Using MIDI is a great way to create your own melodies, chords, and rhythms using any instrument you want.
This article will cover different ways of recording MIDI in FL Studio and provides valuable solutions to make your notes sound more natural and in sync.
Whether you want to record MIDI with a MIDI controller or just your computer keyboard, these techniques work well.
Setting up the MIDI Input
Before recording MIDI, you must ensure that the MIDI input is set up and working properly.
If you have a MIDI controller, like a keyboard or a pad, you need to change some settings in FL Studio before you can record MIDI.
First, click on Options and select MIDI settings. A shortcut to this is the F9 key.
In the MIDI settings window, find your MIDI device in the list and select it as the input device.
Enable the Send Master Sync option. This will make sure your MIDI device is in sync with FL Studio’s tempo and transport.
Check the Enable box for input. This will activate your MIDI device and let FL Studio receive MIDI signals.
Then close the settings box, and the changes will be automatically saved.
If you don’t have a MIDI controller, don’t worry, you can still use your computer keyboard as a virtual piano keyboard.
Just look for the keyboard icon on the top toolbar and click on it to enable this feature.
It’ll turn your typing keyboard into a piano keyboard. You can also use the shortcut Ctrl + T to turn on this feature quickly.
If you are a complete beginner and want to learn about different MIDI settings in FL Studio, you can refer to our detailed guide on FL Studio MIDI settings.
Adding a MIDI Instrument
Now that we have our MIDI input ready let’s add an instrument to play with.
You can choose any instrument you like. It can be a stock or third-party plugin.
To show you the process, I’ll open a simple stock piano plugin called FL Keys from Image-Line.
Click on the plus (+) button at the bottom of the channel rack. The channel rack is where you can see all the instruments and sounds in your project.
Select FL Keys (or any other plugin you like) as the instrument from the list that pops up.
Close the synthesizer window that opens up. You can always open it again later to tweak the sound settings.
Recording MIDI in Pattern Mode
Let’s start by recording some MIDI notes in pattern mode. Pattern mode is where you can create short loops of music that you can later arrange into a full song.
Create a new pattern by clicking the plus (+) button on the top toolbar and giving it a name, such as “Piano Melody.” This will help you organize your project better.
Make sure your project is set to Pattern mode by clicking on the pattern icon next to the play button. If it’s selected, it should glow in a yellowish-orange color.
A shortcut to switch between the pattern and song mode is the key L.
Then turn off the Snap setting by clicking on the magnet icon and setting it to None. This will allow you to record freely without snapping your notes to a grid.
A quick way to switch between the common swap settings is by using the backspace key.
Next, enable the metronome by checking the corresponding icon on the top toolbar. This will provide a click sound to help you play in time with the tempo.
To get ready for recording, enable the countdown before recording (CBR) by checking the icon next to the metronome.
This will give you a four-beat countdown before the recording starts.
Click on the Record icon, which looks like a red circle and a dialog box will appear.
In the dialog box, select Notes and Automation. This will record both your MIDI notes and any changes you make to the sound parameters while playing.
If the dialogue box is not showing, you can write click on the record button. This will open up a list of options. From them, enable both automation and notes options.
Finally, press Play to start the countdown, and then start playing your MIDI notes on your controller or keyboard.
Once you’re done recording, click Stop. Rember to save your project occasionally not to lose progress.
Reviewing the Recorded MIDI
Now take a look at what you just recorded and see if you need to make any adjustments.
Open the Piano Roll of the associated instrument in the pattern on which you recorded the MIDI. The shortcut to open the piano roll is the F7 key.
The piano roll will display all the recorded notes as colored blocks on a grid. You can zoom in and out, move them around, delete them, or add new ones.
Take a moment to review and edit your notes until you’re happy with them.
Adding the Recorded Pattern to the Arrangement
Now that you have recorded the first pattern, add it to the arrangement and see how it sounds in context with other patterns or sounds.
Change the snap setting back to One Bar by clicking the magnet icon or selecting it from the list. This will make it easier to align your patterns on the grid.
Drag and drop the recorded pattern from the channel rack to the playlist. You can place it anywhere you want.
Then switch back to song mode, turn off the record option, and press Play to hear your recorded pattern in the arrangement.
You can reopen the pattern and end the MIDI notes if you want to make any changes.
You can also assign the virtual instrument to a new instrument track on the playlist for better organization and management of recorded patterns. This will also link it to a new mixer channel.
Here’s how to do it:
Right-click on a virtual instrument (VST) in the Channel Rack and assign it to a new instrument track.
This action establishes a direct connection between the channel instrument and both the playlist and mixer.
Recording MIDI in Song Mode
In the song mode, I prefer to record MIDI by assigning an instrument to a playlist track.
This allows me to record MIDI right from the playlist. Here’s how to do it:
First, find an empty playlist track and right-click on it. This will open up some options.
Navigate to Track Mode > Instrument Track > and Select a virtual instrument from the list.
For this demonstration, I’ve added FL Keys to the track.
This will also automatically add a pattern to the track, which will be linked to a separate mixer channel, so you don’t have to assign them manually.
Once you are ready to record, enable recording and play the MIDI instrument. You’ll see the MIDI notes getting recorded on the playlist track as you play.
Depending on your workflow, you can choose between pattern and song mode for recording MIDI.
In pattern mode, each recording creates a new pattern that can be added to the arrangement.
You record directly into the playlist in song mode, and each take will get recorded on the same pattern. You also have the flexibility to add more patterns if you want.
Don’t forget to adjust the snap settings and turn the auto-quantize feature on/off based on your recording preferences.
I hope you learned something new. If you have any doubts, feel free to leave a comment below. I’ll get back to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I record keyboard input in FL Studio?
Recording keyboard input in FL Studio is very simple. First, you need to connect your MIDI device to your computer via a USB cable and make sure FL Studio recognizes it. Then, you need to create and assign a track for your device in the Channel Rack or the Mixer. Select your virtual instrument from the Plugin Database or the Browser and load it on the track. You need to record your performance by pressing the record button on the Transport Panel and playing your keyboard. Finally, you can manipulate the MIDI notes as desired in the Piano Roll or the Playlist, where you can edit, delete, move, copy, paste, quantize, and layer them.
How are MIDI and audio recording different?
MIDI and audio recording are different ways of capturing sound. MIDI records the notes, velocity, duration, and other parameters of performance but not the actual sound. Audio records the sound wave of a performance but not the individual notes. MIDI is more flexible, but audio is more realistic.