I know what it feels like to be brand new to a DAW. If I recall correctly, I started using GarageBand way back in 2017. I remember how difficult it was to navigate all of the various commands. The funny thing is I still have a lot more to learn too.
Either way, I’m going through the same process again except with a new DAW: FL Studio. FL Studio is the DAW of choice for beginners to music production, particularly beat-makers. I just got finished learning how to assign sounds to a MIDI keyboard in GarageBand, so it only made sense to do the same thing for FL Studio too. Here’s how.
To assign sounds to a MIDI keyboard in FL Studio
1) Drag your sample folder into the FL Studio browser
2) Click Plugins Database > Generators > Drum > FPC
3) Click each pad and delete the sounds on all 16
4) Drag each sample onto the pad
5) Click “MIDI Note” and then the note, ie, C3
This is the brunt of how you assign samples and sounds to a MIDI keyboard in FL Studio. This will respond to the notes on your MIDI keyboard in addition to your computer keyboard if it’s set up to act as a MIDI trigger. Furthermore, if that brief explanation isn’t enough for you, no worries. I’ll show you a video and illustrated guide too.
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Assigning Sounds & Samples to A MIDI Keyboard in FL Studio
This is the first time I’ve done an FL Studio tutorial, and I have to say it has a pretty intuitive interface. Everything is streamlined and organized for easy access to files, samples, and other libraries. This is good news for both of us.
That said, as is the case with any other software, finding the proper controls and parameters can be a challenge. After a few hours of messing around, I managed to decipher the brunt of FL Studio’s controls, including toggling the Piano Roll, navigating plugins and instruments, and a few other things.
Here’s a short video showing you how to assign samples:
Here are the steps to assigning samples to a MIDI keyboard in FL Studio – one-by-one. The first thing of note is FL Studio has the file browser open by default. When you boot the application on your computer, the File Browser is to your left.
1) Drag Your Sample Folder Into the FL Studio Browser
I’ll usually have the Finder on the right side and then the application on the left. I do this so I can see what I’m doing better.
FL Studio’s file browser is the list of instruments, effects, templates, plugins, generators, and sounds on the left-hand side. It’s always sitting there on the left side of the interface unless you remove it.
How you organize your samples, instruments, and sounds is up to you but I prefer to put them on my desktop if I need them right away for something. Another thing I’ll do is put them in my local documents folder. Just ensure they’re not sitting in your iCloud Drive, because it may take extra time to load them in.
After you’ve dragged in your file containing samples and sounds, FL Studio will miraculously organize them in an easy-to-use way. Click on each one and then you’ll expand the category.
Right-click on the label to either expand it or collapse it. It’s unfortunate GarageBand doesn’t have the capability to do things like this, because I feel like it could be done.
2) Click Plugins Database > Generators > Drum > FPC
As the image shows, to bring up the FPC, first, click on Plugins Database. Then, click Generators, Drum, and then FPC. The FPC has to be dragged into the workspace (where the FL Studio logo is sitting).
Once you’ve done that, FL Studio will bring it up, however, you may have to exit out of or minimize your piano roll if you’re in the middle of using it.
To minimize windows in FL Studio, you just click on the “X” or the “-” on the top-right of the window. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why the FPC wasn’t appearing after dragging it into the workspace.
Turns out I just had to minimize the piano roll. This is quite a bit different from GarageBand, which has its piano roll on the bottom down where the Smart Controls are (my guide on it here).
What I found the most difficult about FL Studio after I got it on Plugin Fox, is how sounds and files are organized. It’s not that it’s terribly difficult. It’s just that I’m used to the way things look in GarageBand.
For the next part, you have to go through each pad and get rid of the sounds on everyone. It’s pretty straightforward. I’ll show you how to do it now.
3) Click Each Pad and Then Delete the Sounds On All 16
The FPC is a bit tricky when you’re first beginning, but it isn’t that hard to program either. Essentially, just click on one of the pads and then press the “Delete” button. This will eliminate the audio recording that currently sits on the pad. It’s triggered by the corresponding MIDI note, for example, C2 or D#3.
You’ll want to click the “Delete” button as many times as there are samples on that pad. In some cases, the pad may only have 1 sample on it, but sometimes it could have up to around 4.
4) Drag Each Sample Onto The Pad
After deleting the samples on every single drum pad, you can start dragging your own samples and sounds. Click on the folder in the File Browser where your samples are and then simply drag them on top of the pad.
5) Click “MIDI Note” and then the Note, ie, C3
You’ll want to change the name of the pad as well as the MIDI trigger too. Otherwise, the programming will be annoying. I prefer having the first kick drum at C3, as you can see in the image above. Sometimes I’ll do it with C2 or C1.
From there, I’ll continue up the MIDI keyboard – (the Arturia KeyLab 61 MK11 from Amazon is the best one to get right now by the way) – until I’ve programmed every single part of the kit to the keyboard/drum pad.
I’ll also make sure to include the sharps as well, rather than avoiding the white keys as some might do. One interesting thing to do is to use the sharps as hi-hats and cymbals and then white keys as drums. Give it a shot.
Another Quick Tip: You can also save your settings with a preset. Right-click the dropdown arrow next to the “Pad 1/32” and then select “Save Preset.” This will save your preset so you don’t have to do the same thing every time you switch to a new instrument or open a new project.
Important Things to Note About Assigning Samples in FL Studio
1) This Works On Older Digital Pianos and Keyboards As Well
For this tutorial, I used a Yamaha PSR-640 released in 1999 and it still worked. I believe as long as your keyboard has MIDI In and Out, you should be able to connect it to your DAW. In some cases, you may have to install a driver but it depends on which audio interface you’re using.
Most people prefer the Scarlett 2i2 (from Amazon), and for good reason – it works great, although, the latest editions no longer have the necessary MIDI IN-OUT ports on the back. I’m currently using the Presonus Audiobox USB96 (also from Amazon) because my Scarlett is at home.