FL Studio slide notes. Not just for pitch bends!

FL Studio slide notes. Not just for pitch bends!

One of FL Studio’s powerful features is the ability to use slide notes in it’s piano-roll. (For their native plugins only, it doesn’t apply to 3rd party VST plugins, standard MIDI automation needs to be used with those.)

In FL Studio, slide notes morph most note properties from one to the other. From one note’s pitch to another in the piano-roll is the obvious and most used one, however there is many other possibilities. Slide notes don’t make their own noise by playing a note, there must already be a regular note playing for them to effect.

Some interesting uses of slide notes:
X to X – Frequency Cutoff or whatever X is linked to in a synth.
Y to Y – Res(Q) or whatever the Y is linked to in a synth.
Pitch – Apart from just more obvious sliding one note for another, it’s great for subtle bends, especially on strings. Also, you can easily add vibrato with slide notes pitching up and down rapidly around the original note up and down in succession.
Pan – Panning notes anywhere you like in the stereo field from hard left to hard right.
Velocity – Fade note velocities in and out anywhere from maximum level to silent.

So how it works is you choose your starting note and it’s properties. (Such as pitch,pan,velocity etc.) Draw it in as a normal note, of the length you want the whole note to play for. (Including any later bends.) Now change the piano-roll mode to slide notes. Draw your slide note in at any point from the beginning of the first note or later. (Not before.) It’s length defines how long it will take for the first note to slide, or morph properties into the slide note’s properties.

FL Studio Slide-Notes Disabled, regular note example.
A regular note in FL Studio. Slide note setting can be seen disabled in the circle.
FL Studio Slide-note example, slide notes enabled.
A slide note shown, with slide notes now enabled in the piano-roll.

You can use all of the 16 different colors in the piano-roll, to have up to 16 different simultaneously sliding notes that won’t affect each other color group. In the demonstration project I use up to 3 separate colors as an example.

Pan a note left to right and back.

Fade in and out from silence.

Bend those strings!

Change the Cutoff on a saw to make a pluck.

Make some vibrato.

You can download the project file used to make these mp3 examples here: IC_SlideNotesInFLStudio_Tutorial

The official manual is here, scroll down to the heading ‘Understanding slides and Portamento’ for more info:

http://www.image-line.com/support/FLHelp/html/pianoroll.htm

Your hi-hats suck. Can you say machine gun?

Your hi-hats suck. Why?

One word: Variation. That’s something that can often be lacking in programmed/sequenced drums. And not just the hi-hats… but particularly those, and we are going to use them for an example of how to add more natural sound variations to your hi-hats (or other drums, anything repetitive and sample based.)

First choose a medium to long hi-hat or cymbal sound. Now we will be cloning this multiple times, and changing each clone slightly so no two instances are the same. As in the video, with each clone you make, turn the OUT knob on the sampler further to the right. (Fading out the sample and making it shorter.)

After you’ve made all your clone channels, we add a layer channel and set all the hi-hats and child channels. We need to set the layer channel to RANDOM next, so they don’t all play at once, just random ones individually.

Now we have some variations, we will edit the CUT group on all the samplers to a common group number. This will make each new hi-hat note played CUT off the end off any others that are already still playing. Stops them all blurring together and overlaying over each-other.

Set Channels To Same Cut Group

So now we have many variations on the same hi-hat. Program yourself a pattern in the layer channel’s step-sequencer or piano-roll and you are good to go.

That’s a good start… However let’s take it further now. Velocities are very important. Make each hit louder and softer. ‘Real’ drummers can’t ever play the exact same sound evenly twice. Our ears soon becoming bored by the same sound and texture, in the same rhythm, at the same volume. This is what’s sometimes known as ‘The machine gun effect’.

Add variation to the note velocities

Rather than just randomly tweak volumes or velocities of individual notes, try giving it a groove. Accent the more important hits by making them loudest, and all the in between and off beats in your rhythm can be quieter.

Cutoff, Res(Q) and Fine pitch.

You can add even more subtle variations to your patterns by doing the same for other note properties. Try for example, the CUTOFF, the RES(Q), and the FINE PITCH. Though it’s probably better to be very subtle with any pitch variation. Let your ears be the judge as always.

You can download the example project here:

Your Hi-Hats Suck

Tutorials. Royalty free samples. Audio and music. Synth and FX patches.