In my experience with music software I've come to the conclusion that FL Studio (despite being disapproved by most of the music producers) is an excellent software for composing and arranging. With Fruity Loops you can create musical pieces in genres, ranging from house and industrial to epic soundtracks and the one thing that you need is a gentle bit of creativity!
Recently I've been doing a job for a studio and I had to create a great deal of music for a short period of time. This was really useful for me because I learned how to use some of the great tools that were integrated in FL Studio - and therefore I saved much time for mixing, editing and finishing the products.
1. The Randomizer Tool
Perhaps some of you would think that using a randomizing tool would destroy much of the process of creativity. That is not quite true.
Now, let's examine the panel of "Randomize". First, load an instrument in your step sequencer and then open the "Piano roll" (right click on the VST (or sample), then "Piano roll"). Now, when you are looking on the virtual partiture (score) look in the settings panel of the piano roll. They are in the top left corner.
Click on the wrench icon and then examine the drop-down menu. You will see a lots of tools and "Randomize" being right above the last one. Remember that you can use ALT+R to trigger the tool - it really saves time!
The main idea of the "Randomizer" is to create random notes in a specific key or chord but this is not what I will be talking about. This tool can also be linked to some parametres and controls like velocity, panning, pitch, modx and mody. This is the ideal decision for putting some realism in your tracks, especially if you use sample-layered software (for example East West Quantum Leap Gold, Virtual grand pianos or Ezdrummer).
You can save your time when you have staccatto violins that repeatedly play the same passage for over a minute. The simple decision is to make slight dynamic changes and therefore create an illusion of live performance. It would be painful if you do this note by note; still, you can use "Randomizer" for your own comfort.
You can listen to some demos of first violins, playing staccato (VST used - EWQL Gold)
In the next example I will show you some drums treatment. Tired of all those computerized hi-hats and tired of editing note velocity by hand? Here is a simple solution for you:
And final example - how the slight use of "Randomizer" effects the whole song:
Of course this tool can't be of any use when editing the velocity of an instrument that is playing solo at the moment. I suggest making the velocity changes by hand with a lots of listening... or recording the melody live.
2. Ghost Channels
When you work on tough projects (for example MIDI orchestration) you can sometimes ask yourself: "What was the chord, that's playing on this bar?" Also, you may want to check the melodic line of the violas, before writing the violins section. The ghost channels (I call them "ghost notes") can help you see what the other instruments on the same pattern are playing in that exact moment.
Here you can see that I am working on a rhode organ melody (in green), while I can see the bass-line and some gentle piano chords (in gray).
You can turn this function on and off by clicking on the piano roll options, then "Helpers" and "Ghost channels" (or simply press ALT+V).
3. Quick Quantize
If you work mostly with a MIDI keyboard and a low-quality sound card, you probably had had experiences with latency (or maybe you just didn't play that melody rhythmically). Therefore your piano melodie is not synchronized with the beat and needs to be edited.
Everyone have heard of the "Quantizer" tool, which helps you re-arrange notes in a certain manner after making some specifications.
The "Quick quantize" tool (CTRL+Q), though, makes an immediate quantize taking one specification only - "Snap". You can edit the snap settings from the piano roll itself or from the top panels. Of course, quick quantizing can also ruin your recorded material, but most of the time it saves a lot of time - so use it wisely!