Jesse Harlin Puts A Little Of The Old World In His 'Mafia: Definitive Edition' Soundtrack

Oct 9, 2020

screenshot from Mafia: Definitive Edition
Credit Hangar 13, 2K Games Xbox Achievements

The turf war between the Morello and Salieri crime families in the 1930s has been brought stunningly back to life in Mafia: Definitive Edition by Hangar 13 and 2K. Composer Jesse Harlin incorporated a whisper of the game's original theme, then expanded his soundtrack to reflect the Old World history of the two mafia dons as well as the younger generation of the characters, including taxi-driver Tommy Angelo, who gets pulled into working for the families.

Because Don Salieri and Don Morello had settled in America from the Old World, Jesse incorporated some unexpected instruments to reflect their heritage: a mandolin and a traditional Eastern European cimbalom.

Jesse told me that the COVID-19 pandemic threw a spanner into recording the last few cues of the soundtrack. Since large orchestras were not allowed to perform, Hangar 13's audio director Matt Bauer came up with a painstaiking way of recording players of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra a few at a time and layering their performances to make an orchestra.

Hangar 13 gave some of the characters larger roles in the Definitive Edition, including Tommy's sweetheart, Sarah. Jesse created music for her with a cooler, jazzy style to differentiate her character from others in the game. 

Jesse says one of the most satisfying experiences of working on this soundtrack was finishing a particularly challenging cue. That experience continues to give him confidence with other challenges as they have come up since finishing the score.

Episode tracklist: 

All tracks composed by Jesse Harlin; performed by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mafia: Definitive Edition: Nothin' We Couldn't Handle; As Good A Place As Any to Start; Smarting Over the Dog; Sarah; What's the Rumpus; Our Business Has Rules; A Bit of a Situation; Under New Stars

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Thanks to Dick Roberts for production assistance and Kelly Wilson, Defiant PR