After watching Sunday’s episode, especially that ending, you may have taken on a new appreciation for Ramin Djawadi and his musical score. The Hollywood Reporter recently had a chance to interview Djawadi about his work on Game of Thrones. It is a good read. Here is a bit where he talks about the various themes and how he develops them:
THR: Does each character have their own theme?
Djawadi: One of the first things we discussed was: How can we make this score cohesive without trying to capture every character too on the nose, because they overlap so much? We have a Stark theme, but we did not introduce the Lannister theme until the second season with “The Rains of Castamere” song, with lyrics based on the book. Theon [Alfie Allen] had no theme in the first season, but in the second we decided, OK now it’s time he gets his own theme. Now in the third season, we have so many themes established, we can do lighter or darker versions. We have an “Honor” theme and a “Conspiracy” theme when they’re trying to conspire against each other. For the fire lady Melisandre [Carice van Houten] it’s almost like a hybrid of a string instrument with some kind of — not really a flute. You can’t put your finger on it and say what that sound is.
THR: How do you develop the themes?
Djawadi: I like to fall into the story and just dream about what it is, and it leads me to create music that puts me in the place. The synthesizers don’t jump out at you, but they really work well. I literally play each instrument on the keyboard — the timpani, then I go back to the beginning and play the string line, and then the piano. I layer all these tracks one after the other. There are various synthesizers, you tweak the knobs and modify the sound of it, let them become part of the sound palette I create. At the beginning of each project I like to create a palette of sound for that particular project. And the producers get used to it — they’ll say, “This should be Theon’s scene, and north of the Wall we should have glassy sound and have the bells come back.” I get to be a big kid, I can make stuff up all day. It’s fun!
Winter Is Coming: Prior to Thrones airing, I admit I was indifferent on the music. I figured it wouldn’t really matter much what they did with the score as long as it provided a bit of background to some of the scenes. But I’ve really grown to appreciate what Djawadi’s score brings to the series and now I can’t imagine the show without it.