What I like about FL Studio is that it's really easy to use, but at the same time you can add lots of complexity to your tracks by using the tools available. And this is true with using arps in FL Studio. Let me show you how you can create arps with your FL instruments and then how to add more complexity to them with the bundled effects .
I’m going to be using the Harmless instruments. I’ve programmed in a simple sustained C chord (C, E, G, C) for 4 bars. Now if I click on the wrench icon on the upper left-hand side of the Harmless user interface, this will take me to the Miscellaneous Functions tab.
And just under the Levels adjustment, and next to the group section is the Arpeggiator. By default this is disabled. To enable it, I just have to click on any of the 4 buttons next to the cross. This will give you different arp direction. The first one is always up, then there is always down, up-down bounce, and lastly up-down sticky. Let’s use the up arp direction for now.
On the Arp I have a couple of settings I can tweak to change the sound of it. First there is the Time dial. With this I can change the timing of the arp. And this is in free time, but if I right-click on the time dial I can choose to set it to a specific interval under the set sub-menu. So let’s set this to one step, which is a 16th note.
Next to this is the gate dial, and this will change the note length. So turn this to the left and hear how it shortens the note length by gating the notes, and alternatively if I turn it to the right it will open up the gate and lengthen the notes.
Now try this out: set a very short time like about 0:06, and a Gate of 20%. Now hear when you playback how you get that ’80s chip-style tune synth sound because the interval difference and note lengths are very short. This is a great trick to add some retro-style synth sounds into your productions. Maybe take something simple like a Sine or Saw wave synth, program in a melody and then add these arp settings to give you that chiptune-esque vibe to your tracks.
With the range and can increase how far this chord runs up and down the arp pattern. If you leave at range set to 1 it will cycle an octave, but by increasing this you’ll get a bigger octave jump. There is a maximum of 6 octaves that it can cycle through.
And the repeat dial will repeat the notes for a more MIDI Echo sound. This is great as it can add more complexity into the arp pattern
And if you want to really get some crazy results enable Slide and this will Slide between each note change. I found this setting to be a bit much, and preferred it off. But it can work quite well with slow time and gate settings. It gives a sort of ascending or descending chord sound depending on what arp pattern you have selected.
Next to the Slide option you’ll see there is a chord option. By default this is set to Auto and in this setting the arp will cycles through the notes in the chord. But if you click on this you’ll see you have a wide variety of chord shapes you can choose from. Now what this will do is instead of playing a note, it will play through a chord. So for example if you set it to Major and then have a chord C-E-G programmed in, it will cycles through Cmaj, Emaj, and Gmaj. Try out some of the other chord options here. You can get some really other worldly sounds if you go for some abstract complex scales like Neapolitan minor, or Enigmatic you get the idea. But try them out seriously, you might get an idea that you weren’t thinking of.
Lastly, what I find works really well with arps, is to add some effects to them, especially time based effects like delays, reverbs and modulation effects. So try this for example. On your instrument add in an instance of the Fruity Delay 2. Playback your instrument playing the arp and then tweak the Fruity Delay time dial, and then tweak the Dry/Wet amount.
Next up add a Fruity Convolver Reverb. Use the default impulse response that comes loaded up, or try another. And then also tweak the Dry and Wet dials to taste.
And lastly add in a Fruity Chorus for some extra modulation to the sound. You can try different Delay, Depth and Stereo amounts and hear what that sounds like.
I find that effects like these really help sit the arp patterns nicely in the mix. But it does depend on where you want them. Maybe you want your arp patterns up front and dry, or you want to process them quite a bit and sit back in the mix. I’ll leave this up to you. But delays and reverbs definitely help add to the complexity of the patterns.
That’s how easy it is to create arp patterns with your FL Instruments. It’s really cool that you can go into any FL instrument, click on the wrench Icon and then enable the arpeggiator. Plus you can add extra effects to them to add to the complexity of their sound so that they sit nicely in the mix with the other instruments in the track. So try creating some arp patterns with instruments in your next song.