How To Make Melodies In FL Studio
THIS IS A STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL FOR MAKING INDUSTRY STANDARD MELODIES FOR YOUR BEATS IN FL STUDIO!
As a beginner producer, creating melodies from scratch can be intimidating and difficult. Taking a catchy melody from your head and creating it in FL Studio for your beat is a hard task that takes practice, but there are some techniques you can use to make your melodies sound better instantly. This is the ultimate guide to making melodies for beats in FL Studio.
Before you can start to compose your melody, you need a good sound selection. These are the instruments and sounds you are using to create your melodies. There are a few different choices you can make when it comes to sound selection. You can use VST plugins, instrument one shots, or sampling.
VST Plugins come in two categories, paid and free. Free plugins will either be stock with your copy of FL Studio, or available for download on the internet. For this tutorial, we'll focus on stock plugins. One of the most powerful plugins available with every copy of FL Studio 20 and up is FLEX. With a recent shoutout from rap superproducer Metro Boomin', FLEX contains hundreds of free high quality presets ready to be used in any genre of beat. Here, you can find pianos, guitars, synths, plucks, bass guitars, woodwind and string instruments, and so much more.
Another great stock plugin that comes with every copy of FL Studio is Sytrus. This is a great place to find bells, synths, and pads to add layers of atmosphere to your melodies. Sytrus is an OG stock plugin and has came with FL Studio for over 12 years. Check out some of its presets!
If you don't want to purchase or download a bunch of plugins to make your melodies, or you are working on a computer with low storage or memory, instrument one shots may be the route for you and your melodies. One shot's are audio files, usually either mp3 or wav, that contain a single note of an instrument. You can drag these files into your channel rack and create melodies with them in the piano roll. Since the one shots are samples, there are some cool processing techniques you can use that don't work with VSTs, like envelopes and sliding.
If you are wondering where to find these one shot samples, look no further than right here at WavGrind! Our Producer Growth Kit contains a premium one shot library with bells, keys, pads, flutes, strings, and any instrument you could need, along with 3000 melody samples, drums, and midi files! The best part is all of these are royalty free, meaning you get to keep 100% of your profits and credit!
The foundation of a great melody is a great chord progression. A chord progession can help the journey of your melody from start to finish and be a great supporting force for your top melody. Chord progressions can be complex or simple, and use major or minor chords.
To create your chord progression, you need to pick a key for your melody. If you are making a trap beat of some sort, you'll want to use a minor key. A very popular key for trap beats is C minor, so let's make a C minor chord progression.
If you are just learning how to make chord progressions, I recommend starting on the tonic of the key, which is the first note of the scale. For a C minor key, this would be the C minor chord. This will always sound good when the chord progression is repeated and you won't have to worry about as much music theory. The C minor chord contains the notes C, D#, and G. Here's a diagram:
Once you have your first chord, you get to decide where to take your progression. In trap beats, there is not usually a lot of complexity in the chord progressions. Many trap melodies contain simple, minor chords with a decending bass line.
When creating your chord progression, use your scale as a guide. You can highlight the notes in your scale by opening up the piano roll of an empty sample, going to the top left of the screen and selecting the three lines. A normal minor scale is considered "minor natural," so go down to the minor natural scale and select it. After you have clicked the minor natural scale, click in a note on the root note of your scale. For us, this is the C note.
If you're still having trouble with your chord progression, you can use this one as an example. It is a simple chord progression that can be used for almost any genre. The chord progression is:
C min, A# maj, G# maj, G maj
If you want to experiment with your own chord progressions, you can use midi files. Midi files can provide you instant inspiration for chord progressions and melodies. Right here at WavGrind, we provide midi files composed by multiplatinum producers ready to be turned into your placement ready melodies!
All of our melody packs contain the midi files of the samples and you can get up to a dozen sample packs for free in the Melody Packs tab at the top of the screen!
A top melody is meant to compliment your chord progression and be the lead melody of the track. Usually, this is the most recognizable part of a song and can lead the vocalist as well as the counter melody. Top melodies can be complex or simple. You can have multiple top melodies throughout a track.
A cool technique to add more layers to your melody is to create your top melody in the same piano roll as the chord progression, then copy only the top melody and layer it with a different instrument. This will create a depth for your top melody and it will stand out much more.
Coming up with a top melody for a sample comes with experience and practice. At first, your melodies may not be as good as a top industry producer's and that is okay. Start simple and begin to work on expanding your melodies to become more complex. If you practice your top melodies everyday, you will get much better very quickly.
You want to give your melody some variation so it does not get boring quickly. A great way to do this is by bringing your top melody up an octave every 4-8 bars. This will help fill up the frequencies and bring a great variation for your melody. You can do this with your top melody and also your chord progression. Changing the octaves of the notes in your chords is called inversions. This can be a great way to change the vibe of your chord progression without changing the chords.
Another great way to create variation in your melody is by switching up or removing the top melody completely. With a drum pattern, this can help change the vibe of beat without taking away too much energy. Removing some or all of the notes in a top melody can help create a suspenseful verse between the hooks and the listener will be anticipating the next drop with the full top melody.
LOW END (BASS)
Utilizing a bass in your samples can be a great way to create low end in your melodies and fill out all frequencies. It is important to remember that if you are sending your samples out for other producers to collaborate on, they will want to add their own 808. Because of this, you will want to use your bass in the first 8 bars, then provide 8 bars without the bass, as well as providing all of your instrument stems.
