The Playlist sequences (plays) all elements of the project to make the final song. The Playlist window is a stack of multi-purpose 'Clip Tracks' that can hold Patterns Clips, Audio Clips and Automation Clips. Unlike most other sequencers, the Playlist tracks are not bound to a single 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. This also means Clip Tracks are not bound to Mixer tracks, rather Channel Rack to Mixer routing of instruments used by Clips 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.
NOTE: Pattern Clips can hold two types of data, MIDI notes
and/or controller movements (stored as 'event automation'). Video tutorials are
available on the Image-Line YouTube Channel.
Timeline & Time Markers
Time is displayed horizontally in the Playlist (in bars displayed along the top of the window). The grid resolution is determined by:
- The window's 'Snap' value (). Alternatively, select 'Main' to apply the global snap value (for all windows where snap applies) defined in the Recording panel.
- The Horizontal zoom. That is, the snap resolution increases as the Playlist is zoomed in, until it reaches the maximum set by the Snap value. Note how Playlist
vertical grid-lines increase as the Playlist is zoomed.
- The 'Project Timebase (PPQ) setting' (F11). Higher PPQ settings offer greater zoom levels and so higher resolution, although the default setting of 96 PPQ is adequate for most situations.
Playback can be controlled from the Main Transport controls or the Play button as indicated above.
- Relocate the playback position - Click on the upper timeline (Bar numbers) where you want the playback position indicator to start. You can use the (Home) key to reset to the song beginning. NOTE: There is an option on the Right-Click main transport Stop button Remember seek time for the start position to be remembered.
- Play notes straddling the playback position marker - When stopping and starting you can play notes that cross the playback position by opening the
Audio Options and selecting 'Play truncated notes'.
- Timeline markers can be used to label parts of your song (such as 'chorus' for example) and also as 'jump to' locators OR to quickly select a
region (between markers). For information on working with Markers see the Time Marker Menu Section below.
Patterns, Audio Clips and Automation Clips
This section covers general editing and Playlist operations. For specific details on using Audio Clips, Automation Clips and Patterns Clips, please see the following pages:
NOTE: Audio, Automation and Pattern Clips can share the same Playlist tracks, as shown above and will overlap, with transparency, to aid with the grouping of related Clips.
Playlist Clip Focus
The Clip focus selector, below, is used to focus Clip types. This is particularly useful when Clips are stacked, the focused Clip is brought to the top for selection and editing. To select all clips in a layered stack, use (Ctrl+Left-click), then they can be moved together. NOTE: Use (M) to cycle modes when Typing keyboard to piano (Ctrl+T) is off.
- Right-Click tab - Show Audio Clip menu.
- Zero-Cross - Slicing & resize edits will be made at the nearest zero-crossing to the slice point. Useful to avoid clicks at the slice location. NOTE: This setting will naturally
interfere with your ability to specify exact slice locations.
- Stretch (Shift+M) - When the left or right edge of the Clip is selected and dragged the Clip will be stretched according to the Audio Clip Time stretching settings. To maintain pitch while the sample length
is stretched, select an option other than 'Resample' in the Stretch Method field.
See the section Working with the stretch/pitch functions for more details on synchronizing/beatmatching audio clips to the project tempo.
- Right-Click tab - Show Automation Clip menu.
- Step - Sets the automation Clip curve editor in 'step editing' mode. Left-click and drag in the Clip to create a "free hand" curve where a new control point is defined for every step in the timeline (steps
depend on the current snap settings). Hold SHIFT while dragging to draw "pulse" lines (straight vertical/horizontal lines only). Note that each new segment created this way uses the last tension set while adding a
- Slide - Preserves the relative distance between a dragged control point and all control points following it.
Patterns (notes & events)
These control the color display for Pattern Clips.
- Right-Click tab - Show Pattern Clip menu.
- Note - Uses the parent pattern's (notes & event) colors. Note color is set from within the Piano roll. Event data defaults to pink, so anyone uncomfortable about being seen using
pink in the Playlist needs to 'suck it in' and stop being a 'big cry baby' about it. Alternatively, change the note color for the channel.
- Chan - Uses the parent channel's color settings (Right-Click the channel button and use the color selector on the Channel re-name pop-up panel).
- Pat - Uses the parent pattern's color settings.
The Picker Panel (Alt+P) is a Pattern, Audio and Automation Clip manager / browser. It shows all Clips in the project, accessed with the filter switches at the top of the panel. Click and drag from this list to the Playlist or click to select, then click on the Playlist to place. Use it to rename and color Clips, auto-select and delete all unused Clips, freeze Patterns, reorder patterns etc. NOTE: Each Clip type has a comprehensive Right-click menu available on the Clips in the list.
