How to create music in FL Studio: interesting tricks

    Today I want to talk about what basic techniques are used to create music in the program FL Studio. I myself write music and use various tools to process it, including products from Image-Line (“FL Studio” and “Deckadance”), and I enter its Power Users List (on this list I am the only musician from Russia) . In this topic, I will talk about how to use the layering technique (for example, percussion parts and vocals), as well as how to prepare the recorded vocals for further processing.


    This technique is often used by music producers. It so happened that music producers in Russia are essentially managers of artists, in the rest of the world, producers are people who create music in so-called sequencers (music creation programs for music). For example, Lady Gaga, even if she knows how to compose songs, cannot create the final product herself, and the very producers help her with this. One of the most famous producers who worked with her is RedOne.

    So, back to the layering. This technique is used to give full sound to any of your instruments, as well as to the track as a whole. Most often it is used when creating a part of percussion and vocal parts. First, consider layering as an example of a drum part.

    Layering when creating shock parts.I write acoustic and electronic music using libraries of pre-recorded samples. Such libraries contain sounds recorded in a professional studio, access to which is not always available for novice musicians and producers. An example of such sounds can be one hit in a barrel, clap, percussion drum and other similar things. Such libraries can be easily found freely available or for sale on the Internet. They are called One Shot Samples or One Shot Libraries.

    It is also justified to use the already recorded shock loops. They usually are already complete and ready-made versions of drums and can be divided into parts (for example, barrels separately, plates separately, percussion separately, tambourines separately), and if you put them together, you get a full-fledged drum part. They are called “Drum Loops” and are available in large numbers on the Internet. Among other things, there are many programs with ready-made drum libraries, a vivid example of which are “XLN Audio Addictive Drums”, “Spectrasonics StyleRMX”, “Native Instruments Machine” and others.

    Consider the layering of the main barrels (“kick”) in the figure below. In order to get a rich and dense barrel sound, I use three different variations of them. Studio Drum (Studio Kick), a sample of an acoustic drum from the library of ready-made drums (Acoustic Kick) and an electronic generated drum (Electronic Kick).

    Each of these barrels has its own sound, but together they begin to sound much denser than individually. When combining various drums, it must be borne in mind that they may not be combined together, so sometimes you have to subject them to equalization. In the figure below, one of the barrels (left) has low bass frequencies removed, and it creates a so-called clap or click in the upper frequency range, while the other focuses on low frequencies, and it fills the bass component.

    When combining drums composed of “One Shot” samples, you can use programs such as “Native Instruments Battery” or “Image-Line FPC”. There you can set the volume of each of the instruments, spread them across the panorama. The figure below shows 3 barrels combined in one cell of the Image-Line FPC programs.

    In addition, layering of ready-made parts of percussion loops is often used in music production. In my musical practice, I use both of these approaches, namely: I myself compose a part of the drum part from “One Shot” samples, and I fill part with the ready-made drum loops that I selected from special libraries or programs. In the example below, 6 levels of drums compiled by me are highlighted in green (3 barrel levels, one cotton, closed plates and metal percussion), as well as 4 levels of finished shock loops painted in blue. Together, they make up the complete percussion part of the song used in the chorus. Such an integrated approach allows you to get a more complete drum sound.

    Work with vocals

    Initial vocals processing. Consider the processing of vocals at the initial stage, and then we will talk about layering vocals. Naturally, the first thing you need to record vocals. To do this, I use the “Edison” plugin built into FL Studio. To record vocals, you need to select the input channel to which your microphone is connected, and then add the “Edison” plug-in to the same channel, set the “NOW” and “IN NEW PROJECT” switches, then press the record button and record your vocals (everything is indicated in the pictures below).

    Do not rush to save vocals immediately after it is recorded. First you need to get rid of the extra noise that your microphone, wires, audio card, and also the sound sources in the room usually give out. To do this, try to be silent for a while after recording vocals, thereby leaving a small area from which it will be possible to read the noise generated during recording. Then select this area and open the “Clean Up Tool”, as shown in the figure below.

    Then the plug-in will need to compose a so-called “noise map”, which it will exclude from your vocals. To do this, click the Acquire noise profile button.

    Then close the “Clean Up Tool”, select all the vocals that you recorded, open the “Clean Up Tool” again (the areas where the most noise was recorded will be green), set the “Amount” value to about the middle and press “Accept”.

    Then (in the "Edison" window) you will see and hear that your vocals have noticeably cleared.

