Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by barbarism » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:12 am

Are there any serious Live arrangement users here? If so, how many tracks? What are your day to day workflows like? What style of music?

I've been pushing really hard to use the arrangement view in v8 and I just keep running up against walls, again. I've been using Live on and off since v2 or so, primarily for session view, doing quick improve type stuff, playing around with combinations and I keep thinking: some day, some day arrangement will be mature and I can use it for _everything_, but then I record to arrangement, give it a shot agaub and I'm quickly frustrated and I shut it down and open up something else. Seems like every shiny new version I'm like: open box, install, session, session, session, ok, time for arrangement and well...hmmm....ok...well, session was fun.

I'm optimistic though. I keep thinking, next version, next version, the next version will be the one where I can really finish and do proper arrangements here. Been saying that for a lot of versions now. The problem is that Logic and the other big DAWs keep plowing ahead and I feel that Live's arrangement hasn't changed much. Now with Logic 9 I'm using Live less and less by the day. I'm actually using a combination of Live over Rewire and the IAC driver to record my sessions in Logic (ugh). Total pain considering the Rewire restrictions (no this, no that, no Max, no midi, ugh...) and timing issues but, it's better then nothing I guess.

Here are some of my gripes (in no particular order, some are obviously trivial but still annoying):

* The loop indicators (I just posted about this in the feature request forum) are just microscopic–tiny little notches. They are so small and hard to see that it makes day to day working really tiresome. Is that a loop start or a clip start or what is that? Oh, it's just a grid line. Maybe I need glasses.

* No takes and or take comping. Takes for both midi and audio! Sitting there in a loop doing a part over and over and then being able to at least pick A, B or C is just invaluable. The comping of portions of takes is just icing really. A, B, or C and I'd be happy.

* Referenced/aliased/pointer clips, whatever you want to call them. I think Logic calls them alias's. This is a real pain when editing midi in arrangement, I'll throw down a few bars of something, copy it out over verse 1, 2, 3 and then listen, work on something else, then want to change that loop, I'm forced to go back to the first clip, make the change, then manually copy and delete other clips, then fix my looping amounts, ugh. In Logic, I would just make an alias to the first clip, change the first clip and it changes everywhere, pure magic.

* That brings up another point, and this is something that I think should have been in Live way back in the early early versions. Referencing session clips from within the arrangement. Live's current behavior is a true recorder, it makes copies of everything. A lot of the time though I don't want copies, I want references/alias to actual session clips (this clip played for this long with these envelopes). That way I can simply change the session clip and have it propagate into the arrangement without having to rerecord, just hit play. Yeah, there are complexities like what if you change the length an so on. I guess really what this is not arrangement but _session recording_. I want to pick up my APC 40, press buttons and have it record the button presses, not the midi/audio data output of the clips themselves. I then want to go into "arrangement" and be able to rearrange the button presses, durations, envelopes, etc. [SESSION [A,1] 2 BARS, SESSION [A, 5] 4 BARS]. When I play the arrangement it is simply firing off the session clips exactly how I pressed them the first time. Does that make sense? I originally assumed that Live did this way back and was really disappointed that it didn't. I kept thinking, there is a way, alias recording, session reference record, it's there. Nope...

While I'm on a rant here, when in this mode, you would see your clips being fired in session, maybe with a special color (recorded trigger), and you could override them and or trigger alternatives. Example, you lay down your button presses, then you switch to session view and you can see all of that stuff being fired in play back. Now you can pick a column and override the clip that is currently playing on that column, then as soon as it reaches the clip switch point in the recording, it naturally switches to the next recorded clip. I guess you can kind of think of this as like really juiced up Follow Actions being fired from the arrangement, with you overriding from session.

* Clip fade in and fade out. Cross fade is now there but still no easy fade this clip in and out without using automation which means all of that complexity of moving automation with the clips as you rearrange. Having fade on clips is just easier too, fade tool, drag in style.

* Of course no curves, that's been beaten to death it seems. Yeah yeah, you can change your grid to something tiny and use the pencil. Fun...

* Negative time on the arrangement view. I swear that someone somewhere along the way had a trick to make Live do this but, I cannot for the life of me find it. I want negative 2 bars lead in on arrangements. Just like on every other DAW out there.