- Filter Switch Options (Right-Click) - Select All or Unused (not in Playlist) Clips. Sort Clips by Name, Color or Mixer Track Number (Audio Clips).
- Panel Options - See the Playlist Menu > Picker Panel section for features and controls of the panel.
- Right-Click Clip menu - See the Pattern Menu for details.
Working with the Picker
- Place Clips in Playlist - (Left-Click) to select, or (Alt+Left-Click)/(Shift+Left-Click) to select multiple Clips, then drag to the Playlist. Or (Left-Click) to select Clips, then (Left-Click) to place in the Playlist.
- Select multiple clips - (Ctrl+Left-Click) individual Clips or (Shift+Left-Click) the first and last Clip in a range. It is possible to Rename, Recolor and Gradient Recolor multiple Clips this way.
- Vertical Zoom/Scroll - Use the scroll-bar to the right of the panel OR (Mouse-Wheel) over the Clips. The Zoom control is at the top of the Scroll-bar.
- Preview Clip - (Alt+Right-Click+Hold) Clips. Release hold to stop playback.
- Rearrange Clips - (Right-Click) the Filter Icons at the top and choose a sorting option. Drag and drop Clips or select Clip/s then (Shift+Mouse-Wheel) to move. NOTE: Rearranging the order of Pattern Clips changes their pattern number.
Bouncing Patterns to Audio
You can (Right-Click) Patterns and select Quick render as audio clip or Render as audio clip to convert the selected Pattern/s to audio. This can be useful when manually 'Freezing' Instrument Channels and or Mixer effects to save CPU. Alternatively, to create samples to drop onto the Playlist as an Audio Clip or to Sampler Channels for further manipulation. Let's consider the Render Settings > Miscellaneous > Insert and Master FX combinations and how these can influence your workflow:
- Master OFF / Insert ON - Bouncing Instrument Channels and Insert Mixer FX to audio. Route the Audio Clip to the Master Channel. Replace the Pattern Clip instances with the matching Audio Clip/s. Optionally disable, or remove, the Insert Mixer FX and or Instrument Channels if they are not used by other Patterns.
- Master ON / Insert ON - Bouncing Instrument Channels, Master and Insert FX to audio. Replace the Pattern Clip instances with the matching Audio Clip/s and route the Audio Clip to the Master Mixer Insert Channel. Disable, or remove, the Instrument Channels (if they are not used by other Patterns), Master and Insert Mixer FX.
- Master OFF / Insert OFF - Bouncing Instrument Channels to audio. Special-use case. A caveat with this combination, when multiple Mixer Channels are used by the Pattern, their FX can't be easily re-applied to a single Audio Clip. So, how you use this option will depend on your 'special needs'. Let us know in Looptalk.
- Master ON / Insert OFF - Bouncing Instrument Channels and Master FX to audio. Another 'special-use' case, let us know in Looptalk.
IMPORTANT NOTES: As the automation of Paterns can change with Playlist position, automation is not active during Pattern rendering. The song start, or Playlist selection, is used to set fixed automation values for the duration of the Pattern/s. If you want to bounce a Pattern Clip to audio, with in-situ Playlist Automation, use inline Playlist bouncing. Event Automation, will be included in the rendered audio. With some forward planning you can create projects with this limitation in mind. Only .WAV format is available with this function.
The Project Picker can be opened by (Ctrl+F8), Right-Clicking the Clip Source selector (indicated above) or Mouse X1 button on the Playlist, Piano roll or FL Studio background wallpaper.
Plugin Picker video tutorial here.
- Preview items - Place the Mouse Cursor over items without clicking. When an item is previewed related Patterns or Channels display a yellow tick. For example, the image above shows that two Patterns use the Sytrus Channel previewed.
- Select items - Click on items and the Project Picker will close automatically.
- Change Category (Mouse wheel) - Roll the Mouse wheel when the picker is open to change category (All, Pattern or Channel view).
- Close (Esc) - Press the Escape key, Right-Click on the Project Picker background or select an item.
Working with Clips
Take the time to learn the Playlist keyboard shortcuts associated with your most common Clip operations. In particular, the shortcuts that swap between editing tools are great time savers.
