This request was originally posted in the Push discussion forum, but I've reposted it here as it is not a Push-specific suggestion (thanks to panten for the heads-up). I've also mentioned the Push controller a lot below, but this issue affects all grid controllers with limited real estate, and also users with small/lo-res laptop screens.
In Session mode, Live currently allows the user to see 8x adjacent tracks and 8x adjacent scenes on the Push controller at any one time, and this is matched by the red ring in the software.
Ableton have considered projects containing many tracks, by providing the arrow buttons and the Shift modifier to navigate around tracks/scenes outside the visible grid.
A user that knows their project well, will know how best to use the navigation controls to jump to the part of the project they want to control.
However, Push also makes it very easy to add new tracks to an existing project.
When new tracks are added, the existing tracks are moved over to make room for the inserted tracks, with the result that existing tracks are no longer where they used to be.
This can be confusing for the user and make it difficult to locate 'important' tracks during a live performance. 'Important' tracks would vary per user and might contain a MIDI track that contains an instrument used to play melodic themes over a live mix, a recording track that resamples the mix, or a set of FX/'noise burst' tracks that are used to randomly trigger audio clips.
To make navigation of large projects easier, especially in a live context, I'd find it really useful if one or more tracks could be permanently displayed on the controller, separate to the 'focus' of the red ring.
This would be similar to the 'Freeze column' feature in a Google Drive Spreadsheet.
For 'simplicity', and to follow the Google Drive model, it would make sense to require the frozen columns to be adjacent, effectively splitting the red ring into two zones,
- zone 1 / fixed to tracks 1->2
- zone 2 / banking the next 6 tracks via the usual navigation controls
- zone 1 / fixed to tracks 1->4
- zone 2 / banking the next 4 tracks via the usual navigation controls
- zone 1 / fixed to tracks 1->6
- zone 2 / banking the next 2 tracks via the usual navigation controls
This setting could also be saveable as part of the 'Default preset' for tracks - add new tracks to the frozen zone if there is space, otherwise add to the bankable zone.
This feature could potentially be extended to scenes as well ('Freeze row').
Panoramica. Lush Downbeat.
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MacBook Pro 2011 (2 GHz, 8 GB RAM) + OS X 10.8.3
Ableton Standard 9 + Push
NI Maschine Mk1