To make everything sound perfect in a production, many people say that everything must be "in key". This means that all instruments must be played in the same "key scale". But this is not always the case. For example, in the genre Jazz, notes are often played just outside of the key scale. Sometimes this is also done to give some "tension" to the tones. But if you keep most of the notes in a specific key scale, it most likely will sound good.
Keep everything in tune
So how do you keep everything in tune? It’s simple with VST’s, keyboards/synths etc, because they’re already in tune. There are also a lot of “one shots”. One shots are basically .wav or .mp3 files of 1 hit on a keyboard or a snare for example. Most people download or buy drum kits from the internet. These drum kits include most likely only one shots of 808s, kicks, snares, claps, percussions, hi-hats and open hi-hats. A lot of these samples are not tuned. This means that if you play the “C” on your MIDI keyboard, the one shot/sample isn’t actually a “C”. This is not always a problem for drums, except for the 808s. You could see 808s as an synth because the duration of these notes/one shots are most likely very long.
Step by step
So how do you make everything in tune in FL Studio? This is also simple. First, I want you to know that in the top left corner in FL Studio there is a “Hint Panel”. This hint panel will show you everything you hover your mouse over.
Once you drop your one shot in the “channel rack” and click on it, there will pop up a window with the sample and on top of this window there will be 3 tabs. The 1st one is the “Sample Settings” (this symbol looks like an audio wave). The 2nd one is the “Envelope/Instruments Settings” (this symbol looks like an automation line). And the 3rd one is the “Miscellaneous Functions” (this symbol looks like a tool).
You want to know what tone your one shot is in. By clicking on the first tab (Sample Settings) you’ll see your audio wave file on the bottom. Right-Click this and click “Edit”. This will automatically open your one shot in Edison (an audio editor from FL Studio).
Right-Click your sample again and click on “Regions” and then on “Detect Pitch Regions”. Now Edison will show you some orange lines with info about the notes that are being played in that part.
The note that has the biggest range will be the note of the one shot. For example, if you do this with an 808, there is a chance that it will give you 2 notes. The note with the longest duration or region is the exact note of the one shot.
Now that you know what tone your one shot is in. You want to have that when you hit the “C” on your MIDI keyboard, that the one shot will actually be played as a “C”. By clicking on the 2nd tab (Envelope/Instrument Settings) there will be a keyboard on the bottom. Now all you must do is Right-Click the Note/Key that your one shot is in (that Edison gave you). Now your one shot/sample will be in tune.
You can do this with any one shot, it could be a keyboard, drum, flute etc. In the end it’s all about what sounds good. But to make every sound in tune/key will a lot of times give you a clean sounding mix of instruments. Just experiment with it. Try to tune all your drums and not only your 808s. Try out stuff with one shots of instruments and not only drums. This will really help you become better at producing and creating an ear for what sounds good.