Selection Methods (while in Draw or Paint mode)
Most commonly you will be in Draw () or Paint () mode, if so holding (Shift) will swap between Paint & Draw modes, although the cursor does not change in appearance. Further, holding the ( Ctrl) key will temporarily enable Select mode:
- Select a rectangular area in the audio or pattern tracks - Hold (Ctrl) & drag to define the selection area with the left Mouse button.
- Add to existing selection - Hold (Ctrl+Shift) while making a rectangular selection to add to the existing selection.
- Select a group of pattern tracks - Hold (Ctrl) & drag up/down inside the
pattern name area on the left side of the screen.
- Select a time region - Hold (Ctrl) & drag left/right inside the timeline area.
- Select a marked time region - Double-click a time marker in the timeline to select the time region from this marker to the next one (or to the end of the song if is the last one).
- Select the region between markers - Click (Ctrl+Left-click) on the left edge of the left-most marker bounding the region to be selected.
Universal Clip Editing Methods
- Snap settings () - Snap controls how Clips move on the Playlist grid and many of the other editing functions below. Set this to 'line' if you want the Clips to snap to bar boundaries or to 'none' if you want to freely position & slice Clips.
- Inserting Clips - To insert a Clip, select the Clip you want to place from the Clip Source menu (indicated above) OR Right-Click the Clip focus selectors (indicated above) to choose Clips of the type selected. Next, in Draw () or Paint () mode, Left-click on an empty area of a Clips track where you want to place the Clip. Paint mode
allows you to paint multiple instances of the Clip at once (hold the Mouse button & drag).
- Insert time into the Playlist (shift clips to the right) - Hold (Ctrl), click and drag on the time-line at the top of the Playlist starting from the point you want to insert space into the timeline AND for the duration of the insertion you want. With (Ctrl) still held press the (Insert) key on your keyboard. Insert time into the Playlist (slice and move clips to the right) - Make a time selection as above, then hold (Ctrl+Alt) and press the (Insert) key on your keyboard. The slice point will be at the start of the selection.
- Delete a time selection - Hold (Ctrl), click and drag on the time-line at the
top of the Playlist to select the region to be deleted. Press (Ctrl+Del) to delete all patterns in the current selection and move clips to the right of the selection into the gap.
- Select Clips - To make a selection of more than one Clip. Use the Select tool and click and drag a rectangle around the clips to be selected. To add clips to this selection hold the (Shift) key and make further selections.
OR if you are in Draw or Paint mode, hold (Ctrl) key and you will drop into Select mode while the (Ctrl) key is held. Holding the (Ctrl+Shift) keys will allow you to add and remove Clips to / from an existing selection.
OR use the Magic lasso feature. Move your Mouse pointer in a loop that encloses the Clips you want to select (no clicking required, it's 'magic' remember). Make sure you have no Clips selected before you perform the lasso action (Right-Click the empty Playlist to deselect all Clips and make another selection).
- Zoom to area - (Ctrl+Right-Click) and drag over a selection of the Playlist.
Un-Zoom area - (Ctrl+Right-Click) anywhere
on the Playlist (don't drag).
- Zoom to a Clip - (Ctrl+Shift+Right-Click) on a Clip will maximize the zoom
of the Playlist to the selected Clip. To Un-Zoom Clip - (Ctrl+Right-Click) anywhere
on the Playlist (don't drag in this mode since that is how to zoom to selection).
- Delete/Erase a Clip - Right-Click the target Clip or use the left Mouse button if you are in erase () mode.
- Copy/Paste Clips - Make a selection, release the Mouse and any keys held, then hold the (Shift) key, then click on the selection and drag. A copy of the selection will follow the Mouse cursor. Release the selection when the Clips are in the alternative location. NOTE: In 'Slice tool' mode this will initiate a slice, not copy. OR Make a selection, press (Ctrl+C) to copy, then scroll the Playlist so that the starting bar for the paste location is at the left edge of the Playlist and press (Ctrl+V).
- Duplicate selection - Make a selection and press (Ctrl+B). The selection, or all Clips if no selection is made, will be duplicated to the right of the original selection. To define a specific repeat interval, make a time-line selection equal to the complete interval to be duplicated and press (Ctrl+B). NOTE: The time-line selection and note selection can be made independently. The repeat interval is set by the time-line selection, the Clips duplicated by the Clip selection. In this way, Clips outside the time-line selection can be duplicated according to the time-line interval.
- Slicing Clips - Use the Slice tool (), go to a Clip, click and hold the left Mouse button, then drag vertically through the Clip/s to be sliced. OR...
