Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi interviewed
By Winter Is Coming on in Press, Production.

Ramin DjawadiAfter 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!

Check out the full interview over at The Hollywood Reporter.

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.


52 Comments

  1. Eddward
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Hodor!

    I agree, the music is first rate and really adds to the show. Interesting to learn what goes into composing it.

  2. Jen
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Hodor?

    I adore Theon’s theme <3

  3. Nick_Scryer
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Love his music, the ending theme to ep4 was AMAZING.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zmRenhciOY

    Can’t wait to hear what he has in store for the rest of the season.

  4. Family, Duty, Hodor
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Theon’s baptism is one of the best scenes in the show imo, and it’s mainly down to the music:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOAZYjTJ1Ms

  5. Omar Brown
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    This man is one of the best Tv composers, not to mention created one of the most iconic Tv theme songs ever, the fact he has gotten so very few recognition bugs me. Lets hope HBO pays him well instead!

  6. zombiecow
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Man. I’d go to a Ramin Djawadi’s Game of Thrones Concert in a heartbeat. It’s only a matter of time.

  7. Yago
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    He’s done superb work. The music’s really great.

  8. Hear Me Roar
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Huge props, maximum respect, hats off, and all the rest. I admire and enjoy Djawadi’s work immensely!

  9. jkb
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    where’s my season 3 soundtrack damnit

  10. Clob
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. Yeah, before the series began I just hoped it wouldn’t be cheesy. After it started I quickly loved all of it and how much it adds to scenes.

    Ever since I saw Django Unchained now I can’t not think of that movie when I see Djawadi’s name. :/

  11. Hear Me Roar
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    If you have missed this video, watch it!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eylN-wBvLfE

  12. b1narys3rf
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I was mainly approving but not ecstatic about the GoT music Djawadi composed.

    Then I actually heard it outside of the show.

    Wow. I gained so much more appreciation for it. It’s truly quality stuff. Of course there are themes and sections I may prefer to others, but overall D&D are absolutely right when they say over and over about how lucky they were to get such a great musical craftsman on their show.

    And it seems the deeper into the show we get, the better the music gets too!

    Kudos Mr. Djawadi. I look forward to much more.

  13. Mimsy
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I find myself looking forward to Ramin’s music as much as GOT. I just know he’s going to nail the scene with a musical emotion. Love. the. music!

  14. Richard
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    can’t wait for the Season 3 CD soundtrack, it usually shows up about a week or so after the last episode.

  15. thisone
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Ramin is amazing.

  16. Joshua Taylor
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Take a pinch of Poledouris, a dollop of John Barry and blend with Zimmer-esque synth and you have the complex tapestry that is Ramin’s GoT score.

  17. Impi
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    We have an “Honor” theme and a “Conspiracy” theme when they’re trying to conspire against each other

    So I totally read that as we have a Hodor theme….and I sat here trying to remember what the Hodor theme sounded like….

  18. Crozyr
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Impi,

    This is exactly what happened to me and I was just about to comment on it here :D
    I now demand an official Hodor theme!

  19. coronaking
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Richard:
    can’t wait for the Season 3 CD soundtrack, it usually shows up about a week or so after the last episode.

    Does somebody remember when the track listing for the season 2 soundtrack was shown first? It was before “Blackwater” but I don’t know the exact date. I’d like to know when we can expect news in the season 3 soundtrack!

  20. StannisTheMan
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Impi:
    We have an “Honor” theme and a “Conspiracy” theme when they’re trying to conspire against each other

    So I totally read that as we have a Hodor theme….and I sat here trying to remember what the Hodor theme sounded like….

    We totally need a Hodor theme!

  21. JC
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    I was pretty meh on Djawadi’s work on the show but I’m more on board with him now then before. I thought some of the stuff in the pilot was pretty rough (I hated the generic-sounding in-your-face horror cue in the first scene as well as the procession theme) but he’s improved greatly – the season finale theme in Season 1 was terrific, the cue in the final scene of the episode that just aired was great, as was the aforementioned Theon baptism cue. I do wish he wrote a few more themes for the show though, cause I feel like they rely on the same few themes (with variants) a lot. I know that’s the nature of a show but they only have ten episodes a season anyway and Jeff Beal, for example, created a much wider tapestry of music for Carnivale in each of its seasons, with far stronger themes.

    I guess I’m positive on Djawadi overall but I don’t think he’ll ever be one of my favourite composers. His sound is just a bit too generic for me. Or maybe I’m just spoiled from Michael Giacchino’s work on Lost and Jeff Beal’s work on Carnivale (and more recently, the House of Cards theme – amazing).

  22. Nerd
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    The first sentence in this article is spot on. I was aware of Ramin before, but the music in that final scene was so outstanding it motivated me to do a Google search and Wiki page read through.