If your melody contains instruments like bells, synthesizers, and plucks, you may want to use a sub bass or synth bass. The synthetic energy of your instruments will pair well with a synthetic sounding bass.
If your melody contains isntruments like piano, orchestral strings, and guitar, you may want to use a bass guitar. Using a bass guitar works best with organic instruments, but of course, like everything else here, this is just a suggestion and you should do whatever works best with your beats.
Your bassline should follow the root notes of your chords. As you can see in the diagram above, this bassline is the simplest version just following the root notes of our chord progression. If you are not comfortable using passing notes or melodic patterns in your bass line, go ahead and use the root notes. Once you are comfortable with the root note patterns, we can start using some more complex melodic patterns.
When changing from chord to chord, you should be using the root note as your bass note, but in between chords, you can add passing notes to make your bassline more complex. When you first start adding passing notes, try to use notes in your chord. You can try the second or third note in your minor or major chord as a passing note from one chord to the next.
You can also choose the length of your passing chords. Some producers like 1 beat passing notes, others like 1/2 beat notes. It all depends on your melody and what you like. Here is the top bassline with some passing notes:
Now that you have a chord progression, top melody, and bassline, we can add some processing to your sample to elevate it to the next level. Processing can include pitch shifting, adding effects, reversing, filtering, or really any type of manipulation for your sample.
The first effect you should add is a mixing technique that will make your low end sound much better. Add a high pass filter to all of your melodies except your bassline. This will free up the low frequencies in your mix so your bass and other instruments do not clash.
Open the Fruity parametric EQ 2 and click the right facing arrow next to "presets" 3 times. This will open the 20Hz + 18kHz cut. From here, click and hold the circle all the way to the left of the EQ and drag it in around the 100Hz zone. This will cut all frequencies below 100Hz and let the bass pattern shine through. Your EQ should look like this diagram:
After you finish your mix, you can begin to add creative processing. This includes effects, pitch shifting, reverse, and any processing that actually changes the creative structure of your melody. The first creative process you can do is add effects to either your instrument stems or your entire melody.
Reverb is iconic for bringing samples to life. Even stock plugins like Fruity Reeverb 2 are used in hit singles and get the job done perfectly. By properly using reverb, you create a brand-new atmosphere for your sample that can change the vibe immensely.
Chorus and Flanger
Fruity Chorus and Fruity Flanger are similar plugins that have extremely powerful presents. These plugins can be used to emphasize chord progressions or elevate melodies. There are dozens of presets that can be experimented with to bring your samples to the next level.
Fruity Love Philter
This is a very powerful plugin with presets that can enhance your melodies with effects and frequencies. This plugin contains EQ filters, gates, distortion, saturation, and much more. Check out this stock plugin available with every copy of FL Studio!
A great way to manipulate your samples is by reversing. There are many different ways to reverse yyour melodies and you can learn more in detail by clicking on the highlighted link above. Here is the simplest way to reverse a sample in FL Studio:
Export out your melody by highlighting the pattern and pressing ctrl + alt + c. This will bring up the export pop-up. Click start. Next, double click your new exported sample to open up the sampler pop-up. Here, you can select Reverse.
After you finish your processing, you can arrange your melody for a full beat. If you are sending your melodies out for collaborations, you do not need to arrange them. Here are some arrangement tips for your melodies:
Add Bass to the Intro
The bass guitar or subbass we created earlier is a great layer to add for your intro. This can create an atmosphere and full frequency mix to lead into the main part of your beat. If you are sending this out to another producer to collab on, they will use the part of your sample with no bass to add the 808.
Take Instruments Out of Verses
Removing certain instruments and layers from your composition will give your beat more time to die down and build suspense for the next drop. After 8-16 bars, remove an instrumental layer to add more variation and get your listener or artist excited for the next drop. Once some time has gone by, you can add your layer back into the track.
If You're Sending Loops Out For Collabs: Add Stems To The End
If you are looking to collab with a producer on a beat and you are the loopmaker, you need to add the stems to the end of your sample. This will give the other producer more creative liberty over the final beat, which will incentivize them to continue working with you. There are many producers who will scrap a beat immediately just because they did not add the stems to the end. Make sure not to lose a connection by making this mistake.
Place each instrumental layer by itself two bars apart after your melody, so any decay or reverb does not overlap and the drum maker can cohesively loop the stems.
Creating melodies can be intimidating and difficult at first, but with some knowledge and a lot of practice, it gets much easier. Breaking down a full melody into simple steps can make this seem like an easier task. Like we went over today, there are a few easy steps that go into making a professional sounding melody.
Breaking down a full melody into individual layers shows us the best way to make a melody step by step. We started with a chord progression that lays the foundation of our sample. As we said before, you can start with premade chord progressions then work on creating your own. From here, we created a top melody and bassline to fill out the frequencies of our mix.
To summarize, here's how to make a melody in FL Studio:
1. Pick a good sound selection for your instruments
2. Create a chord progression to lay the foundation of your track
3. Add a top melody to make your beat catchy and recognizable
4. Use a bassline to fill out the low frequencies of your mix
5. Process your melody with effects and sample manipulation
6. Arrange your full melody
Written by Jake Tompkins