    Now let’s figure out how to remove too loud consonants “C” and “Z” from your vocals. In production, this process is called De-essing. De-essing can also be done using plug-ins (for example, “AVOX Sybil” or “Fabfilter Pro-C”), but this process can also be done manually. This is true because many plug-ins for de-essing are nevertheless processed and thereby distort your entire vocals, not just consonants, and you can use the “manual” approach to leave the rest of your recordings intact.

    To do this, upload your vocals to Edison. Switching to the spectral view (as shown below):

    ... you will see loud sounds “C” and “Z” (marked in the figure below):

    Then select in “Edison” one of the sections where the consonants are located and open “Equalize”, there you will see this section in more detail. Usually voiced consonants range from 5K to 15K. Cut these frequencies, set “Mix” to about 50% and click “Accept” (everything is shown in the figure below).

    Next, you need to do this procedure with all voiced consonants "C" and "Z". You can also do it with loud breaths, only you need to equalize the entire frequency range (in fact, just make them quieter).

    Layering when creating vocal parts. Now consider the technique of layering, which can and should be used to create vocal parts. Well-known backing vocals - this, in fact, is the layering. However, there are several different approaches to this issue.

    The first approach is that you invite backing vocalists, or you yourself perform your backing. The advantages of this approach are obvious, the real voice is still impossible to replace with anything. Cons: you will need both a recording studio and good backing vocalists. Next, the recorded vocals are added to the lead vocals without an exact time adjustment (that is, the vocals may sound a little different, but not very much).

    The second approach is that you can use programs such as Antares Autotune or Image-Line Pitcher to create harmonic backing vocals with only one main vocal part. I will briefly describe the process of creating these backs.

    First you need to record the main vocal part (the so-called “Lead Vocal”). Then process it (about vocals processing we will go a little lower) and import into FL Studio. Next, you need to send vocals to the effects channel where the Pitcher is located, as described below.

    The following indicators must be set in Pitcher: turn on the MIDI button (when you turn on this button, the port number appears in the lower left corner, you need to remember it), and the HARMONIZE button. You can also set the “Replace-Mix” switch to one of two positions. The “Replace” position completely removes the main vocals and leaves only the harmonics generated by the plugin. As you might guess, the Mix position leaves both your vocals and the generated harmonics.

    Then you need to add “MIDI out” to the tools, and in its settings specify the port that was previously indicated in the lower left corner of the Pitcher.

    Then, by opening the “Piano Roll”, you can set harmonics for generation (by a plugin). You need to specify the notes that the plugin will generate based on your main vocals, and arrange them in time so that they coincide with the main vocals and create the correct harmonics, for example, as shown in the figure below.

    The advantages of this approach are the simplicity and speed of creating harmonics, as well as the fact that these harmonics will accurately copy your vocals, so you won’t have to adjust it to the location in the mix for a long time. Well, the main drawback of this approach is the sound of these backs. Like it or not, you won’t get rid of synthesized sound.

    The third way is to combine both approaches. Even with only one vocalist (in my case it’s myself), you can get big, full and realistic vocal parts. All you need is to create suitable harmonics using the method described above. Then you need to remember how your harmonics sound. To understand and hear how only harmonics sound, in the Pitcher program you need to set the switch to “Replace” and remember the harmonics sound, and then try to play them yourself. At first, it may be unusual to sing such backing vocals, because you need to sing them as evenly as possible throughout their length and try to remove excess expression and “walking” from the notes from your vocals. If you don’t hit the notes at any moment, You can tweak your backing vocals in Celemony Melodyne Editor or Image-Line Newtone. Real vocals, even extremely processed with these plugins, will still sound more realistic than the generated harmonics.

    It is clear that the more layers of backing vocals, the more fully the vocal part sounds. But it’s important to remember that each time singing the same way will not work, and sometimes one phrase will sound longer than the other, etc. Therefore, backing vocals need to be arranged exactly according to your lead vocals (as indicated in the figure below).

    As you can see, each backing vocals is adjusted to the others and to the leading vocals. If this is not done, the whole vocal part will sound like a mess. Sometimes, I use up to 10 layers of vocals (for example, when creating a choir in a song), and therefore it is doubly relevant for me. I hope you find my advice helpful. You can listen to the results of how I myself use these tricks on my Soundcloud , and you can also take part. in my campaign on Indiegogo - do not count for rude advertising and thank you for your attention!

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