A solid understanding of Ableton Live’s basic principles will help you fully exploit this DAW’s potential for your music making as well as live performance:
1. The Browser
Live’s browser is where you will load up and sample any audio files you might have on your computer, be it in Ableton’s stock library of sounds (which you should receive with your purchase) or any musical files you have stored on your computer’s hard drive. The browser allows you to easily navigate, sample and drag any sound into your live set.
The browser is also where you will find Ableton live packs, presets, devices or third-party plugins which you have manually added.
2. Live Sets
The type of document that you will create and work in is called a Live Set.
Live Sets reside in Live a Project – a folder that collects related materials – and can be accessed either through the File menu’s Open command or Live’s browser.
3. Arrangement and Session view
A Live Set consists of 2 environments, ie. Session view & Arrangement view:
The Session view contains basic building blocks called “clips”.
A clip can be anything which you decide to record into the session view ie. drum patterns, melodies, a bassline or a complete song.
The beauty of the session view is that you can record and combine and alter different clips to create larger musical structures from them like, songs, scores, remixes, Dj sets or stage shows.
The Arrangement is a layout of clips along a musical timeline.
The Session is a real-time orientated “launching base” for clips. Every session clip has its own play button that allows launching the clip at any time and in any order.
Each clips behaviour upon launch can be precisely specified through a number of settings.
You can toggle between arrangement and session views via the buttons on the top right corner of the screen.
Your arrangement will be recorded in real-time as you launch each clip or scene within the Session View (A scene is merely a horizontal group of clips which can be launched at the same time)
Thus your workflow can very easily be cut in half, as well as free you up for experimentation, knowing you can switch between ideas as you feel inspired and record them into your arrangement, as and when you feel.
The Arrangement view and the Session view interact in useful ways. One can, for instance, improvise with Session clips and record a log of the improvisation into the Arrangement for further refinement. This works because the arrangement and Session are connected via the tracks .
I understand that this is a lot of information for your first Ableton Live Lesson. My aim is to excite you enough into using this platform for a level of musical production that encourages live performance as well as composition.
Ableton live is a way for you to freely express your musical ideas as and when you are inspired and frees you up from using your mouse completely.
In our next lesson we will talk more about how tracks connect the Arrangement and Session view as well as Audio tracks vs Midi tracks.
I hope you enjoyed this lesson
Here’s to making music easy….