If you want to get started making music in the form of beats or songs with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) you can take my free Ableton Live course for beginners. There’s no experience necessary. All you need to do is download the Ableton Live Suite 90-Day Free Trial and sign up for my Ableton Live course. In 90 minutes I’ll show you how to make a simple drum beat, bassline, chord progression and melody. I’ll show you how to record your voice into the software and create a vocal chop. Finally, you’ll find out how to balance your levels, add some effects, export your song and share it with your friends. The best way to learn this new software is to just follow my lead and do what I do. In this article, I’ll give you a quick overview of Ableton Live's 5 main views.
What is Ableton Live?
Ableton Live is a software program that lets you write, perform and produce music. It’s based on the same principles as other widely-used software DAW programs like Logic Pro or Cubase, but it was designed to make it easier to work with music in real time. The interface is full of features that make it intuitive for any type of musician. Ableton Live uses digital audio samples and MIDI files to create the sounds of drums, bass, synthesizers and many other sounds. You can build up your beat or song with multiple instruments that live on separate tracks. The performance information for each track lives in the audio and MIDI clips. These clips can be played back individually or in rows called scenes.
What is Ableton Live's Session View?
The Session View is the default mode of operation in Ableton Live. This view is designed with a grid system that makes it easy to organize and arrange the clips in your song. In this view, you can see all the instrument tracks laid out horizontally and multiple performance clips can be stacked vertically on each track. While Session View is great if you want a simple way to start looping your tracks and come up with song ideas, there are some situations where Arrangement View makes more sense.
Ableton Live Session View
What is Ableton Live's Arrangement View?
Arrangement View is probably the most familiar mode of operation for most users. It shows a linear timeline where song sections and performance clips are arranged sequentially from left to right. Multiple audio and MIDI tracks can be stacked vertically. This left to right timeline is used by most DAW users to develop their beat or song sections sequentially from start to finish. Arrangement View also allows you to focus on arrangements while simultaneously scrolling through the individual parts of an arrangement. This gives you a bird's eye view of your project so that any changes or edits can be made easily and quickly. If you need multiple views of your project at one time, then this is excellent for multitasking!
Ableton Live Arrangement View
Can I Use Session & Arrangement View Together?
The Arrangement and Session views are different modes of operation for the program. Only one mode can be used at a time to control the playback of the clips. Whichever view is used first to populate the tracks with performance clips is the one that starts off with control of the playback of those clips. You can switch between sSession view and Arrangement view at any time to best see what each mode has to offer. To give control to the Session view, press on any clip or scene while in Session view. To give the Arrangement View control, press the “Back to Arrangement” button in either view. If your tracks require more focus on instrument layouts or arrangement performance, then switching to Arrangement View is better suited to your needs.
Use the Tab key to toggle between the two views. Both views provide quick access to the instrument presets and audio or MIDI effects. This makes it easy for you to find the right sound without having to search through various menus.
Back to Arrangement toggles playback control between the two views
What is Ableton Live's Clip View?
Clip view can be seen in the bottom of both the Arrangement or Session views. The clip view shows the content of the selected clip. These clips can contain digital audio or MIDI. If the clip contains digital audio the audio clip will be housed in a sampler which can control all the audio playback parameters like pitch, filter and volume envelope. If the clip contains MIDI information it will be housed in a MIDI clip editor where note pitch and sequencing information can be edited.Pressing Shift + Tab will toggle between the Clip view and Device view.
Ableton Live Clip View
What is Ableton Live's Device View?
The Device view shows the instruments and audio or MIDI effects inserted on the track of the selected clip. If it’s a MIDI clip it will show any MIDI effects first, followed by the instrument or soft synth and then any audio effects. If the clip contains digital audio, the Device view will only show any audio effects inserted on the track of the selected clip.
Ableton Live Device View
What is Ableton Live's Info View?
The Infor view is a help view that gives a summary about any button or area that the user hovers over. Just read this information that pops up in the box in the bottom left corner. This makes learning new things about Ableton Live easy for both veterans and noobs alike.
Ableton Live Info View
Conclusion: Ableton Live is a great DAW to learn to get started in music production, beatmaking and songwriting. Learn how to navigate and utilize the 5 Views: The Session and Arrangement views will give you options to start building instrument tracks filled with recorded or programmed performance clips. The Clip and Device views allow you to control and edit the content of the clips. The Info view is your guide to understanding every control and parameter of the software. Take my Ableton Live course online for free to learn more.
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Futch - Music Production Coach, Ableton Certified Trainer
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