Join Rick Schmunk for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding Session view, part of Ableton Live 8 Essential Training.
A large part of successfully using an application like Live is being familiar and comfortable with the software interface. So before we dig deeper into Live, let's take a look at the main components of the Session View window. Let's start with two areas of the window that help you figure out things as you're working with Live. I will start here in the lower left-hand corner with Info view. Info view displays information on anything that you point your mouse at. So, if I go up here and point at this Solo button, it will show me that that's the Solo/Cue button. Over on the far right-hand side of the program, we have Help view.
Help view includes step-by-step lessons to do certain things in Live. I can always go to the Home area by clicking the Home button, and then I can come down here and I can click on the hyperlink for Show All Lessons. This will take me to an area where I can click until I find something that's pertinent to what I am trying to learn. You can close Help view by clicking on the little x here. You can reopen it by coming over to View and clicking on Help view. Above Info view, we have the browser, and we'll talk about that in the next video.
Above the browser, we have controls that allow us to set tempo and change tempo and things like that. So the tempo over here, if I click on that, I can either click and drag a new tempo, or I can type a value in, and that will affect playback. So I click on one of our clips here. We'll hear that playback. (Drums playing.) Now I'll click there and change the tempo back to 110 and play that again.
(Drums playing.) And we can hear that playing faster. Now we can do that while we are playing back, (Drums playing.) and Live dynamically changes the tempo. Other times you are not quite sure what you want the tempo to be. You can actually click on the Tap button, while Live is playing back, and it will calculate the tempo from your click. (Drums playing.) So you could see that I was doing that slower and faster by just simply clicking on the Tap button.
Let me reset that back to 110. To the right of the Tempo field, I've got the Meter field. Now I am in 44, but if I was in 34 or some of the time signature, I can indicate that there. To the right of the Meter field, I've got the Metronome button. So if I need to click to provide some rhythmic reference while I'm trying to record a part, I can enable the click. (Drums playing to a click.) So you could hear the click playing along with that clip. If I need a count-in prior to recording, I can right-click on the metronome button and choose a count-in length from the contextual menu: 1 bars, 2 bars, and 4 bars. And you'll hear that number of clicks prior to actually the start of recording.
To the right of the Tempo and Metronome fields, I have the transport controls: I have the Play button, Stop button, and the Record button. (Drums playing to a click.) Further over on the control bar, I have controls that work with punching in and punching out, and looping. So, if I need to protect an area that's already been recorded, when I want to record an area that needs to be fixed, I can enable the Punch-In and Punch-Out buttons. To the right of that, I have buttons to do with key and midi mapping.
This first button here is called the Computer MIDI Keyboard key. If I record-enable a MIDI track--I am going to click the Stop Clips button, because I don't want that audio clip to play-- I can now trigger this MIDI clip by simply pressing on the A key, and the other keys to the right of that on that row of your computer keyboard. (Drum sounds.) To the right of the mapping buttons, I have the CPU load indicator, which tells me if Live is working too hard. And to the right of that, I have the hard disk overload indicator, and then I have the MIDI in and out indicators.
So for instance, if I hit that A key on my keyboard again, you'll see that light up to indicate that it's receiving MIDI signal. In the middle of Session view, we have the track area. And at the top of these vertical tracks, I have clip slots where I can drop clips. I can launch a clip by simply clicking on the Clip Launch button; (Drums playing.) I can stop that by clicking the Stop button or the Spacebar on your keyboard. Below that I have controls that affect the playback of the clips on that track.
For instance, I have the Volume slider here, so I can change volume as the clip is playing back. I am going to turn off the click. (Drums playing.) I can also mute the track by click the Track Activator button, or solo it by clicking the Solo button, and record- enable by clicking the Record Enable button, and also affect the pan position by clicking and dragging on the Pan knob here, for example.
(Drums playing.) On the far right of the track area, we have the Show/Hide buttons. So, if there's something on the track itself that's not showing that you need to use, you can show/hide those areas of the track by clicking these buttons. So I is for I/O, S for send, R is for the return tracks, and this for the mixer, for example. And you can also use keyboard shortcuts to do that.
For example, the I/O field can be opened and closed by going Command+Option+I on a Mac or Ctrl+Alt+I on a PC. The Sends area: Command+Option+S on a Mac or Ctrl+Alt+S on the PC, and so on. If I click on a clip, I'll see the details of that clip showing down here in the Details area. Now, since I've got a MIDI clip selected, I can see MIDI note blobs here in the MIDI Note Editor. If I click on the Device view here, I'll see the device chain that is part of that particular MIDI clip, and I've only got one thing happening at this time.
It's a little bit different if I click on an audio clip. In this case there's no device, but if I click on the clip overview there, I'll see the audio waveform in the Sample Editor. I can open and close this area by going Command+Option+L on a Mac or Ctrl+Alt+L on a PC. On the far right of the track area, I have the Master track, and what look like clip slots here are actually scenes. That means that I can actually launch all the clips on a row by clicking the Scene Launch button.
I am going to click the Stop Clips button here so that nothing is selected. Now, when I click on this Launch button it's going to launch all the clips on that row. (Music playing.) You saw when I clicked on the second Launch button it launched the clips on that particular row. Now to the right of the master track area, I have two buttons that allow me to switch between Live's main two Windows.
Currently we are in Session view, and if I click the button above that, we'll go into Arrangement view. Now, I can switch between these windows by using these two buttons, or I can simply press the Tab key. Being familiar with the program's interface is key to successfully using the application. Now that we have taken a closer look at the Live Session View window, we are ready to dig in and learn how to use the program to make music.
- Putting together a DAW system
- Setting up Ableton preferences
- Importing and exporting content
- Recording MIDI
- Editing and quantizing MIDI data
- Recording audio
- Recording in Arrangement view
- Using sends and returns in the Live Mixer
- Grouping tracks
- Signal processing
- Creating and editing automation envelopes
- Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
- Looping and warping audio clips
- Mapping device controls to a MIDI keyboard
- Working with virtual instruments
- Integrating Live with Pro Tools and Logic
Skill Level Beginner
Q: Can I use Ableton Live Lite to work through this course?
A: For the most part, yes. However, there are a few limitations. For example, there are some drum sounds that won’t work with the Lite version. Lite also has a limited track count, which may cause problems with some of the larger Live Sets in the course. If you do not have the full version of Ableton Live, you can download a demo of Ableton Live Suite (http://www.ableton.com/download-suite-trial), which will run for 30 days. This will allow you to do everything in the course, and get a look at what the full version can do at the same time.