(Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images)
Composer Ramin Djawadi is preparing to take the music of Game of Thrones on the road with the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience. He recently sat down with NPR to talk about the inspirations behind not only his work on Game of Thrones, but other hit shows he’s composed for, like Westworld. According to Djawadi, it was 1960’s The Magnificient Seven that inspired him to become a film and television show composer.
You would turn the movie off and those melodies would stick with you. It’s something I love about movie scores — that when you leave the theater you can still hum the themes and relive the movie without even watching it. It’s just the music that lives on its own.
You can listen to the full seven-minute interview below.
Throughout his career, Djawadi has scored such shows as Prison Break, Person of Interest, The Strain, Westworld, and of course Game of Thrones. His film work includes some very popular films such as Iron Man, Clash of the Titans, Pacific Rim, and Warcraft. He’s also scored video games like Gears of War 4, and Medal of Honor.
Turning to Game of Thrones specifically, Djawadi said that he, by necessity, sometimes composes songs without having seen any footage. Where does he get the ideas if he hasn’t seen anything?
Many times it’s just based on a conversation with the director or the producer. Or I read the script, or watch it — if I have some rough cut in front of me, I’ll watch it once. But then I just let it run in the background and start writing.
In the beginning, the ideas came from discussions with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss about their vision for the show, sonically and otherwise. “One thing we always laughed about was that they said, ‘We don’t want any flutes,'” he said. “Just because, stylistically, it was something that we felt was used in the genre before, and we wanted our score to be different.”
Good call. (Although he admits that he’s snuck in flutes on occasion.) Instead, they decided to make liberal use of the cello, due to its range and dark sound.
Djawadi also mentions that ideas for songs can hit him in the oddest of times, and he’ll just start humming what came to mind into his cell phone.
[S]ometimes I whistle. The main title theme for Game Of Thrones, for example, I was humming in my car after I saw the visuals. As I was driving back to the studio, I had the idea to the theme.
And the rest is history.