New Song: "If Only In Our Minds"

Ed Driscoll

Friend of Leo's
Aug 19, 2003
South of Dallas

"If Only In Our Minds" was a song I began in August of 2015, and was the second to last song I wrote when I was still living in Milpitas, before moving to Texas the following year. Writing and recording it was the summation of everything I had learned in my 15 years of recording on various DAWs, after recording on a cassette four-track in the 1980s. The drums and percussion are various Sony Acid loops. The stand-up bass, piano, Fairlight pad, clarinet, cellos, and backing vocals are all Propellerhead Reason samples. The song was built around two chord sequences I had been practicing at the time (usually after midnight, with Rumpole of the Bailey on the Acorn Roku app usually in the background), a somewhat convoluted verse sequence in C, and a descending chorus progression in D. I also wrote a bridge for the song in A minor, once I had begun to record the song.

Because my den in Milpitas wasn’t acoustically treated, when I recorded the song in 2015, I used various Roland VG-88 and VG-99 modeled guitars played through a Roland-Ready Strat. In the summer of 2022, I tried to process these with various impulse-response modeled acoustic guitar patches, but they still sounded awfully digital, fake, and compared with real acoustic guitars, quite nasty.

So starting on Saturday December 10th, I bit the bullet, and relearned the changes I played back in 2015, and began to replace all of the Roland guitar parts with guitars I rerecorded in my project studio. I ran the main 2015 rhythm guitar part through Melodyne to see the chords, and as I deciphered what I was doing back in 2015, typed the chord names into Melodyne, so that when recording the acoustic guitars, with my back to the desk, I could see the changes via the Splashtop PC remote control app on the iPad.

The guitars I added include my 2003 Gibson Music Machine Stinger Hummingbird (which I also used for the solo licks), my 2019 Taylor Nashville-tuned GS Mini acoustic guitar, both recorded into the Neumman U-67 mic reissue, Chandler's EMI Redd.47 mic pre, and Universal's 1176 fet compressor and LA-2A tube-based compressor. I used the same chain (with a few different settings) to re-record my vocals.

As for replacing the 2015 Roland VG-modeled electric guitars, I used my 1984 Fender R7 reissue Strat, and 2021 Squier Nashville-tuned Classic Vibe ‘60s Strat. The 1984 Strat was processed through my Nobels ODR-1 Overdrive Pedal into the Strymon Iridium, and the Nashville-tuned Squier went through the JHS Colourbox. Most of the guitars were then processed through various Eventide H9000 patches. On the last chorus, I duplicated the track with the Nashville-tuned Strat and raised it an octave higher using Melodyne.

My Roland rigs are now quiet old as digital technology goes. I haven't checked out more modern guitar modeling systems; it's possible that they completely nail the sound of acoustic guitars. But replacing the harsh digital-sounding acoustics from machines built over 15 years ago with the real thing, is to my ears, a huge improvement, and recording them was a fun way to spend a few weekends leading up to Christmas.