“Producing an Album” Abstract

When thinking about music we often consider final products – that new album that everyone is talking about or a stellar live performance by a band on television. However, it is astounding how much work goes into a piece of music before it is released. As a longtime singer-songwriter, I am tasked with considering the process of music, rather than simply examining the fruit of that process. In “Producing An Album,” I will purchase and familiarize myself with ProTools, a type of professional recording software, before applying this knowledge to record and mix my own songs into an extended play (EP) record. I will work with Grammy-Award winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer in order to hone my performance and production skills and sit in for artist sessions at Jim Robeson’s professional recording studio to gain insight into the recording process at large. In my research I hope to answer the question “What different techniques are used by master musicians to express themselves most clearly when switching between live performance and recorded music?” My project is not only about coming up with a final set of tracks; it’s about honing my skills in recording and the art and science of music production.

My objectives for “Producing an Album” are to learn how to use ProTools, to gain experience in recording and mixing music, and to create a finished EP to share with interested research monitors and audiences. I will complete an extensive “home-study” of ProTools before I meet with my mentors or get into the studio to actually record anything, and, while there is not a clear way to quantitatively produce “data” for my project, the qualitative data points abound in plenty. My level of ProTools knowledge (which is currently hovering around zero), the existence of an EP, and my comfort with a studio recording atmosphere are all qualitative data points that I will evaluate.