How to use FL Studio - Making music

This section covers the FL Studio desktop and basic workflow. FL Studio allows you to load instruments and samples, play these live or manually enter the note data, record external sounds (from a microphone for example) and play the whole mix back through the mixer (adding effects). The completed project can be saved to a .flp or .zip and/or exported (rendered) to .wav, .mp3 or .ogg audio.

This section covers:

We also recommend you watch the FL Studio | Getting Started YouTube playlist.

Main Windows

The FL Studio desktop is based on a number of windows, most of these are movable (with overlap), resizable, zoomable and switchable so if a window isn't visible open it using the Shortcut toolbar (or the function keys as noted in brackets). The main windows involved in FL Studio music creation are - Channel Rack (F6), Piano roll (F7). Mixer (F9) and Playlist (F5). The Browser (Alt+F8) is used to access audio files, plugins & presets (see the File setting options for adding folders elsewhere on your computer to the Browser). NOTE: If you ever need to reset the position of all windows to their default use (Ctrl+Shift+H) or see the View menu options.


Once you have mastered the FL Studio interface, the next step is to learn the procedure for creating music - the FL Studio 'workflow'. The typical steps making a track are outlined below:

1. Instruments

The Channel Rack holds instruments (plugins) that create sound and internal generators that control automation. Every pattern has access to all instruments in the rack. So, all patterns have access to all instruments in the Channel Rack. Patterns are not limited to a single instrument as they are in most other sequencers. Music data can come in the form of Step sequences and Piano roll scores. The height of the Channel Rack will change dynamically as you add and remove plugins. The Step Sequencer, ( Video Here) is a pattern-based grid sequencer ideal for creating drum loops when Channels are loaded with the native Sampler, that holds a single percussion sample per Channel.

2. Composing & sequencing

3. Arranging & editing

The Playlist sequences all the elements of the project that play to make the final song. The Playlist window is a stack of multi-purpose 'Clip Tracks' that can host Patterns Clips, Audio Clips and Automation Clips. Unlike most other sequencers, the Playlist tracks are not bound to any one instrument, audio recording or even Clip type. You can put any Clip type anywhere and even overlay Clips. Think of Clips as a little like notes in the Piano roll. When the play-head reaches a Clip, FL Studio plays whatever the Clip instructs it to do.

4. Mixing

The Channel Rack shows a Channel button for each instrument. The audio from each Channel is sent to one of the Mixer Tracks for effects processing and level mixing. After opening the instrument access Instrument Channel Settings from the Channel Settings icon. Playlist Clip Tracks are not bound to Mixer tracks, rather Channel Rack to Mixer routing decides the Mixer track/s that are used. So Instrument Channels are bound to Mixer tracks, not Playlist tracks. For example, a single Pattern Clip on a single Playlist track, could trigger every Channel Rack instrument, and so all Mixer tracks if they were routed accordingly. If you want to simulate 'traditional' sequencer workflow: Route each Instrument to a separate Mixer track. Use one Instrument Channel per Pattern Clip and use one song-length Pattern Clip per Playlist track.

5. Exporting audio

That's it, go make some organized noise!