- No drag slicing - In Slice tool mode, hold (Right-Shift), then click and hold on the Clip, position the knife horizontally and release the Mouse where you want to slice. NOTE: In other tool modes this will initiate a copy-drag, not slice.
- Slicing in Paint or Pencil mode - You can drop into slice mode by holding (Alt + Right-Shift), then click and hold on the Clip, position the knife horizontally and release the Mouse where you want to slice. If you want snapping release the (Alt) key after you have clicked on the Clip, then horizontally position the knife (now with snapping) and release the Mouse button where you want to slice. You can engage and disengage the (Alt) key while dragging horizontally if you change your mind about snap mode.
NOTES: For Audio Clips the Zero-cross setting on the Clip
Focus selector and Snap () setting will influence precisely
where the Clip will slice. Hold the (Alt) key to temporarily disable snap for precision slicing.
If you don't feel the maximum zoom provides enough resolution, increase the PPQ setting in the Project > General options.
- Resizing & Slip-editing Clips - Resized or sliced Clips are just a window over the original data (data still exists outside the visible Clip boundaries). You can either move the start/end positions of the Clip without moving the data in the Clip OR reposition the data while maintaining the start/end positions.
In Draw () or Paint () mode hold (Shift) and drag on the start or end of the clip. To 'slip edit' the data within the window, select the slip tool () (S) then Left-click and drag inside the Clip and move the Mouse left/right.
NOTES: 1. The Playlist Menu option 'Allow resizing from the left' should be enabled to allow resizing from the start. 2. The Snap settings will determine how the data slips. Hold the (Alt) key to temporarily disable snap. Perfect for aligning vocals to the beat.
- Ripple-editing - Moves the start/end of the Clip while preserving the data at the start/end by 'slipping' the data at the opposite end to extend/shorten the length of the Clip. Select the slip tool () (Shift+S) then Left-click and drag on the start/end of the Clip. NOTE: The Snap settings will determine how the data slips. Hold the (Alt) key will temporarily disable snap for fine-tuning. Perfect for aligning vocals to the beat.
- Swap Clips - Open the Clip menu (the small icon in the top left corner of each Clip) and from the Select source channel menu, pick an alternative Clip.
- Edit Clip channel settings - To open the Channel Settings associated with a Clip, open the Clip menu (the small icon in the top left corner of each Clip) and select Channel Settings or double-click the title-bar of the Clip.
- Group Clips - (Shift+G) - Grouping functions so that selecting,
moving or deleting any Clip from a group will cause all others notes in the group to be selected, moved or deleted, etc. Any number of groupings may be created. To group Clips - make a selection using the Select tool, then use the Group function. Activated / deactivate grouping: Use the Note / Pattern Grouping switch on the Snap Panel. Deselecting the Grouping switch will disable Clip grouping behavior until the switch is reactivated.
- Move clips vertically - Make a selection and hold (Shift) and press the Up/Down arrow keys. If no selection is made then all the Clips will be moved.
- Audition a Clip - Select the Playback tool and click on the Clip of interest in the Playlist OR (Alt+Right-Click ) on the Clip in the Playlist OR Select Preview from the Clip menu (the small down arrow at the start of each Clip) and press the Stop button in the Transport panel to stop the preview).
- Clone Clips - Open the Clip menu (icon at the top left corner of each clip) and select 'Make Unique'. By default, all instances of a given Clip share the same Channel or data. To make edits to the source data without affecting the other instances use the make unique feature. The Clip channel will be cloned and the clone will be assigned to the Clip that was edited, making it 'unique'. In the case of Audio Clips where you want to clone the audio file on disk, use 'Make unique as sample'. Use this when you want to physically edit/manipulate the sample data and change it in some way.
- Rescale Clip placement - Make a selection then (Right-Shift) and click on the right-side of the right-most Clip, then drag. Holding the (Alt) key will snap to 25% increments.
- Beat slicing - You can split your Clips into even pieces for each bar or beat in the timeline. Open the Clip menu and from the Chop into menu select Bar or Beat. Beat Random) splits the Audio Clip in beats and reorders the resulting pieces in a random order.
Audio Clip Specific Features
Audio Clips have a few unique properties, as discussed on the Audio Clip page.
Automation Clip Specific Features
Automation Clips have a range of unique properties, as discussed on the Automation Clip page.
Pattern Clip Specific Features
Pattern Clips have a few unique properties, as discussed on the Pattern Clip page.
Under the menu icons at the top left corner of each Clip you will find a menu with the following options, depending on the Clip type
- Pattern / Audio / Automation Clip
- Preview - Previews/plays the Clip.
