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Letter of Transmittal

To: FL Studio Music Producers

From: James Hendrie (aka Hendrie Beats)

Musicians have more access to the tools they need to produce music than
ever before. Personal computers have allowed artists to produce music easier than
ever. Unfortunately, most music producers dont have a reliable method to produce
music and find themselves constantly unorganized and lost inside complicated
projects. Artists that dont have an efficient and effective process of producing
music are missing out on many benefits that complete design processes have.
My free paper, Building Blocks, details a design process that gives music
producers the power to stay creative and not get lost in the organization of their
project. It was written for music producers with intermediate to advanced
experience with FL Studio. The process consists of developing music in a loop-based
manner first and then arranging its arrangement/structure second. Building Blocks
works well with all styles and genres of music.
Stop wasting time and precious creative energy on a process that is supposed
to be fast and easy. Please download Building Blocks be emailing
jhendrie25@gmail.com and asking to be sent a copy.

Thank You,
James Hendrie
Email: jhendrie25@gmail.com

Building Blocks
The Instrumental Design Process for Versatile
Music Producers using FL Studio

Written by: James Hendrie (Hendrie Beats)


This is a book that allows instrumental producers to unlock true creativity by
providing a design process that is efficient and effective. The process uses a loopbased technique to build instrument layers first and arrange those instrument layers
second. The DAW of choice is FL Studio 11.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations...................................................................................................... 3
Executive Summary.................................................................................................... 4
Introduction................................................................................................................ 5
1 Organization Conventions.................................................................................... 6
1.1 Numbering..................................................................................................... 6
1.2

Ordering......................................................................................................... 6

1.2.1

Melodic Instruments................................................................................ 6

1.2.2

Percussion............................................................................................... 8

1.2.3

FX............................................................................................................ 8

1.2.4

Vocals...................................................................................................... 8

Pattern Building.................................................................................................... 9
2.1 The Building Process...................................................................................... 9
2.2

Incorporating Different Size Loops...............................................................10

2.3

Linking Tracks to Mixer................................................................................. 11

2.4

Trimming Waveforms................................................................................... 11

2.5

Transitional Structuring................................................................................ 14

2.5.1

Organizing Step Sequencer...................................................................14

2.5.2

Expanding to Mixer................................................................................ 14

2.5.3

Expanding to Playlist............................................................................. 14

3 Arranging........................................................................................................... 16
4 Collaborating...................................................................................................... 18
5 Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 20
Works Cited.............................................................................................................. 21

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
FIGUR
E
Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig.
10
Fig.
11
Fig.
12
Fig.
13
Fig.
14
Fig.
15
Fig.
16
Fig.
17
Fig.
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DESCRIPTION

PAGE

Build Several Tracks


Solo 1 3 Instruments
Build New Instrument Tracks
Repeat Fig. 1 -3
Duplicate and Create Patterns
Link to Mixer
Extended Waveform
Cut Waveform
Zoom Into Waveform
Resize Waveform 1

9
9
9
10
10
11
11
12
12
13

Resize Waveform 2

13

Move Waveform

13

Delete Extra Pattern(s)

14

Split by Channel

14

Arrange Song

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File Browse 1

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File Browse 2

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File Browse 3

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Building Blocks is a design process for music producers that have
intermediate to advanced experience with FL Studio. Building Blocks breaks the
design process into two parts; Pattern Building & Arranging. Pattern Building is a
process of adding instruments, melodies, and other elements. Arranging is where
those patterns are taken and arranged in a song format (chorus, verse, bridge).
Building Blocks includes some highly effective organization conventions to keep
projects easy to read and modify. Finally, it discusses a way to collaborate with other
music producers. Building Blocks purpose is to provide a smooth production
technique for armatures and professionals alike.

INTRODUCTION
My name is James Hendrie aka Hendrie Beats and I have been producing
music for a little over five years. I know from experience that using a reliable design
process when producing music is invaluable especially when artists get in their
creative groove. An article titled, Streamlining Your Songwriting For Maximum
Results published on Songwriting Secrets, explains this well when it said,
Do you sometimes feel your songwriting process is a mess?
By this I mean, do you feel as if there is no structure and youre always
jumping from one thing to another.
And because of this, you let ideas get away from you. You may have a
moment of inspiration, but it doesnt always translate into a completed
masterpiece.
Also, you dont complete nearly as many songs as you feel you should. Youve
always got half finished material that ends up being forgotten.
If this is true for you (And believe me, most songwriters feel this frustration),
why do you think this happens?
Its a good question to ask, because if you can get to the bottom of this
issue if you can learn to streamline your song writing process youll end
up writing many more songs in this lifetime, and at the end of your life youll
be able to look back at these songs and say, I didnt live my life with my
music stuck in my head! (1)
This paper will describe a highly efficient design processes that does not
cause artists to sacrifice quality, but instead allows artists to focus further on it.
This paper explains how to build songs, organize them, and collaborate with
other music producers. This document was written for music producers who have
intermediate or advanced experience with FL Studio.

