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Session & Arrangement View Explained

In this video we cover the differences between session and arrangement view.

To break this down in as little words as possible, Session and Arrangement view are almost completely separate entities from one another. What happens in one view DOES NOT happen in another.

Session view is where most projects start out. this is a place where ideas can be born and developed, clips can be built and an arrangement can be drafted without the worry of anything being too permanent. This is simply a ‘colour pallete’ of all of your ideas, where your free to move them around, edit them and see how your different tracks and clips interact with each other. Session view is also how most live performers choose to use live.

At some point, this colour pallete can then be used to ‘paint a picture’ or create a full arrangement in arrangement view. This allows us to take our ideas and ‘map’ them onto the time domain (arrangement view) this gives us a clear indication of the start, middle, and end of our track and start to make things a little more concrete for how the track is going to come together.

Once we have a rough track laid out in session view, we can then continue to work on our ideas, to build our arrangement and add extra tracks and clips as we go.

The most important thing to understand is that when we make edits to clips in arrangement view, they will not alter the clips in session view.

Ableton’s audio can only play either session or arrangement view at any one time, not both. This is why we sometimes see the orange ‘back to arrangement view’ button lit up at the top of our project. this indicates there is a clash or difference between what we are hearing and the view we are working in. so clicking ‘back to arrangement’ will ensure that what we see in arrangement view is what we are hearing.

The reason this button might light up is if you are switching between views. Ableton live can only play one clip per track at a time. And if you have an arrangement in arrangement view, and you then decide to play a bunch of clips in session view, Ableton is going to now play the session view clips for those particular tracks instead of the arrangement. You will notice that those tracks in arrangement view are now greyed out to indicate that there is a mismatch and something in session view is playing instead. You will also now see the orange ‘back to arrangement button’ lit up as well to remind you of this.

There are some things however that are universal to both session and arrangement view. Both views share the same mixer, devices, and tracks. it is only the clips and notes themselves that differ between the two different views. so if you alter a volume fader in arrangement view, you will notice it also changes in session view and likewise this is also the same with devices.

If you still find you are confused or that there are unusual things going on in your project then it is likely that this is caused by automation, either in session or arrangement view. Automation can cause faders and controls to be automated and jump around and change depending on what view your in and what clip is playing, so if this is the case then check out our videos on automation and modulation and you will soon see that it’s less complicated and daunting than it first appears.

 

This video is an excerpt from our ‘Ableton Live 10 Lite Edition’ comprehensive course for beginners. To watch the full course and get the project files head to our courses page.