Parting Moments

All souls depart. Some leave alone, some are carried across. Moment by moment, the oscillation between hope and inevitability, fight and acceptance. Finally, the release. Pain and victory.

Dedicated to the memory of loved ones not yet gone.

  1. Sudden Inevitability
  2. Carry the Dying
  3. Moment I: Gather Here
  4. Moment II: Hope, Hopeless
  5. Moment III: Deteriorate
  6. Moment IV: Farewells
  7. Moment V: Acceptance
  8. Moment VI: Final Light
  9. Drift Away on the Sea

This was a hard piece to write once I established the subject matter. Death isn't easy to address. There's some hope in it, a release from pain and struggle, but those it leaves behind carry the pain and despair. Don't force the hand.

The parts were synthesized by three instruments using a single patch each. The electric-piano-sounding chimes are a custom patch on the JX-3P that had a warm strike and a semirandom LFO on the filter to add a warbling, spiritual air to the decays. The D-50 provided the cathedral pipe organ. The electric organ came from the SC-55. Each of these patches had different character and timbres between high and low registers, and that helped round out the instrumentation with a bit of multifunctionality. The chimes and cathedral organ were recorded to MIDI, two-handed, at the same time; I find this method helpful for the genesis of song material that I can then rearrange and clean up. The electric organ was added later to lend some crying soul and intensity to the strong parts.

The most difficult task was making the mix and testing the master on multiple playback systems. I learned that it's critical to make your bass (anything lower than 150Hz) monophonic so it can be heard on 3-piece audio systems where the subwoofer sums both channels. This is called mono-compatibility. I had to re-record each of the three parts in mono and insert a lowpass filter on the mono and a high-pass filter on the original stereo at or near 150Hz. The bass returned. This also tightened the bass on most of my playback test setups.

I also learned how to use a multiband compressor somewhat properly, and learned that Sonar has EQ already built into the channel strips, eliminating my need to insert them into the effects bin. An amp simulator after a noise gate on an effects send bus can be effective in injecting some air into a part during its intense moments of volume, which is what I did with the electric organ.

Finally, I went against my loose anti-volume-war ethics and added some gain and compression on the master bus in order to add some strength to the mix and raise the average volume closer to the peaks. The high cost of my puritanical ethics would've forced my mix to be too quiet for most people, requiring them to boost their volume to listen, and then blast their ears when they moved to the next track. I had no choice but to do it. Shame. I really like dynamic range.

It's been a helluva week working on this, and my ears are fatigued. I hope you can appreciate the effort.

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