1 ORGANIZATION CONVENTIONS
These organization conventions are primarily focused on channel naming and
ordering. The Step Sequencer, Playlist, and Mixer are all organized in the same
fashion. If the instrumental design process explained later in this book is used
properly, music producers should only have to name and organize the Step
Sequencer once. The Playlist and Mixer should inherit the Step Sequencers
organization.

1.1 NUMBERING
On many occasions, a project will have multiple instruments. For example, a
project could have three kicks. These kicks should be labeled: Kick 1, Kick 2,
and Kick 3. This numbering system should be applied to all instruments even if
there is only one instance of that instrument type. Lets say, for example, that an
artist has a song which contains one piano. If they reach the Arrangement step and
decide they want to add another piano, but didnt number the first one, theyll have
to rename the original piano in three different places (Step Sequencer, Playlist, and
Mixer). To remove that risk of ridiculous renaming, always add a number after each
instrument.
There is no need for leading zeros. You never need to write, Piano 001, or
Piano 01 you can write Piano 1, instead.

1.2 ORDERING
The ordering of tracks is a valuable and complex process. It is broken down
into four categories and each category has a unique way to be organized. Each
category gets organized and then they all get arranged in the following order:
1)
2)
3)
4)

Melodic Instruments
Drums
FX
Vocals.
1.2.1 Melodic Instruments

Melodic instruments are a fundamental part of music and are placed first in
mixer, playlist, and step sequencer organization. Melodic Instruments are all
instruments except for percussion, FX, and vocals. These Instruments are broken
down into three subcategories Melody, Harmony, and Accent.

1.2.1.1Melody
Tom Zarecki, Radio Broadcasting professor at Western Connecticut State
University, explains in his article, Music's DNA: Melody, Harmony, Rhythm. He
says,
MELODY - the primary sequence of notes in a song. Usually the melody is
the part people sing along with. In songs with vocals, words will be assigned
to the notes and the lead vocalist(s) is/are performing the melody.
During instrumental songs, and during non-vocal parts of vocal songs, the
melody will be played by one or more musical instruments.
Sometimes in songs the melody is prominent and very "singable" (example:
country or rock songs), while in other songs the melody is not as much a
sequence of notes than an expressive chanting series of words (example:
hiphop or rap songs). (1)
Melody Instruments must be placed first in the Melodic Instruments
category. Vocals do not fall into this category even though they can be very similar
in nature.

1.2.1.2Harmony
Zarecki continues to describe Harmony instruments,
HARMONY - the secondary series of a particular sequence of notes or
chords which occur simultaneously with the melody.
A song's harmony always has a different series of notes from the melody,
although sometimes when the harmony is played simultaneously with the
harmony the notes in both may be the same briefly. When two singers or
instruments are playing the same notes instead of harmonizing notes, they
are no longer harmonizing but instead said to be playing "in unison" or
together.
Harmony can be provided in a song either by voices or instruments, but
either way, harmony is added to a song to compliment or enhance the
melody. (1)
Harmony includes all secondary Melodic Instruments and chord
progressions.

1.2.1.3Accent
The third subcategory of Melodic Instruments is accent instruments. These
instruments dont have a complete melody they could only contain a few notes,
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repeat the same note, or generally have a minor contribution to the melody. An
example of this could be a cello pattern that consists on one single low note.
Another example would be a piano that only repeats one note throughout an entire
pattern.