* Copy/drag paste audio from sample viewer to arrangement/session. You should be able to clip on any clip, have it load in the sample viewer, select a portion (yes, it does this, it turns yellow), but then drag it onto an arrangement track or session slot and have it create a new clip with loop braces positioned at the select marks. Right now you have to work in reverse. You see/hear some audio you like, oh oh oh, I love this tiny little bit here, select. Oh, wait, stop no no no. Now, copy the clip first, now open the newly copied clip, find that exact audio bit again, then select it, then hit COMMAND-L, ok, where was I??. It would be so much faster to be able to just take any selected audio and drag it on and boom, done, keep working. I know it works this way from within the arrangement directly, highlight portion of clip, drag clip header, new clip is created. Should be exactly the same from sample viewer to any other audio clip destination, track or session slot

* No pre-roll on the auto punch in. You cannot set a loop brace that is the outer loop (play loop) and an inner loop (punch loop) for punch in. 2 bars lead in, 2 bar punch, 2 bar lead out, loop and do it all over again. Having just the loop be the punch is so confining, especially for breaks or big changes. Like, here comes.....the chorus....and.... [PLAY PLAY PLAY] transition begin {LOOP}

* The clip start and stop points are really hard to see in arrangement. There is no outline or line at the start and end points that says, this is the end. Your eye has to look at the header and then use the grid line and follow it down. Even just a dark line.

* There are no boxes or background color differentiation to help clips stand out, like in most apps the clips have a complete background color plus they stand off a bit with shadowing. Live should have a 50% opacity background color of whatever clip header color you've chosen. This would help the clip stand out. This is especially true when you have many automation lanes open for a single track. If the background of the entire clip + its lanes were all a 50% color of the header or something along those lines, it would really help tighten it up visually and eliminate visual stress.

* You can't display a real mixer, like on the Session view, during Arrangement. You're forced to use the micro version. Yeah, tab over isn't that difficult but still, it would be nice to be able to flip over to arrangement and stay there, have the mixer docked at the bottom.

* Moving clips around that have automation gives really weird behavior, sometimes it carries it over, sometimes it adds new automation, sometimes it leaves the automation behind. Ugh, I cringe just thinking about moving automated clips.

* Not being able to detach the windows. I really like the modal interface for 90% of the work but, you know, when you're really deep into production with multiple monitors, you really want to be able to detach portions of the UI and have it go somewhere else. Like the session/mixer on mon 1 and arrangement on mon 2. That would be incredible.

* There are no keyboard shortcuts for simple things like MUTE/DEACTIVATE clip. Which reminds me, there are a lot of keyboard shortcuts missing. Where is the keyboard shortcut map?

* The automation line color is just terrible, it's like a pink/red and get's all mixed in with the wave forms and the background color. Seems like there is no way to change this, all color schemes keep it this color.

Besides my arrangement issues, Live is an amazing product and I want so badly to use it for 100% of my DAW time. The routing and busing in Live brings a tear to my eye every time I have to leave it and use anything else. Grouping tracks in a single clip and having it magically route everything! Route audio from one track to another without an intermediate bus, awesome. The midi effects in Live w/ Max integration are just amazing. Logic's "environment" is some sort of archaic relic from the Midiman days, powerful but archaic. Anyway, hopefully someone is listening.

The end...

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by bassistheplace » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:02 am

I do, along with pt8 (mostly for mixing/mastering) and fl9. Drum n Bass, 50-125 tracks, many buses/routings (like 15-20). If you want to set a count in try right-clicking the metronome button? You can also map your keys by pressing "key" in the upper-right hand corner.

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by Tarekith » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:19 am

I pretty much only use arrangement view in Live, unless I'm playing out or DJing.
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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by lolalola » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:05 am

I ONLY use arrangement view. Does that make me strange?! I don't DJ though, I use Live for recording my band's songs exclusively.

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by ChrisIhao » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:56 am

Far too long post to read atm as its waaay late here, but to answer the question I've only seriously used the arrangement view so far.

Its cool to play around with clips (and my launchpad) but I usually tend to go nowhere final in session mode. As I'm getting "old" I guess I wont be playing much live anymore so arrangement is the way to go :mrgreen:

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by timothyallan » Fri Aug 06, 2010 3:04 am

sketch in session, rest of the track in arrange...

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by leedsquietman » Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:50 am

Drum and bass with 50-120 tracks - wow. Most drum and bass you hear on Juno or Beatport are more like a dozen tracks or less and created mostly with sample CDs and loops ;)

Your dnb is more like an orchestral soundtrack production or very complex IDM. You should post some links, I'd be curious to hear a 120 track dnb track.

Protools LE/M-Powered only allows 48 tracks audio, so I'm guessing you either have the add on $400 music production toolkit, or access to a PTHD system? Live 7.0.18 SUITE, Cubase 5.5.2], Soundforge 9, Dell XPS M1530, 2.2 Ghz C2D, 4GB, Vista Ult SP2, legit plugins a plenty, Alesis IO14.

