Editorial Featured Game of Thrones Ramin Djawadi

Small Council: What’s the best piece of music from Game of Thrones?

Ramin Djawadi is currently touring the country with the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, so we thought it’d be a good time to discuss his work on the show. Which of his many compositions do you find more memorable? Most stirring, nail-biting, joyful, etc? Read our takes, tell us yours, and vote in the poll!

DAN: It’s hard to overstate Ramin Djawadi’s contributions to the success of Game of Thrones. Obviously, there’s more to the show than its music, but when you hear the words “Game of Thrones,” one of the first things you think of is the percussive opening theme. DUH-duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH-duh-duh-duh-DUH-duh…Djawadi’s music is part of the show’s DNA, and it’s impossible to imagine Game of Thrones without it.

Djawadi has written a lot of stand-out pieces over the years. I still get chills when I hear “Dracarys” and think back on Daenerys sacking Astapor, and I love the eerie tone set by pieces like “House of Black and White.” Djawadi manages to strike a difficult balance, writing music that’s memorable but doesn’t overpower what’s happening on screen. His music complements the show, rather than stealing it.

My favorite melody of Djawadi’s, or at least the one most guaranteed to get me emotional, is “Goodbye Brother,” first played in “The Kingsroad” when Jon Snow and Ned Stark bid farewell to their family. Like many of Djawadi’s pieces for the show, “Goodbye Brother” is repurposed and reworked for lots of other scenes. For all intents and purposes, this song is the Stark family theme. It crops up whenever one of the Stark children is having a significant moment, from that first parting in season 1 all the way to “The Winds of Winter,” when Sansa tells Jon Snow that winter has come.

That means that, by this point, I associate “Goodbye Brother” with pain, change, and the hard-won wisdom gained by the Stark children after seasons of suffering. For me, the song is inextricably bound up with their struggles, and they’ve struggled a LOT. No wonder it’s an emotional trigger.

Slow and plaintive, the song is beautiful on its own, too. Djawadi incorporates the cello into a lot of his compositions — it has a dark, rich sound that’s a perfect fit for the show, and a perfect fit for this theme.

COREY: This is an incredibly hard decision to make. I will go a step further than Dan and say that after George R.R. Martin, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Ramin Djawadi is one of the most important people to the success of Game of Thrones. His scores are downright legendary. I have a playlist entirely composed of Djawadi’s work.

As a soundtrack junkie, what Dan said about Djawadi’s music is spot on; it adds to the scenes without overpowering what we see. Right now, as I listen to his playlist on my phone, I can recall each scene that accompanies the music.

Choosing a favorite piece by Djawadi music is like asking me to choose my favorite child. But if I was forced to choose one or wrestle Drogon, I suppose I would have to choose “Dance of Dragons,” from the season 5 episode of the same name. I may not always be the biggest fan of Daenerys’ storyline, but her music is usually downright stunning. From like “Dracarys” to “Dance of Dragons,” there is an underlying tone to Djawadi’s pieces for Daenerys that elicit an eerie power. It fits the Targaryen mystique perfectly.

“Dance of Dragons” almost always makes the hair on my arms stand on end. From the moment those thudding drums kick in and the arrival of a pissed-off fire-breathing dragon, my heart is pumping. When the music slows down for Dany and Drogon’s tender moment, it’s hard to imagine anyone not being touched. Thanks for melting my ice cold heart, Djawadi.

Before the piece ends, Djawadi manages to get your heart racing with an evocation of the love between a mother and her child, and finally, brings the awe and wonder of seeing a woman flying across the sky. That’s a lot of emotions in just over three minutes of music. That’s why Djawadi is one of the most important facets to the success of Game of Thrones.

RAZOR: It’s hard for me to pinpoint my absolute favorite musical piece from the six seasons of Game of Thrones. Composer Ramin Djwadi has masterfully created musical artwork that has taken on a life of its own throughout each season, enriching the story and helping to bring George R.R. Martin’s literary works to the television screen. If I had to choose one song that has struck a deeply personal chord with me, making it my favorite Game of Thrones piece of music, I would have to agree with Dan and say “Goodbye Brother” from the season 1 soundtrack would be it.

The track first played during Game of Thrones season 1, episode 2, “The Kingsroad,” when Jon Snow says goodbye to his half-brother, Robb. The scene marks the last time Jon and Robb would see each other, as Jon heads for his post at the Wall, and eventually, Robb would call his father’s banners and march toward King’s Landing. As you know, Robb is later betrayed and murdered at the Red Wedding. The reason this song means so much to me is I had to say goodbye to my own brother a few months before this episode first aired in 2011.