  23. Mike Chair
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    The Main Theme is epic in itself, but when he mixes it in with the Daenerys stuff like in “Mother of Dragons”, WOW. I love that track. It starts slow — almost like a jungle beat. The drums are tribal-like. Next, pieces of the Main Theme start to work in, overlapping the jungle beat. I could almost hear a dragon in there somewhere. Then, a choir. Finally, the choir IS the Main Theme and people are toast.

  24. David Thomas
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    I am a really, really, really shallow person. I love the music, but all I wanted to do after reading the article was do a Google search on “Ramin Djawadi shirtless.”

  25. arden
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Favorite Ramin tracks are Goodbye Brother, Winterfell, Kill Them All and Warrior of Light. It’s lovely music can’t wait for the season 3 soundtrack

  26. Nagga's Kin
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    For some reason, I had imagined Ramin Djawadi as a serious older Indian gentleman with a white beard. Dead wrong, obvs! That’s what you get for not googling people.

    As for the score, I think the ruckus about the Hold Steady’s rendition of the Bear and the Maiden Fair over the end credits of ep 303 underlined how the music is just as important to the overall atmosphere of the show as the locations, sets and costumes. People always refer to TV as a visual medium, but it’s really an audiovisual one.

    In addition, the sheer number of variations on the show’s intro theme out there on YouTube illustrates how well the original is crafted. To be honest, it took me the first couple of episodes in season 1 to warm to it but I couldn’t imagine GoT with any other soundtrack now. In its own way, it’s already as memorable as those of classic TV shows, e.g. Hawaii Five-O and Bonanza.

  27. Lightning Lord
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    My personal favorite track is “I Will Keep You Safe” from season 2.

  28. Seriano
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Joshua Taylor,

    When I heard the music in the end of the last episode, the first thing that came to my mind was Hans Zimmer. That background chanting reminded me of the music he composed for The Dark Knight Rises.

  29. Joshua Taylor
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Seriano,

    Yeah for sure. The Dracarys scene music was total Basil Poledouris for me though. If you’ve heard the Conan soundtracks he composed you will know what I mean. Regarding Zimmer, the choral crescendo utilized in the “Imagine the Fire” on DKR would have been perfect season 3 trailer music.

  30. Team Sansa
    Posted April 25, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Umm… am I really the first person on here to mention that he is … hot? I mean, the music is great and all, but dang…

  31. Croccifixio
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    now i do think his music is great but the opening credits theme grew on me after a couple of episodes. i wasnt impressed on my first watch or maybe i was too busy mesmerized by the map of westeros.

    i don’t know if he scored everything but the first time i appreciated the score of thrones was in the ending credits of Baelor and that final scene of the first season, the birth of dragons. lots of praises were directed to the score of the Dracarys scene last episode but i do have to concur the sentiments of others regarding that Theon rebaptism scene in What is Dead May Never Die. that score was really great. the best for me since the scene wasnt as awesome as Dracarys nor was it as emotional ned’s execution but the scene became so much powerful because of that score and gave that scene the impression that this is important and that things will be different because of this simple act.

  32. Greyjoy Servant
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    “What is dead may never die” is his best one, hands down.

  33. HouseLark
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    Up there with Bear McCreary as the best soundtrack composers around (based on recent work)

  34. John-Michael
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    He actually looks a little like Ramin Karimloo lol.

  35. Andy
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    I had to read that section three times before I realised it said Honor theme, not Hodor theme.

  36. Anthony Jones
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    Preach on! The man is really fit and has a gorgeous smile (always a major killer in my case)

  37. GerB40
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    The Dornish music is gonna be brilliant, i can feel it…

  38. Lexyvil
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    It’s about time that he gets to be interviewed. There is no other show openings that make me want to sit through it all without skipping it, all because of the epic song that supports it.

  39. Bro without Banner
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    Very good score to the series, he does amazing work. Its haunting when it needs to be and hits all the other emotional notes perfectly.

    I loved Stannis’ theme in Blackwater as well as many of the others that people have stated already, Simple deeply layered minor chords but perfect and got my friends who are non-readers really behind Stannis.

    And as a bonus none of the book purists can complain about his work!!!

  40. csasil
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    You know … I don’t think I’ve even noticed the score while watching the show!… is that a compliment or a criticism?

  41. Merin_b
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    The music is brilliant! Gives me chills while watching GoT.

  42. coronaking
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    I really think a Musical Recap after every episode would be cool. Just somebody with good hearing who can really spot old and new themes and write something about it. It’s such an important part of the show but most of the themes are only recognized when they appear on the soundtrack.