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by luddy » Fri Aug 06, 2010 5:07 am

barbarism wrote:Are there any serious Live arrangement users here? If so, how many tracks? What are your day to day workflows like? What style of music?
Day in and day out, maybe 20-30 tracks average per project, sometimes more in complex vocal arrangements.

Just a quick couple things: you can fade in and out individual clips using crossfades, there's just no "cross" to it. Enable fades and pull in on the handle, set the curve how you like it.

Aliased regions are a plague, haha, don't wish that crap upon us.

Using the IAC bus or the like along with MIDI mapping, you can very easily trigger session clips from the arrangement. Since the triggering can be quantized to start of bar, the IAC bus timing is no problem in this case.

Yeah, the binding of loop to punch-in/punch-out is a pain. Yeah, lack of decent take and comp features is a big deal compared to Logic's workflow. Yeah, the fact that there is no simple keystroke for MUTE and SPKR ON/OFF for the currently selected track is a bummer. In general, just as instant mapping gives you control over the currently selected track from a controller, it would be nice if (hello) the keyboard and mouse got a similarly nice treatment. :lol:

The moving of automation with clips in the arrangement view is absolutely predictable and consistent AFAIK. I use this all the time. If the lock icon is off, then copy/paste picks up the automation along with the audio. If on, then it leaves the automation alone. If you want just automation and no audio, there is a modified copy key command to copy the currently visible automation, but the easiest thing is to open up new lanes for what you want to copy and paste.


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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by mholloway » Fri Aug 06, 2010 5:34 am

Um, both? Or I should say: Both, of course! I create tons of sequences in Session, then "arrange" the track from start to finish in far as I know, that was the intention behind the dual-sequencer system. Not that "intention" matters, per se, but it certainly works for me. Session allows me to jam out all sorts of ideas and group them and mess with them and alter them, etc, until eventually the main pieces of a song are there, then I use Arrange View like a traditional DAW for actually building the finished song, adding vocals, adding some fills, extra samples, etc etc.....then the song is done.

it's a beautiful system, afaic!

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by DangerousDave » Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:37 am

I typically start a song in session, and then once I have a few things going i switch over to arrangement. For some reason I really like to lay out parts and be able to see where they lie on a timeline. ie, I might put in my choruses first, even if I dont have other parts of the song written, just so i can see where i am going and where i need to be. I probably work 90% in arranegment with 10-25 tracks.

That being said, you have a lot of REALLY valid points. I think a lot of your suggestions should be implemented, if at the very least, as options. (switching something in the preference folder for instance)
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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by 4.33 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:05 am

for me, live is for live only once i found reaper, which has everything OP lists, plus super easy routing, plus entirely customizable shortcuts, plus it's more stable and easier on cpu, plus... wait, i'd better shut up

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by leedsquietman » Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:14 am

Yes, I love Live but it's arrangement view is lacking compared to traditional linear DAWS. Hence I use Cubase (most of the time) and Reaper (if I do mobile recordings on my laptop as it's dongle-less) still for editing and mixing.

However, none of the rest have Session, and the 2 modes combined are what makes Live magic :) Building up tracks tape machine style is so old and cumbersome ... Live 7.0.18 SUITE, Cubase 5.5.2], Soundforge 9, Dell XPS M1530, 2.2 Ghz C2D, 4GB, Vista Ult SP2, legit plugins a plenty, Alesis IO14.

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by Machinesworking » Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:32 am

Another plug for Session View.
Arrangement is OK and has a few nice touches for moving bits around, but as an owner of DP and Logic, it's far less flexible than those two in linear sequencing ability.
I have no idea why anyone would use Live if all they wanted was a linear sequencer? No disrespect, but automation for one is far less flexible than Digital Performer or Logic, there are no folders like in Logic, or no Chunks like in DP, no SysEx, no Event editor, no comping or take folders, audio editing is eh? unique shall we say in Live. <-- that's just a short list, but IMO for linear editing and arranging Live is only OK, not great.
Live shines in it's Mixer and it's Session View. The audio and MIDI routing in Live is top tier, better than DP and Logic even, and Session View is IMO so much better than the traditional looping of a part in the arrangement for working on a part.

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by purpurkatten » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:44 am

lolalola wrote:I ONLY use arrangement view. Does that make me strange?! I don't DJ though, I use Live for recording my band's songs exclusively.

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Re: Anyone seriously use arrangement?

Post by jtdj » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:01 am

i use arrangment mainly when i'm recording or editing tracks, only really use session view for routing. Different story when i'm DJ'n; session view. Depends what you use Ableton for.

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