FLS10 – Getting Started 4 – Playlist Window

FLS10 – Getting Started 4 – Playlist Window

Hopefully this will be the last of the Getting Started series, as I think it is the last “Main” feature of FLS to look at as an overview. At least it should be possible to glue together the previous Posts to create a complete track – “irregardless” of how simple it is (haha, Stewie Griffin will now Clingon Disrupt me…) – by combining the Piano Roll and Sequencer windows data as “Clips” in the Playlist window, to build a track of some sort.

Don’t forget the image-line instruction videos online for all things FLS, and a Playlist specific one to start here:


As the Manual summarises:

The Playlist is the place where all the individual elements of a musical piece are arranged into a complete song. The Playlist window (15) is comprised of multi-purpose ‘Clip Tracks’, these can host Patterns Clips, Audio Clips and Automation Clips.

Pattern Clips can hold two types of data, MIDI notes and/or controller movements (stored as ‘event automation‘). Video tutorials are available on the Image-Line YouTube Channel.

Starting from a blank Template as before we have (my Browser is also open):

The sequencer window is loaded with the default Sampler, but no waveform loaded yet.

We can multi-load some sounds to the sequencer in one go using the Windows shell option to browse them by right clicking a Browser folder for the Windows shell which opens the Win directory containing the files e.g. Packs/Vocals :

These can then be selected and dragged onto the Sequencer the same way the Browser can, and each waveform becomes available in its own Channel. Smart!

Hold Ctrl then click each Channel button to hear each one:

You can even load a full drum kit using this method, loading the .fst file:

Using it goes beyond my knowledge yet, but it has playable Drum Pads and looks like this – Cool!:

I’ll load separate kick, snare and hi-hat Channels from Drum kit 01 also for use in the Playlist later.

Now the sequencer has a playable beats also:

Before moving on, there is another useful option in the sequencer top right, a velocity window, next to the mini keys icon:

You can use this with the cursor, to draw and alter the relative attack volumes of each individual 1/16 note of the sequencer, to create this hi hat fade in example, which sounds like this:



Anyway, I’m getting side tracked again!

Ok, that should be enough to get going.

If you haven’t seen the Playlist window yet, press F5:

It is the same as the Piano Roll really, except it has tracks to the left instead of keys.

Up/Down/left/right arrows and Page Up/Down have the same functions as Piano Roll, and it holds 99 tracks by default.

As usual, starting with the Manual (F1)

  1. Tools – Draw / Pencil ( Shift+P); Paint / Brush ( Shift+B); Erase ( Shift+D); Mute (T); Slip ( Shift+S); Cut ( Alt + Right-Shift); Select ( Shift+E); Zoom to selection ( Shift+Z). Play selection ( Y).

On closer inspection the Tool bar has an extra tool – Slip:

The Snap tool also marks vertical lines according to Bar, beat, ½ beat resolutions as in the Piano Roll. Fully zoomed out with Snap at 1 Bar, we can see 17 whole Bars:

To get an idea how fine a resolution we can zoom and work to in this window, I set the Snap to 1 beat, zoomed in until only a whole bar was visible only and moved the mouse pointer to watch the pointer counter and how many units it moves relative to the first bar from the left, which was ¼ of 1 beat, but the cursor position doesn’t show in the screen capture:

The 001:01:023 turns over to 01:02:000 at the 1/16 note resolution gridline:

Basically, this implies we can move objects to 1/24 of 1/16 beat accuracy in this default 4:4 signature time of 96 Pulses Per Quarter note covered in Getting Started 3.

For even higher resolution, you can alter the PPQ settings in System, covered in the last Post, to 960 PPQ max. This translates to really fine positioning of Clip start times.

The first thing to note is that pressing play/Spacebar – even with no data in this window yet – still starts the sequencer Pattern, so how to know whether its Playlist data or Sequencer data playing, once we do get stuff in there? Let’s hope that becomes clear later…?

OK, so how do we get some data in this window to play with?

The Playlist drop menu is a source for the Patterns it seems, and as I only have Pattern1 in the sequencer, it must mean that:

Choosing that, with the Paint icon and clicking in the window added some data:

What is it from? It seems pre-selected as if awaiting an operation, like note selection in the Piano Roll window yesterday. Odd that it seems to have cut a note in half also.

Zooming right out, it looks like the 16 hi-hats:

Why that channel and not any/all of the others?

Was it the last channel I clicked on in the sequencer?

After closing the window to look back at the sequencer, I seem to have lost that data permanently, as opening a Playlist window for each channel in turn since is empty. Hmm, try again.

I have clicked on the Kick channel this time so I know.

Oops! I discovered something useful by accident. I opened the Piano Roll instead of the Playlist window. Sorry – I do need to side-track here.

I noticed a Kick velocity drop menu which I didn’t cover yesterday that diverted my attention, after seeing the sequencer velocity window earlier:

So choosing Paint, I entered notes randomly here.

