Summary of Research – “Producing an Album”

Here we are. It is almost the end of the summer, and I have been plugging away at ProTools for about three months now. The progress that I have made is tangible. When I first purchased the recording software after I came home from school, it took me about an hour to figure out how to record a simple track. My perspective on my initial struggles and tribulations can be found in my first blog post, “Initial Research and Some Faltering First Steps.” After diving farther into my books and online video tutorials I became increasingly comfortable, and when I worked in person with my lovely music mentor Cathy Fink for a long weekend, most of my ProTools knowledge was cemented and/or enhanced. Cathy not only filled in the gaps in my understanding of the music software, but she also taught me tricks of the trade and manual professional recording techniques that have been priceless in my progression as a recorder and producer of music. My days with Cathy were summarized in my second blog post of the summer entitled “Finding My Stride.” After working with Cathy, I was left to my own devices to practice, record, edit, and master the rest of my tracks for my Extended Play record. The greatest lessons that I learned throughout this process were mainly related to the subjectivity of what makes a “good” recording and the necessity of dogged practice in order to make the most efficient use of one’s time the recording studio. It doesn’t matter how much reverb an artist prefers on a track if they make constant fingerpicking errors. No amount of editing can mask mistakes, and it is extremely easy for the trained ear to tell when a musician attempts to cover up an error they didn’t want to go back and fix.

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Finding My Stride – “Producing an Album”

The progress I’ve made in familiarizing myself with ProTools and mastering my own tracks since my last blog post (published a few weeks ago) has been a revelation. While I have done some more video review and reading about ProTools tips and tricks, recording and mixing songs with Cathy Fink, my long-time music mentor and friend, has been the most helpful exercise in my learning process this summer. This past week I spent two days at Cathy’s house in Silver Spring, Maryland immersed in ProTools and the software’s many intricacies. During this time, Cathy taught me everything from basic practical tips (how to change the tempo of a click track), to keyboard shortcuts and tricks (shortcuts with the “option” key), to advanced mixing and physical recording strategies that have made working with ProTools not only manageable, but fun. Taking a rough draft of one of my original songs, “Wall Street Flower,” and turning it into a detailed piece was nothing short of an educational journey. From recording all the way through to the mixing process, Cathy coaxed me into seeing the many benefits of a more complicated recording software. A general list of things she assisted me with can be found below, with more concrete examples in parentheses. [Read more…]