The goal of “In Mary’s Arms” was to put the listener at the “foot of the cross” in Jerusalem, in a cinematic style. This piece features solo duduk (a double reed instrument from Armenia, and in this case, a virtual one), and strings by the FAMES orchestra in Macedonia, recorded remotely through a video conference.

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The second track on my SoundCloud Playlist is “In Mary’s Arms” by Donna Cori Gibson.

“In Mary’s Arms” is from Donna’s CD, The Way of the Cross.  In my blog about her song “She Was There,” I presented some background information and details about the CD.  “In Mary’s Arms” is about the thirteenth station, where Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross.  This may be Donna’s most moving song ever.

The instruments in the final arrangement include:

  • Synthesizer Drone & Wind
  • Armenian Duduk
  • String Orchestra (12 First Violins, 10 Second Violins, 8 Violas, 6 Cellos, 4 Basses)
  • Cymbal

The first minute of the recording functions as kind of a dramatic prelude to the song, setting the scene.  The goal was to put the listener at the “foot of the cross” in Jerusalem.  The music I created here sounds like movie music.

The low synthesizer drone is simply one note sustaining and was created using 2 sounds from Spectrasonic’s Atmosphere.  If you listen you will also hear some wind sound effects.

The exotic solo instrument featured in the opening prelude playing over the drone is a double reed instrument from Armenia called a duduk:

The sound of the duduk, if not the instrument itself, has become known to a large audience through its use in popular film soundtracks. Starting with Peter Gabriel‘s score for Martin Scorsese‘s The Last Temptation of Christ, the duduk’s archaic and mournful sound has been employed in a variety of genres to depict such moods.

The duduk sound I used is from a wonderful collection of world and ethnic sounds included in the virtual instrument, East West Quantum Leap Ra.

As the drone fades out, the basses from the orchestra fade in.  At this point when the strings start, we are now hearing the introduction to the actual song. The introduction features some musical phrases from Donna’s song.  Like on Andrea Bocelli’s song “Time to Say Goodbye,” there are pizzicato (plucked) strings on the chorus.  I used counterpoint and harmonic tension in the strings throughout to enhance the drama…  The FAMES orchestra did a beautiful job performing this arrangement.

The cymbal swells that help transition the sections were performed by Dave Anthony and were recorded in my studio while he was here doing drum tracks on 3 other songs for the CD.

For more info about Donna and her music, please visit her website: Donna Cori Gibson


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