Featured Interview Ramin Djawadi

Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi on the most difficult songs to write

The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience kicks off tonight in Minneapolis, and will tour throughout North America for a month and a half. Thrones and Westworld composer Ramin Djawadi will headline the event, traveling with a full orchestra, a 20-piece choir, a traveling vocalist, and a flautist who, at one point, will play “a wildling horn that is 12 feet long.”

The stage will change into an actual representation of the Wall – it will feel like the stage has become the Wall. While you hear the music and see the footage, the concert really makes you feel like you’re there.

That’s according to an interview Djawadi gave with HBO’s Making Game of Thrones blog. He also chatted more generally about his songwriting process for the show, which starts with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss outlining the themes for the coming season. “Then we watch the episodes together and walk through them scene by scene. I start writing, and after a couple of weeks I play Dan and David every single piece I’ve written. We discuss and tweak.”


Some highlights:

  • Djawadi names “Light of the Seven” and music for “Battle of the Bastards” as being tricky to write, but the moment he most feared scoring was the scene from season 5’s “The Dance of Dragons” where Stannis burned his daughter Shireen at the stake. “I could not get through that scene. I had to stop and step back. It was so emotional to me. It was tough.”
  • Djawadi is very specific about the kind of instruments he associates with different characters. “The White Walkers have that mysterious, icy sound from a glass harmonica. Then the cello and violin for the Starks and the Lannisters. The Dothraki have the duduk – an Armenian ethnic wood wind instrument. Arya also has such a unique sound. I use what’s called a hammered dulcimer. It’s a kind of fun, plucky sound – very distinctive.”
  • His favorite song is probably “The Rains of Castamere,” the Lannister family anthem.

Expect a remix of that song on the tour. “I’m hoping that we’ll have some guest artists appear and sing the song in various cities.”

Daenerys’ theme, meanwhile, has gone on a journey over the years. “In the first couple of episodes, it really plays on a couple of instruments on top of the Dothraki music. It’s almost like it doesn’t have its own identity yet. It sets itself apart during the finale of Season 1 when the dragon eggs hatch. It plays as big as it gets with a big choir and drums; it’s just really powerful. Now I always use that instrumentation with the dragons when they attack. I always play with her theme to make it feel like it’s expanding.”

You can see more of Djawadi on this appearance on CBS News, where he discusses his work on Westworld.

Break a leg on tour, everybody!


    • Just be happy you live in Australia. Such a beautiful world down there!
      We’re spoiled in Canada too.
      I have tickets for March 3rd in Toronto. I’m taking my 70 year old mom who loves Game of Thrones and The Song of Ice and Fire.

  • Did anyone even go to the premiere show in Minneapolis last night?? I’m really surprised that I haven’t found any kind of official reviews whatsoever. I’m going this coming Sunday, and am curious about some of the details (i.e. how long it is, etc).

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