to vocalize. If the melody you have in mind is fast and complex, you may even want to hum it at half the tempo. Once it's in the piano roll, you can change the tempo however you'd like. A good way to get the right tempo is to open FL Studio's Tap Tempo and tap along as you hum.

Next, I'll set up the recording panel to suit my situation. If I was recording with headphones, I might enable the FL Studio metronome, but because I'm not, the metronome would show up in the recording, which might complicate things when Edison analyzes the notes. Instead, I'll just go with the metronome countdown and try to stay on beat. In order for the metronome countdown to work, I'll need to enable recording mode, even though I'm not recording into the playlist or a pattern.

Since Edison is set to record on play, all we have to do is press play on the main FL Studio transport panel, listen to the countdown, and go! Although I've been saying "hum" throughout this tutorial, I do recommend vocalizing with oohs and/or ahs, to try to create as pure a sound as possible. Press stop on the main transport panel and on Edison after recording to see the file.

From looking at it, I can tell the file is very quiet, so when I normalize it there will probably be a lot of noise like my laptop's fan. To hear the file, normalize it, and enable the track's send to master if you disabled it earlier. You'll also want to disable the mic.

Alright, let's see what we got! Don't laugh at my singing... alright you can if you want to!

From here, we can have Edison send the notes to the piano roll, but that won't do us any good if we don't have an instrument to play it with, so I'll open an instance of FL Keys, you may use any instrument of your choosing.

First, make sure the instrument is open and selected, then on Edison, under Tools, there is a semi-hidden feature near the end of list that says "Analysis: Convert to Score and Dump to Piano Roll". We'll select that.

Here's the result:

Some adjustments definitely need to be made. Without getting too in-depth into music theory, I'll just say that the two notes near the beginning don't match up with the two notes near the end. The danger is that they're too close. In general, when too many notes get too close to each other, it starts sounding "off". I made a couple adjustments and moved it up an octave.

After recording, what I prefer to do is adjust the notes a bit, figure out some different phrases, and then play it from a Midi Controller or repaint it, after I've got some drums programmed. With headphones, you could wait to try humming until after drums are made, or you could even use humming to improvise an extra melody on a nearly-complete track.

You can see how humming melodies into the FL Studio piano roll can be a good way of creating a melody quickly, but until I can develop perfect pitch, it won't be how I program all my instruments. Still, it's great to get an idea out there and it can allow you to figure out the majority of the notes quicker than hunting for them.

Some final tips on humming:
  • If Edison is having trouble analyzing your notes, try a very simple version of your melody and then add more notes in the piano roll later.
  • Get very up close to the mic and try be louder than the noise around you.
  • If you don't like Edison's way of tuning, consider putting a low-cost autotune plugin like Gsnap in an effect slot before Edison.
  • Consider keeping a template project for humming sessions.
  • Save the Piano Roll Score File so that you can open it in different projects.
  • You can also use Edison for workflow improvements like beatboxing a drum beat for later so that you don't forget the rhythm while you pick the drum sounds!

This tutorial was written by Sean Duncan for and is published here with permission.

Here is a tutorialon the feature in video format:

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