1.2.2 Percussion
The Percussion category contains percussion instruments and is placed
directly after the Melodic Instruments. This category is organized by placing
certain common percussion instruments first and last leaving a large portion in the
middle to place uncommon percussion instruments.
The following percussion instruments get placed at the beginning of the
Percussion section in this order:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Kick
Snare
Clap
Hi Hat
Open Hat

Uncommon percussion instruments get placed directly after the designated


common percussion instruments in this order:
1. Shaker
2. Maraca
3. Tambourine
4. Djembe
5. Tom
6. Congo
7. Clave
8. Wood Block
9. Triangle
10.Ratchet
11.Timpani
Rides, Cymbals, and Crashes get placed at the end of the Percussion section.
1.2.3 FX
This category is intended to be populated with sound FX and follows the
Percussion category. The following sounds are all examples:

Airplane takeoff
Crowd cheering
Car driving past
Nature sounds (birds and wildlife)
Cell phone voicemail
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1.2.4 Vocals
The final category is Vocals and is placed last because vocals are normally
the final addition to an instrumental. This category gets filled with lead vocals,
background vocals and adlibs in that order.

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2 PATTERN BUILDING
2.1 THE BUILDING PROCESS
Extend Pattern one to eight, sixteen or 32 bars (16 is most common). Add
instruments to that pattern until the pattern sounds full. A pattern is full when it
sounds like adding any more instruments would be overly complicated, messy, or
unnecessary. This can usually be achieved with 4 9 instruments (figure 1).

BUILD SEVERAL TRACKS


Fig.
1
Once the pattern sounds full, mute every track except for 1 -4 instruments
so it sounds empty (figure 2). An empty pattern sounds like it is incomplete or it
has more space to grow.

SOLO 1 3 INSTRUMENTS
Fig.
2
You will then be able to add more instruments to fill up the pattern again
(figure 3).

BUILD NEW INSTRUMENT TRACKS


Fig.
3

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As this process continues, choose different instruments to start with to give


variation to your design process (figure 4). Dont always start with the same
instrument track when you are building the pattern.

SOLO DIFFERENT TRACKS

BUILD NEW
NEW INSTRUMENT
INSTRUMENT TRACKS
Fig.
TRACKS
4
2.2 INCORPORATING DIFFERENT SIZE LOOPS
If someone wants a 16 bar loop and a 32 bar loop, they should create a
second pattern, extend it 32 bars, and duplicate the first pattern (figure 5). Continue
to duplicate and add patterns as needed. Certain things such as background singing
call for a very long loop. You can duplicate as many times as you need to give the
singer ample time to record.

DUPLICATE PATTERN 1

CREATE PATTERN 2

Fig.
5
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2.3 LINKING TRACKS

TO

MIXER

There will be plenty of instances where someone would want to link an


instrument to the mixer to add effects while they are building their pattern(s) I do
it all the time. Properly rename the instrument before linking it. When an instrument
is linked to the mixer, the mixer track receives the name and color of the instrument
(figure 6). If the instrument has a funky name, then the mixer will also have a funky
name. This is only to prevent people from having to rename things more often they
need to.

2.4 TRIMMING

Fig.
W6
AVEFORMS

1. It is very common for a vocal or instrument track to extend past the


loop size (see figure 7).

2.

Cut Waveform
Fig.
7
Cut the track at the beginning / end of the loop (see figure 8).
3. Make sure to zoom in and check if the cut was exactly on that line.
Many times FL Studio slices the audio inaccurately and that can cause
problems for the overall loop. Resize the waveforms to line up with the
end of the loop exactly (see figures 9 - 11).

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Fig.

Resize Waveform
Fig.
Fig.
9
10

Move Waveform

Fig.
11
4. Move the extended waveform to the beginning of the loop

Move Waveform

Fig.
12
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5. Delete the secondary portion of the loop.

Delete
Fig.
13
That is the full process required to trim extended waveforms to fit inside loops.

2.5 TRANSITIONAL STRUCTURING


2.5.1 Organizing Step Sequencer
Rename and order the step sequencer using the Organizing Conventions in
chapter one.
2.5.2 Expanding to Mixer
Link each instrument channel to the mixer that havent been previously
linked. Organize the mixer to reflect the step sequencer. Artists should verify that
the mixer channel names match the step sequencer channel names. Mixer channels
that had previously been linked could be misnamed.
2.5.3 Expanding to Playlist
Split your pattern(s) by selecting Pattern Selector > Split by Channel on the
step sequencer. (see fig. X)

Fig.
14

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Note: Make sure all patterns are placed on the playlist before you split them by
channel. If they are not then artists will have to add each newly-split pattern to the
playlist individually. That can get annoying.
At the close of the pattern building process, you should have one or more
patterns with many instrument channels (about 11 30). Keep in mind that a large
project does not equal a good project. Simplicity is sometimes the best route to
take. Sometimes musicians start with a great song, but continue to build it until
there is too much going on and it is not-so-great anymore.

