FL Studio’s live performance functionality has been teased for some time online, attracting enraptured eyeballs and plenty of discussion online. Now, you can give it a try for yourself in the new FL Studio 10.5 beta. My prediction: it’s definitely huge for FL Studio die-hards, but it could also attract some “lapsed” FL users back to the fold, and it’s almost certainly a reason to fire up a copy of Windows. (That’s the sound of a bunch of Boot Camp installations.)

The best way to see what the performance mode is about is in the video above. It’s actually a bit more basic than some of the teasers we’ve seen – there isn’t quite as much fancy trigger-mode action – but it’s easier to follow how the software works.

I’m of the mind that music and music technology alike benefit from a range of ideas, even conflicting ideas. What I like about FL Studio’s approach to performance is that it isn’t exactly like what you get with Ableton Live. It’s not unrelated – we’re looking at several controllers designed for Ableton, and there are certainly noticeable similarities in the ability to trigger blocks of time, some owed to Ableton and some more generally attributable to loop and sample tools over the years. But you get some new angles, and there’s really no mistaking this for anything other than FL. A few highlights, evident in the video:

  • Audio, automation, and pattern clips in any combination
  • Move directly from a linear arrangement to live triggering – something unique to this tool.
  • Combine a bunch of controllers – and use a range of stuff (Akai APC, Novation Launchpad, and Korg kontrolPAD make appearances)
  • Slice clips horizontally into more clips (that’s definitely not possible directly in Ableton’s Session View)
  • Novel triggering modes and arrangements – a bit like Follow Actions, as some Ableton users have noted, but with some unique twists, and again, all in a linear arrangement view.

More videos in Image-Line’s development series, or read the manual.

I love this slicing workflow, too, using Slicex and not just the Playlist:

It’s really that moment where you take your finished, linear arrangement and start remixing it in non-linear fashion – without having to switch software modes or resample the content – that I think is a big deal. (It’s especially nice when you slice up existing bits of that arrangement even further.) This is not only something you can’t do directly in Ableton Live, but it’s distinct from live performance workflows in a lot of other hardware and software.

Now, whether that’s actually musically useful is another question, and certainly the musical result in these videos is not distinguishable from what people are doing with Ableton – for better or for worse.

But, then, that’s really down to you, the users, as much as the tool.

FL Studio 10.5 is, according to developer Image-Line, a step on the way to the finished FL Studio 11.

This should also tantalize some users (and, I hope, attract some of our cleverer CDM readers and FL users):

We are looking for input from iOS (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch) and Android users to help with touch-based support/scripting/ideas for Performance Mode (see left).

More on that, in case you missed it in FL’s newsletter.

For working directly on mobile, FL Studio mobile has also gotten an update.

Full details of what’s in 10.5 from Image-Line:

  • Performance Mode – Trigger Clips using your mouse, touch screen, typing keyboard or MIDI controller.
  • New controllers supported – APC20/40, Launchpad, Block, MASCHINE / MASCHINE MIKRO, padKONTROL
  • Unique controller MIDI input port – Controllers can now be assigned unique input & output ports for feedback.
  • Linking includes MIDI input port – Links now use MIDI input ports to avoid conflict between controllers
  • New Content Library – The content library has received a complete overhaul based on user input.
    Options > Project general settings > Play truncated notes in clips – Restores notes overlapping slice points in Pattern Clips.
  • Horizontal/Vertical movement locking – Shift (horizontal lock) & Ctrl (vertical lock) when moving items.
  • Piano roll click & hold functions – Glue notes, Mouse wheel velocity change, Mouse wheel tool select.
  • Piano roll – Brush tool: Monophonic step mode (hold shift for old behavior). Chop chords: Strum & Articulate tools.
  • Improved Tap Tempo & Fine control – Updated algorithm + nudge control for Performance Mode.
  • Instrument Channels – Ctrl+mouse wheel on Channel button to change the mixer track.
  • Stay open sub-menus – Right click to check several menu items without closing them.
  • Plugin Picker – Start typing plugin names to highlight entries.
  • Right-click data enter – Most controls now allow a Right-click option to type in values.

10.5 Beta [Image-Line]

  • Hz

    The set up to performance mode is kind of ..complicated! Why should have to thru all this just to do some performing, reminds me of the pain of logic touch tracks. i’m sticking with Live and Maschine.

    • http://profiles.google.com/trebtid Polite Society

      Changing to performance mode and dragging your samples to the squares is complicated?

      I can’t imagine how it would be any easier. Unless you have a chaotic organisational style to your composing, which sometimes gets the better of me, too.

    • DSP

      Don’t confuse the detail of the video, which is a complete tutorial, with complexity of the setup. Run a macro, drag some clips and delete everything after the start-marker. Quicker than Live AFAIKS. 

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yeah, I think they’re just trying to go into some detail. But obviously, this is also why I say at the outset, I like having alternatives, genuinely different options so you can choose whichever is most comfortable to you.

  • http://profiles.google.com/trebtid Polite Society

    I dig it. I’m pretty glad that they have a keyboard mode as well. I’m going to have to try it out when i get home, and contemplate that launchpad.. or maybe finally making that chronome.

  • coolout

    It’s good to see someone else slide into Ableton’s lane. Competition will only push things forward. I can’t wait to see Bitwig and how Ableton will respond to these challengers.

    BTW- With a Launchpad and Nativekontrol’s LPC (my current obsession) you can natively chop/trigger both midi and audio clips without re-sampling and record it directly into the arrangement without M4L or extra plugins. LPC basically changes the clip’s playhead/loop region on-the-fly.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

       See comment above from an Image-Line person – it works both ways. I was just impressed at having a workflow that goes the other direction, which isn’t quite as intuitive in Ableton.

  • nucleon

    Starting with an existing arrangement is just one way of working with performance mode.

    You can also begin with a blank project and fill the performance zone with brand new content.

    Then record your performance to an arrangement

    if needed.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Good point! Yeah, obviously, we need to take a more detailed look at how this works (and I need to refresh my Windows Boot Camp partition on my new machine).

      While obviously it’s nice to go performance > arrangement, at least (with hardware and software alike), we have had some ways of doing that. To me, there really haven’t been many tools that seamlessly let you go from arrangement to performance, which is very often what happens as you’re producing music and then performing live!

  • http://twitter.com/nontablist Octavio Obaid

    what if i want to play more than 1 song???

    • Tte

      Exactly the same deal as using Live. Organise your instruments into groups and set up mixes and mutes. It’s all in how you prepare your mixing desk into submixes.

  • Viberations

    i wonder if they plan to implement performance mode into FL Studio Mobile, that’d be sick… I’d be able to play sets purely on ipad only, whenever wherever.. and if you add ipad3 retina graphics to it – god that would be awesome.. can any image line person clarify here if they have plans for it please?

  • Illienrosewell

    How can I link my Maschine Mikro to fl 10 in use as a vst?  I’ve been linking it to my fpc but I Feel like I’m missing out on the Native instrument sounds that came with it!! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001040108735 Wes Shinn

    can someone please tell me how to set this thing up i really want to use the apc40 with it but when i download the beta i dont know what to do after?

    • Tte

      If the videos don’t help you then there’s plenty of help in the IL forums.

  • ur a mac fag

    another mac fag. most everything on the internet is made for windows 7 and xp.