Initial Research and Some Faltering First Steps – “Producing an Album”

I never thought that my research was going to be easy. However, I did think that I could get the hang of the recording software I was using by watching a couple instructional videos and flipping through the pages of the books my music teacher loaned me. I thought the majority of my research would be done in the studio, honing my performance techniques and strategies to fit my audience and purpose. However, when I began to install and play around with ProTools, I realized that post-production would be the least of my worries this summer. I first learned that Avid, the company who licenses music software like Sibelius and ProTools, is extremely cautious about security. I even had to run to Guitar Center to purchase a third-party USB which held important authorization codes for ProTools. Then, when I went into my basement studio to experiment a little bit with my new recording apparatus, it took me a long time to figure out basic tasks such as adding a track and recording one track over another. The controls for ProTools are vastly different than Logic and GarageBand, the software I am already familiar with. However, this is just an added bonus! Learning ProTools will allow me to communicate on a higher level with fellow musicians and recording engineers, and I can’t wait to dive farther into my research. In order to surmount my current ignorance, I will be watching in-depth instructional videos about ProTools on and consulting my mentors in person about strategies that they use when they make use of the software. I think this project will lend itself to a healthy mix of both improvisation and structured learning to make discoveries about a new way to record and transmit my music.

“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.

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