Protools And Me (The Singer/Songwriter)

380_audio_gearFirst, let me provide a brief history of my experiences with recording studios…

When I was younger it was a big deal going into “The STUDIO” to record.

It represented: big bucks, a need for a great producer, lots of prep time for the band (making sure they were well rehearsed), and fresh material (my newest songs). I would plan for months in advance. Endless hours were spent on budgeting, re-budgeting, and planning out my session times in a meticulous manner.

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When my band would finally got into the studio, every single moment counted. It was "pricey", to say the least. On my first three song demo, I stayed within my budget: $3,000. Those were the '80s; and that was par for the course.

In those days, only the wealthy could afford to own a private recording studio.

Buying my own studio was, therefore, out of the question... but I stuck to the dream that one day I would have my own, and be able to record whatever I felt like, any time of the day or night.


Home Studio

When 1990 came I purchased my first home studio; a 4-track Tascam. In spite of all the accolades I would hear about in magazines regarding the "professional sounding" demos an artist could get from that machine, I was highly disappointed. Still, I had to admit, it was a great writer's tool. I was able to get up at 3 a.m., if an idea couldn't wait, and record it immediately.

I just wasn't able to use any of it for a pro song demo.


Home Pro Studio

Finally, two decades later, the home studio had it's day. When I first heard the results yielded by some of my friends Protools, Cubase and Logic demos, I was overwhelmed by the quality. YES! "Finally!" I thought. I am ready to create my own pro studio. I was right. When searching around and asking questions from my friends, I found that the system that resonated with me, the singer/songwriter, was Protools. I purchased the 7.7 Leopard version, along with my Mac OS X. Nowadays, the 9 versions are being used, by my good ol' 7.7 version still does the trick nicely; thank you very much!

Not being all that savvy with manuals, I also did the smart thing; I enrolled in a Protools course with a working, successful, music producer in British Columbia, Canada. The course was a cinch, and I took to it right away. It was well worth the $375. I paid for the five week program on working with the Protools system.

It's taken some months, but I can now go to my piano (a Yamaha P120S), lay down all the tracks, then place as many vocals over it as I would like with my special mic (a CM 12se; which sounds exactly like a Neumann U-86; but costs 1/6th of the price!) and the result is nothing short of MAGIC. Editing on Protools is a dream. Creating loops?

You can do it in your sleep. You can have any instrument you desire on your song, through the midi process, of course.

In the past I used only live musicians in the large recording studios. For my present CD productions I do half of my work in a live studio, with live musicians, then go back to my home studio where I lay down my own tracks over the big studio tracks at my leisure.

This way, if I don't like my piano playing or vocals on a particular day, I can keep trying on my own time; with no pressure from engineers, musicians, or budgeting to worry about!

I was even able to include a friend's vocals from across the country. I sent him a rough mp3.

He laid down a vocal track, sent it back to me as a .wav file, and I incorporated his vocal into my song. It sounds fabulous.

I then take the final versions to my local recording producer, mix and master the puppy right then and there.



My very first CD (in 1989) cost me $11,500. to make. My latest CD (2011) cost me $2,100. to make. Feeling that difference?

In looking back, the studio cost me over $6,000. Back in the 80's such a high quality studio would've run around $150, 000. How times change!!

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About Cheryl Hodge

Cheryl_Hodge_2_300Cheryl Hodge has been in the music and songwriting business for well over 30 years; recording on several labels; among them Atco Records (Raindogs, 1990), and has released 4 CDs of her own; on her own label: Records.

She has performed her music for the last 10 years with noted jazz guitarist John Stowell (amongst many others), and they are about to release a CD of co-written originals. She has been private instructor to many; including the gifted Paula Cole. She is also the author of "A Singer's Guide to the Well-Trained and Powerful Voice", and is a published vocal arranger.

Cheryl is currently the head of the vocal dept. at Nelson, BC's: Selkirk College Music Program. There, she teaches Songwriting and Advanced Songwriting, Business of Music, Arranging and Vocals.

She continues to write and produce her original materials, and has just released "Cheryl Hodge: Original Article" - a compilation of her favourites.

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