My brother and I shared an abiding love for literature, and when he was diagnosed with cancer, his love of fantasy literature, in particular, helped him get through some rough times during his treatments. After many years of battling cancer, he passed away, and during those final days, I sat by his bedside and read different passages from A Song of Ice and Fire to him. One of those passages — from A Game of Thrones — plays out exactly as it did on screen, with Jon telling Robb goodbye for the last time:

Robb: “Next time I see you, you’ll be all in black.”

Jon: “It was always my color.”

Robb: “Farewell, Snow.”

Jon: “And you, Stark.”

I’ve always loved the Starks, as well as the Stark theme music created by Ramin Djwadi. I think the strong family bond the Starks share is why I love them so much, and it’s pieces of music like this that take me back to a time when my own brother was still with me.

If you’re having trouble remembering all the wonderful tracks from Game of Thrones, here’s a quick primer from seasons one through six.

A note on the poll: It was hard to decide which tracks to include on the poll since so many are variations on or combinations of other, earlier tracks. We erred on the side of caution and included a lot of choices. You can choose up to three.

26 Comments

  • Enjoyed the music as a backdrop seasons 1 through 4. Was more into the story. However, finale of season 4 changed all that. “The Children” killed me. Arya on the boat with the choir singing, still makes my eyes burn as I force back tears whenever I listen to it. Allowed me to go back through the music of 1-4 and appreciate it properly. As a result, an even more satisfying, emotional and well rounded watch of seasons 5-6.
    Razor, so sorry to hear the personal story with your brother. While “the children” got me more focused on the music, “goodbye brother” is now by far my favorite. (for similar reasons as you). Connects to me personally. Kills me every time.
    Great subject Folks.

  • What was the Battle Of the Bastards score named? Is it on list.?? The music during the transition from baby jon to adult jon at the Tower Of Joy gave me chills

  • You’d probably need a sample track by each music selection in order to do justice to this poll. But, for me, “Light of the Seven” really stands out as being the best because, first, the arrangement and style is such a strong break from Djawadi’s other compositions for GoT that I can’t help but notice it much more than the other music in the series if only because of it’s uniqueness. Second, Light of the Seven really carries the scene in a way that we haven’t seen before. It’s almost like the music itself becomes the lead actor in a scene where really there’s not a lot of dialogue. The music from Light of the Seven is so important and so well integrated that if I just listen to the music I can visualize everything that’s happening on screen from beginning to end. Powerful stuff!

  • “Winter has come” is one of my favourites, it was not on the list! i’ts so beautiful that i litetally cry everytime i hear it haha

  • This was a hard choice!

    I so LOVE the last part of “let’s play a game” when Jon faces the charging cavalry!
    Goodbye brother … It makes me wanna cry.. So beautiful
    The Tower should’ve been on the list.
    Light of the Seven was awesome too, Winds of Winter… Too hard to choose!

    But the main theme is always gonna be a winner too!❤️👑

  • This was impossible to answer as it’s impossible to decide which I love more as so many of them stand out as fantastic. I miss that Baratheon music from season 1 and of course the opening credits are what hooked so many in to begin with but when I trimmed it down I asked myself which scenes do I tend to rewatch and look forward to the most because of the music and I turned to dance of dragons because it’s one of the few things I think that I preferred the shows version over the books version and you really felt the bond between Dany and drogon in that scene and I don’t think you’d feel that without the music. Second I chose light of the seven because it is by far the best song and probably the most epic so far and I think probably caught everyone off guard when the episode started but reeled it in. I remember going on YouTube the next day and you just kept watching the views counter go up and up into the millions. Third I chose winds of winter as its one of the songs i listen to most but I could have gone with hear me roar which I think captured cersei’s decent into madness and rise to power perfectly or the children which I felt like was the first song that made me choke up and of course the reigns of castamere with vocals or without is epic. So many, so hard, I hate this question.

  • Game of Thrones looks so heavy metal, but story wise the more classical sound fits. I wanted “Back in Black” to accompany Jons resurrection and the scenes he is re introduced to the Nights Watch, but it just doesn’t match the scenes somberness. Maybe someday!

