Over the previous two issues, this audio column has looked at music creation through the use of Fruityloops, a software sampling/sequencing application. This month the tutorial wraps up by exploring the use of the Fruityloops playlist, plug-ins and effects, aiming at providing you with a good overview of how the program works so you can start making music within minutes. In September we sketched out our simple first track, and now we move on to sequencing it using the playlist. Don’t worry if you don’t have the previous issues -- old audio articles can be found at www.pcworld.idg.com.au (under the Here’s How tab).
Take a look at the Pattern Selector QuickPad. Pressing buttons 1-9 will take you directly to those patterns, and the pattern scroll is used for any songs with more than nine patterns. Everything we have done so far has been placed on pattern 1. In order to mix the sounds on the playlist to form a song, however, we need to separate each channel onto its own pattern.
Do this by using the Channel Selector to select channel 1 (TS404#1) and then press Ctrl-C to copy channel 1. Now, from the Pattern Selector on the tool panel, select Pattern 2 (it will turn orange) and press Ctrl-V to paste. Go back to Pattern 1 and copy channel 2 (C_Kick). Using the Pattern Selector once again, go to Pattern 3 and use Ctrl-V to paste. Keep doing this incrementally, until finally each channel/sample has its own pattern. By the time you’re done, Pattern 6 should contain channel 5 (C_Snare). This allows you to mix in each sound/sample individually while using Pattern 1 as a sketchpad for ideas.
Next, select Pattern 7 -- it should be blank. In the sample browser on the left, click on Instruments (in pink), then drums. It’s a good idea to save your song in progress at this point if you haven’t already done so. Click on and drag the sample called BD (bass drum) to the blank area at the bottom of the Step Sequencer (not on the grid) -- it should create a new channel with that sample. Make sure BD doesn’t replace the C_Snare sample. Right-click on the BD channel settings button and select Fill each 8 steps.
Next press F5, and the Playlist window will appear. This is where you sequence individual patterns to create your song. Remembering that the example song we’re making in this instance is extremely basic, let’s move on. Each coloured square (play list marker) represents where a pattern is to be played from left to right. Place a marker using the left mouse button (the right button removes them); a marker placed on the line of Pattern 3, for example, will play pattern 3. Now, simply plot the playlist. With this is done, click the Song LED next to the play button and click Play to hear your song! Clicking the Pattern (pat) LED will allow you to hear individual patterns as you edit them using the pattern selector buttons from the tool panel.
Plug-ins and effects
Applying effects to individual samples is done by pressing a channel settings button and using the mouse to move up or down the FX number located in the top right of the Channel Settings window. This done, you only need to press F9. The numbers along the top are the FX channel numbers (to which you can assign individual channels/samples). The M in the top left of the effects window indicates master effects channel and any effects or plug-ins loaded here apply to the entire song. Click on the effects channel number you selected in the Channel Settings window. To add EQ (equalisation), for example, click on the downwards arrow next to (none), go to Select and then choose Fruity 7 band EQ. Clicking on the name of the effect toggles it on or off. Right-clicking brings up the effect settings, but be careful, it may be hidden under another window.
Fruityloops comes with a few bundled effects and plug-ins but, more importantly, it supports Cubase and Cakewalk virtual instrument and effects plug-ins. Finally, Fruityloops has a great manual covering everything mentioned in this article in more depth -- it can be accessed from inside the program simply by hitting the F1 key. While Fruityloops isn’t for everybody, I hope at the very least that this article has provided food for thought or inspired you to take a step towards expressing your musical leanings.
The Fruityloops Tool Panel
1. Main Volume Control -- Overall volume adjustment
2. Main Pitch -- Overall pitch adjustment
3. Pattern/Song Mode - Pressing the pattern (pat) LED lets you hear individual patterns as you edit them using the pattern selector buttons from the toolbar. When song mode is selected, the playlist will play through.
4. Play/Stop/Record Buttons - As name suggests, this begins and ends playback. Record mode is for recording knob movements and tweaks. More information on record mode can be found in the help files.
5. QuickPad & Pattern Selector -- Pressing buttons 1-9 will take you directly to those patterns, with the pattern scroll being used for any songs with more than 9 patterns.
6. Tempo -- Increases/decreases speed of song playback. Right click for preset options.