Notice the tiny velocity bar and note value we saw yesterday. It reminded me this is a split window, where you can show note velocity at the bottom also, but this default is full screen.

When played, I get the other sequencer channels also – with the 2 kicks sounding that were in the Channel Pattern, but these notes don’t show in this window. The notes I clicked in cover 3 bars, so force the sequencer to play past its normal 16 note single bar to play these kicks, up to bar 3 before looping again. I can turn off the two previous sequencer kicks that don’t show in this window anyway, and now I hear only these kicks that are in the Piano Roll. I need to digress here to find out more about this Piano Roll and sequencer relationship.

It is not what you may expect, as visually it is confusing, it gives the notion that the kick notes fit within the same 1 bar of the sequencer, which we know they don’t – they play over 3 bars, not 1, but look at this:

The sequencer light is playing Hi Hat note 10/16 – before the first kick drum has even played – shown only by the orange line in the Kick channel. It is a proportional representation of where the kick channel progress is, squashed into the same view. Clever, but misleading until you inspect it!

These FLS guys are really big on tiny detail!

It means that the other sequenced notes don’t play again until the 3 kick bars are complete and loop around also.

I’m guessing now that I could add notes in the Piano Roll as far along as I want and they would all squash into this view? Yep – 12 bars of kicks, but only 1 Bar of drums:

I don’t know why I think that is important to know at this stage, just think it will be later.

What if you wanted the other channels to play their pattern to these extra notes you added?

I’ll show you, but first I’m going to simplify things again and enter 4 kicks on each beat so the sequencer is back to all notes looping at 1 bar, all making sense visually, so now I have:

If I do as before and add another 4 kicks to the Piano Roll up to 2 bars, I get 8 kicks in the same window that play over 2 bars, but the hi hats stop after 1 bar, as before:

To fill out this new 2 bar loop, just increase the beats per bar value in the top left corner (shows 4 now) to 8, and activate the notes you want in the other channels:

Yes, I know you could do this in the sequencer without having to involve the Piano Roll in the first place for this particular example, but you may want a more complex drum pattern or may have pasted a musical passage into the Piano Roll that has shorter notes than 1/16s in it, spread over many bars.

Now back to the Playlist topics.

I was trying to get data into the window.

Oh! Here we go again! I clicked the sequencer kicks Channel then opened the Playlist and now have the Pink Phantoms again:

Different this time – looks like 8 kicks and all the Hi Hats.

I’ll try to pin this down this time.

Right click deletes it – Doh! Use Ctrl-Z to undo that mistake.

Left click and drag makes and moves a copy of it, and locks the first Clip in place:

I need help. Online video time…

OK…First thing to be aware of is that data Clips are transparent and can overlap. This is important to know later – what are you looking at for sure? How many layers? What data type?

Playlist Clip Focus

The Clip focus selector (10), is used to focus Clip types. This is particularly useful when Clips are stacked, the focused Clip is brought to the top for selection and editing. To select all clips in a layered stack, use ( Ctrl + Left-click), then they can be moved together.

There are 3 types of data that can overlap, Audio, Automation and Pattern clips, each type brought to focus using their Tab icons:

Secondly, Spacebar still does NOT play the Playlist data at this point – I turned off the sequencer kicks and they do not play in the Playlist! Because…

…I forgot this from the other day – you need to switch from Pattern to Song mode:

Yay! Now we have all the VERY basic operations to create a whole song, no matter how simple!

When in Song mode, the Playlist window will play all the Channels that are on (green LED) in the sequencer, even though the Clip seems to only show kick and HH data. You can drag audio files straight from the Browser onto a track also:

No sounds for the first Bar, then on Bar 2 the activated sequencer Channels play in Track 1, and the sound sample in Track2.

First Shortcuts: (using the Paint tool cursor).

Rclick Clip = Delete

Lclick + Drag = move Clip

Ctrl + Rclick = Full zoom out view of all current window content

Ctrl + Lclick + Drag = E + Lclick + Drag = Select Area

Ctrl + Rclick + Drag Area = fine zooms in to selected area (use in Piano Roll also)

…then Ctrl +Right click to return to previous view – very handy!

Tab = Cycles sequencer, Channel settings, Playlist windows – notice the sequencer has changed – a Pattern 2 has been created somehow, but Pattern 1 is still available in the sequencer Drop menu.

OK, enough of Shortcuts for now.

Let’s try and put it all together to create a “song” of some basic form.

We have a drum Clip, so let’s copy it over 8 bars as the basic backing.

Set Snap to 1 Bar, touch the drum Clip, then just click the Paint tool in the next empty bar to the right of the Clip, in Track 1, 3 times to cover the 8 Bars:

This is still playing unwanted sequencer Channels so I’ll deactivate all but the kick, Hi Hats and snare in Pattern 1 sequencer:

And delete the other test waveforms in Tracks 2 + 3 with RClick – I now have just 4 sequencer Clips playing only drum sounds:

It is looping incorrectly though, playing only as far as the red line, whatever that is.