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3 ARRANGING
Arrangement takes the pre-built patterns and organized them on the playlist.
This is when a songs structure is decided. Choruses, verses, bridges, intros and
outros are all elements of a songs structure. Mahmoud Ibrahim, owner of Song
Writing Fever (a song writing collaboration website), spoke about song structure in
his article, How to Get Started with Songwriting. Ibrahim said,
A song usually has three short melodies, two of which are repeated several
times
Chorus: The chorus is a lyrics-music combination that is repeated with little or
no change throughout the song. Usually, the chorus's lyrics include the song
title and give the listener a general idea about the song's topic. The chorus
music includes the catchiest melody in the song and it is usually the part that
your listener will remember from your song.
Verse: The verse has the second melody of the song; this melody hardly
changes throughout the song. The verse's lyrics are actually what usually
change; as the verses usually give details about the song's topic. Notice that
no matter how the lyrics change they all have to fit the same melody, without
having to look "artificial"...This actually is a great challenge for the lyricist ;).
Bridge: The third melody and the one that -in most song structures- appears
only once. It is better if the listener gets a small surprise in the bridge; may
be a change in the chord structure or a smooth shift to another scale...etc.
However, the bridge's melody almost always ends by shifting back to the
original mood and repeating the chorus all over again. As for the bridge's
lyrics they usually represent a conclusion or a flash back to the whole song,
this adds to the surprise. Sometimes, -especially in Rock- the bridge is just an
instrumental solo with no lyrics.
But how are those three parts arranged in the song? Well, you got Chorus,
verse and bridge...Yes, arrange them in any way you want, but don't get too
messy or your listener will get lost. To make it easier, songwriters have come
up with these agreed-on song structures. Most of the songs follow three
structures
verse / chorus / verse / chorus / verse...etc.
verse / chorus / verse / chorus / bridge / (verse) / chorus
verse / verse / bridge / verse (1)
Duplicate a loop between ten and twenty times (see figure X). Subtract patterns
until the song takes shape (see figure X).

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DUPLICATE PATTERN
START WITH YOUR LOOP

ARRANGE SONG

Fig.
15

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4 COLLABORATING
Exporting FL Studio project files is the easiest and most beneficial way to
collaborate. The single and sizable opportunity cost of collaborating via project files
is that you are only able to collaborate with producers using the FL Studio of the
same or higher version. When an artist collaborates with another artist using project
files, the receiving artist has full control over the project. Artists should create a
folder on their desktop named Collaborations. This will be where collaboration
projects will be housed. Properly rename any projects before exporting them.
1. Artist should export a songs project bones to their Collaborations
folder (see figure 16). This option can be found in File>Export>Project
bones. This will create a folder named after the project and will place
five additional folders inside of it (see figure 17).

Fig.
17

Fig.
16
2. Artists should then export the
Project data files into the
newly created folder that is
named after the song by
selecting File>Export>Project
data files (see figure 18).
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Fig. 18

3. Lastly, artists should move the project file to their project bones folder
DO NOT COPY. If artists copy project files instead of moving them,
they would have to update both project files whenever they make a
change. Also, artists are less inclined to modify the project. If artists
modify the project even a little they will have to re-export their
entire project to keep it accurate.
Importing a project that was compiled in this fashion is simple; open the .flp
file.

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5 CONCLUSION
Building a song from scratch can be a difficult and daunting task. A project
can get unorganized and confusing very quickly without a dependable design
process.
The article titled, Streamlining Your Songwriting For Maximum Results
continued to say,
Its vitally important that in your song writing process you keep the
CREATIVE tasks and CRITICAL/ORGANIZATIONAL tasks separate. There are
some very interesting psychological reasons for this. To give you a brief
overview, when you COMBINE these different tasks you will block much of
your creative potential, therefore sucking a lot of the power out of your song
writing process. (1)
The organizational techniques described in this document will allow artists to
truly keep their creative tasks separate from their organizational tasks. The
explained design process will allow music producers to create more freely by
allowing their workspace to be organized and easy to navigate.

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WORKS CITED
Ibrahim, Mahmoud. "How to Get Started with Songwriting." Song Writing Fever. N.p. n.d. Web. 22
Apr. 2015.
Secrets, Songwriting. "Streamlining Your Songwriting For Maximum Results." Songwriting Secrets.
N.p. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Zarecki, Tom. "Music's DNA: Melody, Harmony, Rhythm." Hub Pages. N.p., 13 Jan. 2013. Web. 21
Apr. 2015.

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