Piano roll

FL Studio's Piano roll has the well deserved reputation as the best Piano roll in the business (with good reason). The Piano roll's purpose is to send note and automation data to plugin instruments loaded on the Piano roll's Channel. This is known as 'sequencing'. There are a number of useful tools that aid complex score editing and other manipulations as described below. Note pitch is displayed on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis. This is the exact principle as paper 'Piano rolls' used to automate player-pianos in former times. The resolution of the grid is user-selectable (zoomable) and allows the composition of songs with unlimited complexity. Note data can be entered manually with the editing tools or recorded in from 'live' MIDI controllers, then edited to fix mistakes or make changes.

Piano roll Basics

NOTES: Beware the 'F10 > General Settings > Click-and-hold functions in piano roll' option on the General settings tab. It's functions include: Copy note: Hold on an existing note to copy it. Cycle slide/porta: Click and hold when adding a note to cycle through slide & porta event modes. Glue notes: Place the cursor between 2 neighbor notes, so the resize cursor appears, then click and hold to glue them. Mouse wheel velocity: Use mouse wheel while holding notes to change velocity. Mouse wheel tools: Change tools by holding right click and rolling the wheel. Time Markers - When set to type Pattern length (Right-click a marker) Time Markers will define the length of the currently selected Pattern.

Piano roll Controls

Using the Piano roll

FL Studio has, arguably, the most powerful Piano roll editor available. Combined with the Piano roll menu you will find the possibilities are endless and (after practice) effortless.

NOTE: Many of the movement and draw commands are constrained by the snap setting that controls how notes move relative to the Piano roll grid. Hold the (Alt) key to temporarily bypass snap. Important also, the Global snap setting can be used for MIDI input quantizing.

Selection Stretch Handle

After making a selection the Stretch Handle appears. You can click and drag this to stretch the selected notes. Hold the (Alt) key to apply snap settings. Alternatively, hold (Right-Shift) key then click on the right-side of a note in the group and drag.

Mouse Wheel Property Note Changes

Hold your mouse over the note and hold (Alt+Mouse Wheel) to change the currently selected note property. To see the property being adjusted maximize the vertical zoom.

Note Properties & Event Editor

The note properties editor gives you access to a number of per-note properties and event data velocity, pan, release, Mod X & Y (where supported), pitch etc. Select the data to be edited with the Target control, as shown below.

Note properties - are displayed as vertical lines with a small circle at the top. The right-facing tail allows you to see the independent values of notes with the same start time. Note properties move with the notes they belong to. The editor can also display standard Event Automation associated with the pattern. NOTE: To edit the properties of a note when it has the same start time as others, make a selection first, then edit the property for the note (as shown above in red).

Note events - When editing Automation Events the editor works in the same way as the Event Editor.

Waveform Helper View

Sometimes it is useful to closely align notes with an audio waveform. For example when using Fruity Vocoder or Pitcher. To show the waveform drag from a waveform preview and drop on the Piano roll. To switch the view on and off after this, use (Alt+N).

Understanding Slides & Portamento

The following ONLY applies to native FL Studio instruments. To slide a VST instrument automate the channel pitch knob. The Piano roll can slide notes from one pitch to another using slide notes above or below the notes to be affected. Slide notes have a small triangle drawn at the start of the note.

NOTE: The General settings Click-and-hold & special gesture functions activate cycle slide/porta. Click and hold when adding a note to cycle through slide & porta event modes.

How slide notes work

When the slide note is reached the pitch of any overlapping notes will start sliding toward the slide note, reaching the same pitch at the end of the slide note event. The length of the slide note controls the duration of the slide. Chords - If notes are overlapping so they form part of a chord, the topmost note is used as the reference for the pitch offset (see picture below). The chord slides so the topmost note reaches the same pitch as the slide note. After the slide event ends, notes still remain offset from their original pitch.

NOTE: Slide events have all the usual note properties (velocity, panning, cutoff and resonance, etc). During slides all note properties move toward those set in the slide note. Slides themselves do NOT produce sound, although they allow preview when created/moved.

How portamento notes work

The Portamento command applies only to the transition from one note to the next. That is, causes a quick slide at the transition between notes. The effect is most audible when large tone intervals are made between the notes. The Portamento indicator should be set on the note to receive the portamento effect.

Color Groups (Slides, MIDI, Editing)

You can draw notes and slides in 16 color shades based on green, cyan, pink and yellow. To select the note/slide color, click the appropriate button on the color group selector. The color does not affect sound, it is used for independent processing of notes in the Piano roll, these include:

NOTE: Some plugins use note colors for special functions. For example Harmless, Harmor and Slicex.

Note Properties Dialog

The Note Properties pop-up is an alternative way to set notes properties. It's particularly useful when you need to set different properties for notes that start simultaneously (so their properties appear as one in the integrated event editor). Double-click a note to display the properties pop-up box.

