How to Use the FL Studio Piano Roll

FL Studio is popular for their user-friendly scoring system and they are always intuitive in their approach. The studio piano roll has been popular among the music makers for some decent reasons. You can see the discussion below to know those reasons in details. Also, you can learn how the tools of FL studio piano can be used. The famous Riff machines can be manipulated as a part of FL studio piano rolls and that process will be described below. There are shortcuts are also very useful for the sound engineers so you can enhance your music production further with the help of these.

How to find the FL Studio Piano Roll

First, we will discuss how you will find the FL Studio piano roll window. The few ways are listed below:

Go to the channel rack, and then toggle between a step sequencer and piano roll overview. Then you can click on the gray space which is next to the channel. The click will open up the piano roll for that particular channel. Near the toolbar, you can find the piano roll display that shows with which channels the piano roll is associated.

You can click on the view piano roll button which is situated on the top toolbar. Here you will find the currently selected channel’s piano roll. From the keyboard, you can press shortcut F7 and the same process will be followed.

Functionality of FL Studio Piano Roll

FL Studio Piano Roll Functionality

1. Piano Roll Options:

This area helps us to save and load score presets, access to edit and selection. Also, you can view options from here, toggle visual aids and helpers. There is an option to create note groups or add time markers. Also, you can set target channels and target controls for the piano roll from here. We have listed a few options here as they are also present in the toolbar as buttons. Later these buttons will get their own subsections:

  • Under file, you can get a score or save score preset files which are called generally .fsc files.
  • Under view, you will find the aesthetic settings like changing grid colours, grid time demarcations, note appearances and keyboard appearances and so on.

Select operations:

There are various shortcuts for the select operations.


From here you can link selected notes together so they behave like one note and you can move around or operate on them.


This option is for zoom in and out and also a few more zoom option preset settings are there.

Time markers:

If you need to keep track of long patterns this option becomes useful.

2. Tools:

This button is also a part of piano roll options. You can get 18 tools here.

  • Riff Machine:

You can reach this option by pressing alt+E.  This tool can be used to create your own melodies and riffs in the piano roll. It is arranged into eight different steps and from here you can choose the .fsc score files. From here you can customize the settings of each further step. Also if you want you can bypass each step and toggle the aqua green box button to the next step name.

Step 1: How to choose a note progression

To begin with, you can choose a .fsc file from the FL studio presets as this will be present in the Riff Machine step 1 folder. Or else you can create your own note progression. Now you can toggle between preset.fsc file progression and your own progression, by clicking work on existing score button.  Now you can use the time multiplier knob to change the length of notes after the preset is activated. Also, the entire length of progression can be changed by using the length ticker. This you can do by clicking on the chord tab at the top, and that is how you will get to the next step.

Step 2: Choose a Chord Progression:

You need to choose a .fsc file from the Riff machine step 2 folder which adds some more notes to the progression to form chords. It will make a pattern sound a bit more interesting. Now you can choose from your own chord progression in this step.

Step 3: Add Arpeggiation:

Now you will choose an arpeggiation.fsc file from Riff machine folder. This will add more complexity to your arpeggiation. You can change its range, note length, time multiplier and tinker.

Step 4: Add Mirroring or Flipping:

In this step, you can flip the pattern by horizontally or vertically. You can experiment with the buttons and listen to the sound to feel which one suit you better.

Step 5: Add Humanizing effect:

Use the randomizer tool (alt+R) which puts velocity, panning and pitch to other note properties. This also applies a randomizing algorithm. This way the pattern sounds less mechanic. There is the seed arrow which will change the algorithm and the levels knob will change the average amount of level deviation. There is a bipolar button allows you to toggle the levels above and below the default.

Step 6: Art:

This tab will help you add further humanization. The variation knob will add random variation and random deviation to the note length. The seed button will mix the notes up.

Step 7: Add groove:

Here you can choose a .fsc file so you can groove and swing to the mood and pattern.

Step 8: Fit:

The final riff machine can add steps and scale restriction. Now you can play notes with perfect scale and specified key. You can choose these options from drop-down keys or transpose the pattern up or down.

There are more tools here which can be used by shortcuts:

  • Quick Legato (CTRL+E) – This allows no silence between notes.  Quick legato will extend or chop the selected notes altogether.
  • Articulator (Alt+L) – This works the same as art tab of the Riff machine. It randomizes the note length and changes the amount of space between notes.
  • Quick Quantize (Ctrl+Q) – This makes the note lengths same and fits them into grid snap intervals.
  • Quick Quantize Start Times ( Shift+Q) –  this one start times take all the notes and shift them to the beginning of grid snap intervals.
  • Quantize (Alt+Q)-  it adds details to quantization options. it will add groove to the piano roll patterns.
  • Quick chop (Ctrl+U) – it will cut off the notes based on current grid snap interval settings.
  • Chop (Alt+U) – it lets you use .fsc file as a chopping template. You can choose a template from the chopping.fsc directory and change the multiplier for the convenient effect.
  • Glue ( Ctrl+G) – it works just the opposite of chop.  It can fuse the adjacent notes. You need to touch the notes together to get this done.
  • Arpeggiate (Alt+A) – This works as Riff Machine. it can change the arpeggio range, gating and time multiplier.
  • Strum (Alt+S) – this staggers the start times and velocities of notes. Also, the start time is shared in a chord to create a strumming effect.
  • Flam (Alt+F) – this is a drum rudiment which allows a lighter hit to come before the main hit. They are played together and thus it sounds like a long drum bit.
  • Claw Machine (Alt+W) – it removes, adds and shifts notes so a new and more complex pattern is created.
  • Limit (Alt+K)-  it chooses a scale and key to restrict the pattern to those notes only.
  • Flip (At+Y) – it can flip and mirror the note pattern to gain inspiration.

There are other options like snap to grid, stamp, draw, paint, paint in drum sequencer mode, delete mute, slice, select, zoom, playback, play and pause pattern, target channel,  change note size,  target channel, change note size, time marker bar, change colour or toggle note portamento and slide as well as piano roll grid and event editor. The LFO and scale level tools can be activated during editing events and these tools level the piano roll editor. Scale levels can also change all note properties to maintain the relative difference.


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