    My favorites are the epic Daenerys themes (“Fire and Blood”, “Finale”, “Mother of Dragons”), “What is Dead May Never Die”, the awesome “The Throne is Mine” and the main theme of course.

  43. Poledolorous
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    What struck me first about the soundtrack was that although Djawadi doesn’t do huge hummable melodic themes for every character (a la John Williams), he was very quickly able to establish an instantly recognizable soundscape for the major locations. North of the Wall you get the ambient sounds with the bells, and you immediately learn to connect that sound with North of the Wall. Essos sounds different than Westeros. So the music has definitely helped the storytelling of the show, quickly cutting from one storyline to another, by giving the audience audio guidance to where we are at any given moment. With very simple, subtle touches Djawadi has been able to make that work.

    My personal favorites so far have been the North of the Wall sequences from the very beginning of season 1, the hauntingly beautiful melodic cello theme for Winterfell in Seasons 1 and 2, and – the House of the Undying. Now, I know many people here weren’t exactly thrilled by that sequence in general, but just go back and listen to the MUSIC in that scene: again, a touching melody telling of Dany’s emotional longing for a family, yet at the same time mainting a disorienting feeling of other-worldness, of magic and mystery and something not being quite right. Beautifully done.

    And indeed – can enough be said of the main title theme? It’s really impressive, especially remembering what was said about the music in season 1, that Djawadi was a last-minute hire who had to produce the initial music very, very quickly. And out of those circumstances he was able to come up with a theme that’s surely on its way to become a tv classic? Wow.

  44. telobsidion
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Andy:
    I had to read that section three times before I realised it said Honor theme, not Hodor theme.

    (HO dor hodor HO dor hodor HO dor hodor HO dor hodor)

    HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO doooooooooooor HODOR HOOOOOOOOOOOdoooooooooooor

    hododooooooooooooooooooooooooooor

    (dor hodor HO dor hodor Ho dor hodor HO dor hodor)

    HOOOOOOOOOOOOO doooooooooooooor HODOR HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOdoooor

    hododoooooooooooooooooooooooooooor

    I am so sorry.

  45. Matt Chung
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    JC:
    I guess I’m positive on Djawadi overall but I don’t think he’ll ever be one of my favourite composers. His sound is just a bit too generic for me. Or maybe I’m just spoiled from Michael Giacchino’s work on Lost and Jeff Beal’s work on Carnivale (and more recently, the House of Cards theme – amazing).

    To be fair, the guy was given less than 10 weeks to put together a score for 10 hours worth of television. And yes, we have all been spoiled by Lost’s music. I doubt there will be anything of its calibre on television for a long time.

    David Thomas:
    I am a really, really, really shallow person. I love the music, but all I wanted to do after reading the article was do a Google search on “Ramin Djawadi shirtless.”

    Team Sansa:
    Umm… amI really the first person on here to mention that he is … hot?I mean, the music is great and all, but dang…

    These two summarise exactly what I was thinking! Thank god I’m not alone.

  46. Team Sansa
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Matt Chung,

    Phew… first off, I thought I was the only gay guy on this discussion board. It seems like there is a little crew of us. Does Ramin know that he is a “fan favorite?” :)

  47. QueenOfThorns
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Team Sansa,

    Lol I was waiting for someone else to say something…

    Seriano: When I heard the music in the end of the last episode, the first thing that came to my mind was Hans Zimmer.

    IIRC, Ramin “trained” with Zimmer. So its not surprising their style shares many similarities.

  48. 3eyes
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Ustad!

  49. Nubaa
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    The music during Dany’s scene in ep 4 was, of course, epic. But one thing that might be less obvious was during the mutiny at Craster’s keep. As Sam and Gilly are running out into the night, the music takes a really ominous turn. It’s chilling and I love the foreshadowing of whats to come…

  50. loco73
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    My favourite pick for composer remains Bear McCreary! I feel that he was an opportunity lost. Furthermore I would have also enjoyed Jeff Beal, who is no stranger to HBO, having worked on both the “Carnivale” and “ROME” soundtracks, or Harry Gregson-Williams who more than proved himself with the masterfull soundtrack for “Kingdom Of Heaven” amongst others.

    But Ramin Djawadi has done a fantastic job for GoT and is now part of the ASOIF fanily. I wish him good luck and continued success!

  51. Tricipitinus
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    I’d like them to use one of Sigur Ros songs as credits song in a Night’s Watch centered episode, like this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUysiCX-XZQ

  52. Matt
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I gotta say his updated Khaleesi theme at the end of Ep4 was significantly EPIC.


  • Recent Comments

  • Archives

    • 2014 (750)
    • 2013 (679)
    • 2012 (550)
    • 2011 (512)
    • 2010 (309)
    • 2009 (174)
    • 2008 (47)
  •