How did composer Mark Benis give a believably ‘horrible’ performance?

Lamplight City, the steampunk-style detective-adventure game from Grundislav Games, is out today and music label Materia Collective has announced that the soundtrack is also available from a variety of outlets.

Composed by Mark Benis, the soundtrack comprises 41 tracks and interestingly, Benis had to arrange a particular song a couple of ways in order to convey an in-game character’s lack of practice at the piece, as well as to serve as the game’s ending theme.

The old English drinking song, “Down Among the Dead Men,” can be heard when players visit a cathedral in-game. When they encounter ‘Singin’ Tom’ the church’s choir director, he can be heard playing a choral arrangement of the song. The problem is he hasn’t been practising it much.

“Frankly he’s terrible at it,” explained Benis. “As the composer I had to figure out a way to create a believably horrible performance so I did it the only way I know how: I played the chorale myself. I stayed up until 2am, took off my glasses, and sight-read it hunched over my MIDI keyboard months after I had first written it. It’s the worst performance that I’ve ever given, but in context maybe it’s my best? On the album you hear the piece after Singin’ Tom practices quite a bit, but in the game… get your ears ready.”

The Lamplight City original game soundtrack is available now from Bandcamp, iTunes/Apple Music, and Spotify.