      • Back in black
        I hit the sack
        I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
        Yes, I’m let loose
        From the noose
        That’s kept me hanging about
        I’ve been looking at the sky
        ‘Cause it’s gettin’ me high
        Forget the hearse ’cause I never die
        I got nine lives
        Cat’s eyes
        Abusin’ every one of them and running wild
        ‘Cause I’m back
        Yes, I’m back in black

  • I think the track called Finale from the season 1 soundtrack is one of the very best. Plays out during the last couple of minutes of the finale.
    Apart from that Winterfell theme and The Children.
    So hard to choose.

  • And I also loved that music for.the Hound’s reintroduction scene. It was so fresh, happy, unlike GoT. Beautiful. I don’t think it was on the season 6 soundtrack.

  • I know Light of the Seven will win by a wide margin. I was in love with that song when it came out. But my first love was Goodbye Brother. All the Stark fans have to vote for this one.
    In the end, we the fans are so spoiled by the work of Djawadi. And just remember, the first time Dave and Dan asked Djawadi to GOT, he said no as he had another project. But then, by the grace of the Gods, old and new, he was freed up and was able to be part of the greatest show in history. And tonight in Toronto Canada, I get to see the live concert celebrating the works of Djawadi.
    I’ll be in full Stark armor as well. I’ll be revealing it for the first time. I’ll send Dan some pics to post!
    Tim of House Stark

  • The rains of castamere for sure. It is one of the few fully composed songs with lyrics that are both foreboding and highly evocative…. it serves as a warning to houses that dare threaten the lannister dynasty but also is presented in a range of contexts from bragging in a brothel to the deeply sad and haunting version at the purple wedding, which turns the song on its head and forshadows what is to come.

  • Jon and Ygritte’s love song, “You Know Nothing,” is a beautiful, emotional piece of music. Hearing it live really moved me.

  • It’s hard to pick only three! I’m missing the season 1 score “You’ll be a queen someday”. Though the scene is not my favorite in terms of Sansa being swayed by Joffrey, the music is absolutely beautiful and it’s a shame they only used it as a variation in Tommen’s storyline. Now I expect it will be gone from the show altogether though it might be a nice background music for potential Arya and Gendry’s reunion.

  • I am a sucker for ” Dracarys”. There, I said it.
    Fandom has been divided into factions, some think that Jon is the hero and Dany will die as Nissa Nissa. Others that Sansa will become Queen…
    I say otherwise. Dany and Tyrion are the ones given extremely memorable moments in the books, that translated into amazingly crafted TV show scenes.
    “Dracarys” gives me goosebumps to this day.

  • Light of the seven. It was beautifully chilling. I was watching the whole scene on the edge of my seat the whole time. No scene in television history was the music so fitting. I could watch that scene a hundred times and still get the same nervous excitement but without the haunting music it wouldn’t be the same.

  • Only yesterday I watched D&D’s commentary on S1E1 and they mentioned that someone recommended Djawadi, who was busy. But they tried and tried and finally landed him. And they were stunned about how much he contributed. And that was after only 1 season!

    I too am a soundtrack junkie. The Main Title music is iconic and recognised all over the world, so I have to choose that. It should be a given, like Shakespeare and the Bible are given to guests on Desert Island discs so they can pick another book. The Stark theme (Goodbye Brother and its many iterations) is so haunting, and Rains of Castamere isn’t far behind. I wish someone would write lyrics to the former. I also like Arya’s hammer dulcimer music for The Pointy End/Needle, which sometimes gets combined with the HOB&W music. I much prefer Chaos is a Ladder (or as I call it, “Littlefinger making trouble again”) to the wimpy harp of Joffrey being nice to Sansa. And someone mentioned The Children’s finale cue–love it. But after the Main Title, nothing compares to Light of the Seven. It was almost another character, a witness of all that was happening in that opening montage to S6E10. IMO it was worthy of being featured in an Oscar-winning score.

  • I can’t choose only one song so I picked five:
    1: Light of the Seven
    2: A Lannister always pays his debts
    3: Goodbye brother
    4: Breaker of Chains
    5: Dance of Dragons

  • Love the Main Title and of course Light of the Seven (as well as a few others from Season 6) but the one that really and still hits me hard is The Kingsroad from S1E1. Scene where Ned and Jon say good bye, unknowingly forever when Ned promised to tell Jon about his mother the next time the see each other. The scene and the music together hits me hard. The first time you see the scene it
    doesn’t really register but afterwards it really gets you because they will never see each other again.

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