- Edit pattern (Patterns) - Opens the Piano roll.
- Select source pattern/channel - Replaces the existing Clip with the selected source.
- Channel settings (Audio / Automation Clips) - Opens the channel settings for the Clip.
- Rename - Renames the Clip.
- Make unique - Clones the original Clip so that edits on the new Clip do not affect other instances. NOTE: With Audio Clips the original audio file is re-used
in the new Audio Clip channel. Alternatively use 'Make unique as sample' (see below).
- Select all similar Clips - Selects all instances of the same Clip in the Playlist.
- Select region - Selects a region if existing.
- Chop (Audio Clips) - Opens a sub-menu with chopping options. Slices the Clip into rhythmic pieces aligned with the grid.
- Sample (Audio Clips)
- Make unique as sample - Clones the original Audio Clip AND clones the sample file on disk. Use this when you want to physically edit the sample data and change it in some way.
- Edit sample - Opens the sample in Edison audio editor.
- Pitch-correct sample - Opens the sample in Newtone pitch correction & time-stretching editor.
- Detect tempo - Opens the tempo detection dialog and offers to set FL Studio to the same tempo.
- Fit to tempo - Fits the sample to the project tempo. You can also use this to lock samples to the project tempo so they
stretch as the to fit a new tempo when it is changed.
- Automate (Audio Clips) - Opens a sub-menu with the following options:
- Volume / Pan - Create Automation Clips for the sample Volume or Pan.
- Crossfade with - Creates a crossfade Volume Automation Clip envelope for overlapping Audio Clips. The single Automation Clip created is inversely linked to the other Clip
of the pair, so the crossfade is performed between both Clips with a single envelope.
The Playlist menu button has options and commands for managing the Playlist.
Live song jumps - You can using a MIDI keyboard, typing keyboard shortcuts (see below) or FF/RW transport keys on a multimedia keyboard to jump between time markers to create innovative live performances. Video tutorial here. To use a MIDI keyboard:
- Set the MIDI options 'Song marker jump MIDI channel' to the same MIDI channel as your controller. NOTE: To play plugin instruments just use different MIDI channel to the 'Song marker jump MIDI channel'.
- Turn OFF the Audio Option 'Reset Plugins on Transport'. This should give a faster and less glitchy response when jumping and moving the song position marker.
- Turn ON the Audio Option 'Play truncated notes'. This ensures any notes started before a jump point, and crossing it, still play.
- Select 'Live mode' from the Playlist menu. This changes the jump-to behavior so that jumps happen on bar divisions and also shows the jump-to points (as a gray position marker).
NOTE: Link the Channel mute switches to buttons on your MIDI controller to mute and unmute instruments during a performance for added variation.
Once markers have been added and their type defined they will respond as follows:
NOTE: Keyboard shortcuts apply to the Number Pad only.
Picker panel - Shows all Pattern, Audio and Automation Clips used in the project. See the Picker Panel section for more details.
Current Clip source - Shows the list of Clips available in the project. The currently selected Clip will be highlighted.
Performance mode (Ctrl+P) - Performance mode is designed to trigger and loop individual Playlist tracks and clips to create live performances. Performance mode is explained in detail here.
Center (0) - Center (grid) centers the Playlist's grid so the play position marker is in the middle. Useful when you want to see the playing position in a long sequence.
Detached - Detaches the Playlist from the FL Studio workspace, allowing it to be dragged to another monitor.
- Enable - Show/hide the Picker Panel.
- Show on right side - Moves the Picker Panel to the right side of the Playlist.
- Focus selected pattern - Selected patters will show in the Piano roll, Channel Rack etc.
- Select linked channels - Channels associated with the selected Clip will also be selected in the Channel Rack.
- Select from playlist/channel rack - Selecting Clips in the Playlist will also select them in the Picker Panel.
- Show empty patterns - Shows empty patterns in the Picker Panel.
- Drag to rearrange - Allows you to click and drag on Clips to rearrange them.
- Auto group patterns/channels - When using 'Clone' and 'Make Unique' commands, keeps the copies in the same Groups as the source Clips.
- Select unused - Select unused Pattern, Audio or Automation Clips. Unused Clips are those not placed in the Playlist.
- Sort - Sort Pattern, Audio or Automation Clips by Name, Color, Mixer track etc, depending on what is appropriate for the Clip type.
See FL Studio User Interface > Multi-touch support
Playlist keyboard shortcuts
See the Playlist Keyboard Shortcuts page.