Checking the Sequencer in both Song and Pattern modes, that loops correctly…?

Ah, clicking in the red line zone at bar 9 marker removes the red bar, and the Track now loops after 8 bars correctly:

It sounds like this – nothing special I know…


That’s the 8 bar Drum track done – what next?

I did a Copper synth emulation using an FLS PercSynth in the Piano Roll Post the other day, let’s see if I can import that somehow…nope, not an option in Import – MIDI files only.

I do have it as Copper.flp file shown in this menu, so can I load that to the sequencer like I did the whole drum kit yesterday?

Using the Browser Drop menu Find, it looks like I didn’t save it. Damn!

I’ll save this whole Project first, then try to open it from Recent.

I still have it as a Piano Roll sequence! How do I get that in my other Project?

I thought the best thing to do first is copy the Copper Piano Roll notes, CtrlA = Select All, then CtrlC = copy. I then re-opened the Playlist project, clicked the Sampler as a place to store the data, opened its Piano Roll window and pasted the notes in with CtrlV.

So I have the data, now to make it play. There is no waveform in the sampler, so that’s no good yet – but if you Rclick the Channel button there is a Load Sample option, but first I have to find where the PercSyn sample is. Using Browser Find again it is in Packs/Legacy/SimSynth/Instruments/

Ok done. The Sampler has become PERCSYN. It is loud compared to the drums, so turning the Sample volume down in settings:

I will copy and paste the PercSyn notes to cover 2 bars so it fills out the window like the kicks, using the Piano Roll then check what is now in the Playlist. Ah, maybe not just yet – I have forgotten what the command is, and also noticed that these notes only cover ½ Bar, not a whole Bar as I thought.

Ah, good! After some frustration trying to copy and paste/move the notes unsuccessfully, I found a “Duplicate” option in the Piano Roll drop Edit menu. This automatically copies the selected notes (using the Select tool) and puts a copy right on the start of the next ½ Bar:

Looking at the sequencer (Tab) the Channel window is full across the Bar of 8 beats, same as the 8 kick drum notes:

Clicking at the Bar start in the Playlist window and then the note window, locks the notes in Green, and the play marker starts at Bar 1 and loops with the drums:

So what is in the Playlist after all this? Hmm – ok…

…More note data in the Clip.

The kick drum is quiet so I’ll adjust the volume in its Channel setting windows and check its home key – C5.

Looking in the kick Piano Roll I see I had click entered my notes at C3, 2 octaves lower, so that won’t sound so good as it will be such a low note, it may be barely audible – even in good quality headphones, let alone laptop speakers. I’ll transpose these notes up 2 octaves in the Edit menu.

Doing this twice gets from C3 to C5.

I can also click above the velocity bar to raise each velocity to its maximum height:

Ok, better but still not exactly deafening!

I may come back to it later.

I’ll redraw the Hi Hats velocity bars to max also:

I’ll remove all other unused sequencer Channels also, to tidy up so I have just 4 Channels now:

Turning the PercSyn, Hi Hats and snare back on, the Perc is still too loud, and the peak meter is too far in the red, so I’ll reduce Perc volume too, as a level guideline before adding more sounds.

I’ll turn on Portamento and Ping Pong Delay for this too.

It sounds like this:


Hi Hats are loud but not worried right now.

Adding channels to the sequencer just seems to add data to Track 1 only at this point, though I’m sure there are lots of ways to put any sound where you want, that I don’t know yet.

Let’s drag some Audio data as before from the sample Browser.

A Crash to emphasise beat starts in places, and some constant rhythmic bass line backing maybe, like synth pulses? Not that it matters much of course!

The Duplicate – CtrlB – is your friend here, for highlighting Clips and pasting repeatedly along the Bar.

Samples are previewed on click in the browser as we know, so let’s audition some and get dragging some sounds into the Playlist.

The thing to be careful of is watching the exact beginnings of samples don’t drift because of their tails being too long, as you repeatedly Duplicate along the 8 bars, as I noticed the timing getting progressively out as the track moved along, and it didn’t loop correctly at the end of bar 8. It was only apparent why at full zoom using Ctrl + Rclick + Drag Area to zoom in. At normal zoom it all looks ok:

On close zoom, the tails went past beat gridlines and the start of the next sample gets shoved along a fraction:

Also, because the tail drifts over the beat boundary, it didn’t loop on time at the end either. Remember, to place Sample starts, or move ends of Clips accurately, you need Snap set to none.

Here is a good example of the Sample being slightly longer than 1 Bar:

All this junk I threw into the Playlist sounds like this:


So that is it! At least I covered what I set out to, which was to create a multi-tracked section of sounds in the Playlist.


I covered a lot more ground than I set out to (again!) but I think it is important to be thorough in the early stages of this, as what you intuitively want to do in a program reflects the way you think, and what basic expectations you automatically have for the way a program will behave, so you have to find out immediately how to do those things because you will want to do them again in future, for your way of putting things together.

With a program like this you will still be learning years later.