FL Studio Step Sequencer (Channel Window)

The step sequencer (sometimes called channel window) is pretty much the base of your projects in Fl Studio, from it you will access any sound that you are going to need (whether that is a VST, sample or generator). There are different ways to organise the step sequencer depending on your work flow but in this tutorial I will go through some very easy steps to start making sounds.

How does The Step Sequencer work?

When you open up a new project you will be presented with this:

FL Studio Step Sequencer

Alternatively you can press the F6 key or look for the tool bar button:FL Studio Toolbar Button

Depending on the type of project you’ve opened your step sequencer may have other things in it instead of ‘Kick, Clap, Hat & Snare’ or it may simply contain ‘Wrapper’.

To keep things simple for everyone, let’s pretend there’s nothing in there. Go to your ‘Browser’ on the left of the screen and scroll down until you find ‘Packs’. These packs consist of one hit samples from various instruments, click them to preview the sound. Go to ‘Dance’ and find any:

• ‘DNC_ Kick’
• ‘DNC_Clap’
• ‘DNC_Hat’

Drag them over one by one to the step sequencer, they should drop in and create a new row, be careful because if you drop a sample on top of another one it will replace it.

Okay, so now that you have a few drums in you step sequencer let me tell you a little more about it. Notice that each sample has a little light and two knobs to its left and another oval light and sixteen spaces to its right;

FL Studio Numbered Step Sequencer

1) Controls Mute/Solo
2) Controls Panning (whether the sound is in the left, right or centre)
3) Controls Volume
4) Controls the settings of the sample
5) Shows which sample is selected (right click to select them all)
6) Is the steps

How can the Step Sequencer be used?

As the title would suggest the step sequencer is for laying down steps, meaning it’s a great tool for making loops and drum patterns. If you click on any one of the sixteen steps from any channel the sample will become active and light up white, click it again to it remove it from the sequence.

These sixteen steps represent 1/16th measures of a bar of music, every 4 steps equals a beat, so in these 16 steps there a 4 beats. DON’T WORRY IF YOU DON’T GET THIS. Try doing this simple drum loop and you will understand.

FL Studio Step Sequencer pattern

Now if you click play (when in pattern mode*) it will play through the sequence, triggering the sample every time it is selected. Easy right? You can also use the space bar to play/stop, many producers including myself leave the pattern playing until they find the right sample or the right place to put it.

*Pattern (PAT) mode is for listening to your pattern in the step sequencer and Song (SONG) mode is to listen to a group of patterns in the playlist, which we’ll get onto later.

FL Studio Play Stop Record

More about the Step Sequencer

Within the step sequencer there six more options, they are:

FL Studio Numbered Step Sequencer

1) Shows the grouping menu
2) Controls how many beats are in the sequence
3) Sets the pattern to repeat when a longer midi pattern is in the sequence
4) Controls the amount of swing (changes in the durations of pairs of notes) in the sequence
5) Opens a menu to control individual note panning, velocity
6) Opens the piano to play samples in a different pitch

For an in depth tutorial please go to the ‘More on the Step Sequence ‘tutorial.

One question I get asked a lot from new users of FL Studio is; I have my beat sequence but how can a make a song from it? This is covered in the next tutorial ‘The Playlist and Piano Roll’


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