The use of samples has become increasingly popular, a mainstay in music production. The rise of music that evokes a sense of nostalgia has made sampling creep its way into some of the biggest songs today. Samples take many different shapes and sizes and can vary from recorded live instruments to pieces of audio chopped from different songs.
Dealing with samples in FL Studio and audio, in general, has become progressively easier since the release of version 20. In this article, we are going to look at the different ways to change the tempo of a sample in FL.
Before we start looking at how to change the tempo of a sample, it is beneficial if you are already aware of the current tempo setting. This will make the whole process quicker and less tedious. Let’s say you have heard a sample that inspired you to start creating. Nowadays most samples come with the BPM included in the title or embedded in the actual file. If the sample contains this information, all you have to do is click on the icon resembling a waveform located next to the name of the audio clip.
This will bring up a drop-down menu from where you then select “Detect Tempo”.
Once it is open you have a number of ways to change the tempo of the sample. The first option will be an estimated tempo or an embedded one if the sample has its tempo information implanted.
Below the previous option are some ranges. They are 50-100, 75-150, 100-200, and 150-300. These are great if you have an idea of what tempo the sample is based around. From the options, select the one you think your sample lies in and FL will simply detect the tempo for you.
The next option is “Type in (BPM)”. This is to be used when the tempo is known but is not embedded into the actual file. Select this option and a pop-up window will appear allowing you to type in the exact BPM of the sample. In this case, the tempo information has been included in the name of the sample and it is 105. This is what I will type into the window that appears.
If you know how many beats the sample spans over you can use the “Type in (beats)” option. This allows you to type in the number of beats the sample covers and the sample will be stretched out accordingly.
The second last option will contain the value of the project’s tempo. Selecting this will synchronize the sample to the project’s tempo and any future changes in the tempo will stretch the sample to maintain its timing with the project.
The last option is “No Tempo” which is to be used when you believe the sample is not to be tempo-synchronized and should remain as it is. Once you accurately lock in and set the sample’s tempo through any of the aforementioned ways, you can change the project’s tempo freely and the sample will adjust itself automatically.
You can also change the tempo of a sample manually. In cases where you don’t have the sample’s actual tempo, manually stretching could do the trick. To do this, first you have to ensure that the audio stretch feature is on. You can do this in two ways. One, is by pressing its hotkey which is Shift + M. The other is by going to the Clip Focus panel which is located on the left of the scroll bar and right above the tracks’ names. (The region highlighted in yellow.)
Once you have located the Clip Focus panel, click on the icon resembling a waveform.
This will bring up functional options to chose from when dealing with audio clips. The look and number of options may vary depending on which version of FL Studio you are currently running.
If you are running any version before FL Studio 20.9 then you will have two controls. One is an on and off button labelled “z-cross”. This enables or disables FL from checking for zero crossing when editing audio clips. The second is labelled “stretch” and is the one you are looking for.
As the name suggests, this will allow you to stretch the sample to fit your desired strength. It gives the sample elastic qualities and makes it behave like a rubber band. For example, when stretch mode is on you can stretch out a 2 bar long sample and make it play for 4 bars.
For FL Studio 20.9 and later versions the “z-cross” button is replaced by an icon with two arrows pointing away from each other, but serves the same purpose.
Resizing a sample with the stretch mode turned off.
Resizing a sample with the stretch mode on.
Time stretching controls the sample’s duration. To open this feature double click on the audio clip to open up the sampler.
Once it is open drag your mouse cursor to the Time Stretching Panel and place it over the “TIME” knob. This knob controls the time the sample takes to play from start to end. Tweak this knob to change the sample’s tempo manually until it fits into your desired time.
Alternatively, you can right-click the “TIME” knob to access more options from the pop-up menu.
Here we also have the Autodetect and project tempo options that offer the same functions as those discussed earlier in the article.
Below them are some different options namely 1 and 2 beats, 1, 2, 3, and 4 bars. Use these to select the duration you want the sample to play for. For example, when you select 2 bars the sample will be stretched to play from start to end in 2 bars.
The sample’s length is now 2 bars
When you select 4 bars then all the contents of the sample will be stretched to play for 4 bars.
The sample’s length is now 4 bars.
Even if the sample is 3 minutes long and you choose a time of 4 bars, the whole sample will be stretched (or in this case shrunk) to play for its entirety in 4 bars. This is particularly useful when you know the exact number of beats or bars the sample stretches over.
In the digital age where everything can sound the same, standing out from the crowd has never been more trivial. This is where samples prove to be useful. Using samples provides you with the opportunity to bring in different elements to your track that would otherwise be out of reach, too expensive or too much work. Changing the tempo and knowing how to manipulate samples in FL Studio might be exactly what you need to take your sampling skills to the next level.