Ableton Live Tutorial: Recording from Session View into Arrangement View

Edit: Updated. Valid for Live 8 to 11.

Session View is great for getting down loop based ideas or when performing live. Arrangement View, on the other hand, is best used for the production of songs along a traditional musical timeline. It can be handy to start in Session View to come up with the initial idea for a new song. At a certain point you will want to get the parts into Arrangement View. Exporting the whole song only works from the Arrangement View. You can copy and paste all clips, but this can be tedious, especially the more clips and tracks you have. The good news is, you can also record from Session into Arrangement View.

  1. To toggle between the two views, use the Tab key on your computer keyboard or click on the button for the respective view in the top right corner of Live.
    View buttons
  2. To record from Session to Arrangement View the tracks don’t need to be armed. In fact, they shouldn’t be as otherwise you might accidentally overwrite what you had previously recorded into the clips.
  3. Turn on the Global Record button (up to Live 8)/Arrangement Record button (from Live 9).
    Global Record/Arrangement Record
  4. Make sure you’re in Session View. Now you can launch Clips and Scenes in the order you want them played in your song.
    Launched Clips
  5. Once you’re done, hit the Spacebar. This will stop recording and playback.
  6. Use the Tab key to switch to Arrangement View which will now contain your recording. This includes:
    • the clips launched
    • changes of the mixer and the devices’ controls which is called automation
    • tempo and time signature changes, if they are included in the names of launched scenes

To be able to listen to what you recorded in Arrangement View, you need to click on the Back-to-Arrangement button. Then hit the Spacebar for play.

Quick tip:

You can record further automations in the same way. From Live 9 on, first make sure that Automation Arm is turn on (the little ‘handcuffs” icon on top) and if it’s a MIDI track, also the MIDI Arrangement Overdub (the plus icon next to the Global Record/Arrangement Record). Turn on Global Record/Arrangement Record, hit Play and start tweaking parameters either with the mouse or even better with MIDI controllers. Only Clips and Scenes don’t need to be launched anymore, unless you want to make changes there as well.

Commments of any sort are welcome. Do you have any further questions? Requests for a tutorial on something you struggle with in Live? Or something to add? Let me know.

There are plenty more Ableton Live tutorials where this one came from.

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9 responses

  1. Hallo Madeleine,

    ich nehme von einem Hardware Sequencer (Yamaha RM1x) im Arrangement View auf. Bisher kopiere ich dann Stück für Stück die aufgenommenen Spuren in den Session view um Clips zu erzeugen. Gibt es da einen einfacheren Weg?
    Ich würde zB einfach gerne definieren, dass ich zwei takte aufnehmen will, Sequencer und Live synchron starten und auf einen Durchlauf zB alle Drumspuren als Clips haben um sie dann mit Lives instrumenten abzuspielen.

    Vielen Dank und Grüße,


    1. Ja, gibt es in Live 9. Ich werd einfach das nächste Videotutorial dazu machen. Die Synchronität müsstest Du durch Probieren einstellen, Sequencer eventuell zum MIDI Clock senden nehmen. Und das Abspielen der Clips mit Live’s Instrumenten geht nicht. Mit Max for Live könnte man das erreichen.

      Edit: Bin mir nicht sicher, ob ich Dich richtig verstanden hab. Nimmst Du MIDI oder Audio auf?

  2. much of the above terms do not mean anything to a complete beginner like myself.
    they are terms which will only make sense to people who already know these terms, which, if they do know these terms, then i guess they will already know everything you are showing them here.
    so who is this tutorial for?

    being a beginner, i am keeping my use of ableton as simple as possible.

    i do not know how to add clips and drag them around in arrangement view yet.
    BUT i have finally learned how to record from an audio deice (caustic3) into an ableton audio track in stereo, and add 2 desired EQ deices from within ableton to the track, and now simply need to export that track WITH those EQ settings audible in the exported WAV file.

    i tried last night, but only the orignal unmixed track exported, and NOT the EQ settings that i thought would also transfer into the finished export.

    to be honest i have not seen one single tutorial that has been at all helpful to me, and Ableton is TOO expensive a tool to learn on in this case.
    so at the moment, although i can see it is a very professional tool, i am not convinced it is for me yet, and may not move onto full ableton live 9, if i cant progress with simple things on Lite.

    thank you most kindly, paul womble dung

    1. This is a tutorial for beginners who already have managed to record into the Session View (the view you see when you first open Live) and have an understanding of the basic terms. If the export didn’t contain the EQ settings, you either didn’t add the EQ on the track with the recorded audio or the EQ was turned off.

      If you’re looking for helpful tutorial, have a look at my Ableton Live 9 Essentials video course. It guides you step by step through all the stages of working with Live. From getting to know the elements in Live, so you know what they’re called, all the way to exporting your finished track or song. It’s not free, but it will save you a lot of time and trouble googling and guessing.

  3. p.s. sorry about my faulty keyboard. the “V” key is 50/50 in working… so the word “device” comes out as “deice” when i am not careful

  4. But Instruments played “live” (like a guitar or vocals) still have to get recorded the “traditional” way in Arrangement View right?

    Is there a way to keep these “played instruments”-tracks locked to armed, even when exclusive armed is enabled and/or with “-EnableArmOnSelection” in options.txt? If need be, with the help of a M4L-device?

    That would be so useful for jamming along with “traditional” musicians….

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