The Canvas

Submitted by Ben on Fri, 09/21/2007 - 11:12

The largest and most important section of the editor window is the canvas. This is where all your recorded audio will go, and where you will spend most of your time moving, shaping and editing regions. The canvas, as you can see, is divided in columns by bar, beat, etc. It is also, as you will soon see, divided in rows by tracks.


Tracks are where your audio goes. Each track has one or more inputs which receive audio signals and one or more outputs which transmit audio signals. Before you can record or playback any sounds with Ardour, you'll need to add at least one new track.

Tracks have controls, which appear in the track list to the left of the canvas. More information about tracks and track controls is presented in the chapter on tracks later.


Regions are how audio is arranged in your tracks. Each region corresponds to a single audio file, but one audio file may have many regions associated with it.

Figure 7: An example region

Regions are what you will do your editing and arranging with, so it pays to get to know them. See the chapter on editing later for more information

The Notebook

The notebook is the name for the collection of lists on the right side of the editor window. The notebook automatically "takes notes" on everything that you've done so far. Every region, track or bus, snapshot, group or chunk that you've created or used in a track will be represented in the notebook, even if it is not displayed in the mixer or canvas. The notebook is comprised of five tabs.

Figure 8: The notebook showing the region list

Region List

The region list shows all the regions associated with the session. By right-clicking a region in the list, you can hide, audition or remove a region. Removing a region does not destroy the recorded audio on your disk, though. You can also import external audio through the region list's context menu. More on importing is in the chapter on importing audio.

Tracks/Busses List

The tracks/busses list displays a list of all tracks and busses in your session. You can show or hide tracks or busses by clicking the check-boxes to the right of their names. You can also rearrange tracks in the canvas by dragging the track names in the track/bus list.

Snapshots List

If you make any snapshots of your session, they will appear in this list. Clicking on a snapshot will load it immediately. You can rename or delete snapshots as well, by right-clicking.

Edit Groups List

In the edit group list, you can see all the edit groups you've created. Edit groups work like selections in that you can use them to perform operations on multiple tracks at once. Edit groups are going to be phased out in upcoming versions of Ardour, to be replaced with something called "named selections".

Chunks List

Chunks are sections of a playlist that you define. For instance, you may create one chunk for the verse and another for the chorus. This allows you to edit your session on a grander scale with greater ease. Chunks contain regions and silence, and can optionally span multiple tracks. Chunks don't have a visual representation, they only appear in the chunks list.

Now it's time to get better acquainted with the mixer strip that we enabled earlier on by examining each of its components. If you have disabled the editor mixer, re-enable it now by pressing Shift-E.