Piano roll Menu

This menu provides many important functions for working with the Piano roll, such as copying and pasting notes, converting color groups, etc. You can access Piano roll's menu by clicking the Piano roll menu button. For more information, see the Piano Roll menu page.

Multi-touch Gestures

See FL Studio User Interface > Multi-touch support

Piano roll keyboard shortcuts

Piano roll action
NOTE: Some keyboard modifiers apply only to Draw mode ().
B Paint tool
C Slice tool
D Delete tool
E Select tool
F Show next property in the Piano roll event lane (lower section)
M Toggle Keyboard view mode
O Toggle Portamento
P Pencil tool
T Mute tool
Y Playback tool
Z Zoom tool
Alt Bypass snap (very useful when combined with other modifiers)
Alt+A Arpeggiator
Alt+B View note helpers
Alt+C Change color of selected note/s (to selected color group)
Alt+E Riff machine
Alt+F Flam
Alt+G Ungroup selected notes
Alt+K Open Limit tool
Alt+L Open Articulate tool
Alt+N Switch waveform helper view (when available).
Alt+O Open LFO tool when in lower Event Editor area
Alt+Q Quantize
Alt+R Open Randomize tool
Alt+S Open Strum tool
Alt+U Open Chop tool
Alt+V Toggle Ghost channels ON/OFF
Alt+W Open Claw Machine tool
Alt+X Open Scale Levels tool
Alt+Y Open Score Flipper tool
Alt+Mouse wheel Change the selected note property of the note the mouse pointer is near or on.
Ctrl+A Select All
Ctrl+B Duplicate selection, or all notes in zoom range if nothing is selected, to the right. Works also with time-line selections.
Ctrl+C Copy selection
Ctrl+D Deselect selection
Ctrl+G Glue selected and touching notes
Ctrl+I Insert current controller value
Ctrl+L Quick legato
Ctrl+M Import MIDI file
Ctrl+Q Quick Quantize
Ctrl+U Quick Chop
Ctrl+V Paste selection
Ctrl+X Cut selection
Ctrl+Alt+G Grid Color
Ctrl+Alt+Home Toggle allow resizing from left
Ctrl+Delete Delete space equal to selection
Ctrl+Enter Select time around selection
Ctrl+Insert Insert space equal to the current time-line selection
Ctrl+Up-Arrow/Down-Arrow Transpose selection UP/Down 1 Octave
Ctrl+Left-Arrow/Right-Arrow Select time before (left) or after (right) current selection
Ctrl+Left-click Select
Ctrl+Shift+Left-click Add to selection
Ctrl+Right-click Zoom on selection/Drag to make zoom selection (zoom on release)
Del Delete selected
2 x Left-click note Open note properties
2 x Right-click or X1 button on Ghost note Swap to Ghost channel to edit the note.
Left-Shift+Left-click (on Piano roll) Add and resize notes (move mouse L/R after click and hold to resize)
Left-Shift+Right-click Pan view
Left-Alt+Right-click Audio preview
Middle mouse button on background Pan view (hold and drag left/right). Hold to swap between this and last zoom.
Middle mouse button preview keyboard Vertical zoom
PgUp / PgDown Zoom in / Zoom out
Pencil tool + Shift Swap to Brush
Right-click Delete Selected Note/s
Right-Alt+Right-click Quantize selected
Right-Shift+Left-click Slice notes (click above/below note and drag vertical)
Right-Shift+Right-click Slice notes & delete smallest part (click above/below note and drag vertical)
Shift+G Group selected notes
Shift+Ctrl+V Paste from MIDI clipboard
Shift+C Select by color
Shift+D Discard selected note lengths
Shift+G Group selected
Shift+I Invert selection
Shift+N Deselect stamp/chord mode
Shift+Q Quick quantize
Shift+R Select at random (multiple presses will select more notes)
Shift+Ctrl+V Paste from MIDI Keyboard
Shift+Left-Arrow/Right-Arrow Move selection Left/Right
Shift+Up-Arrow/Down-Arrow Move selection Up/Down
Shift+Alt+Left-Arrow/Right-Arrow Nudge selection Left/Right
Shift+Alt+Up-Arrow/Down-Arrow Nudge selection Up/Down
Shift+Left-click Clone (drag while holding clip/pattern), release Shift after dragging to unlock vertical movement
Shift+mouse-wheel (on notes) Nudge Clip position
Shift + 0 (zero) Center Playlist to play-head position (numbers above typing keys)
Shift + 1 to 3 Horizontal Zoom levels 1 (zoom out) to 3 (zoom in), (numbers above typing keys)
Shift + 4 Horizontal Zoom, show all (numbers above typing keys)
Shift + 5 Zoom to selection (numbers above typing keys)
Shift + 6 Zoom to stepsequencer mode