Game of Thrones composer talks writing music for House of the Dragon

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 26: Ramin Djawadi attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 26: Ramin Djawadi attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy) /

Composer Ramin Djawadi has written music for stuff like Westworld and Pacific Rim, but he remains best known for Game of Thrones. If you’ve ever hummed the opening theme to the show, you owe something to Mr. Djawadi.

Naturally, the opening theme is one of Djawadi’s favorite tracks he wrote for the show, but there are other contenders. “[W]ithin the show, I think ‘Light of the Seven’ is one I definitely enjoy, and that’s also one where I actually play an instrument myself. That’s where I play the piano and the organ. I’m behind an instrument, so that is a different hat for me then, at that moment. So that, I kind of enjoy, because I can also see the audience a little bit better because I can kind of look out, whereas when I’m conducting, I just have my back to the audience most of the time. So that’s a fun one to perform.”

“Light of the Seven” is the track that plays when Cersei Lannister destroys the Sept of Baelor in the season 6 finale, “The Winds of Winter.” As for playing an instrument himself, Djwadi is talking about the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, a concert highlighting music from the series. Djawadi has toured with the concert several times, and it’s coming back for one night only tomorrow at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. (Get tickets here.)

Ramin Djawadi brings back the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience for one night only!

Djawadi is also working on the Game of Thrones prequel show House of the Dragon, which is currently filming its second season. “Yeah, it was definitely an interesting but, of course, exciting experience because we always said the DNA needs to be the same, it needs to be connected, but it’s all new characters, the plots, obviously, it’s a prequel. So it’s way before our Game of Thrones setting, and so how do we connect things, and how do we do new things but stay kind of within the same sound of Game of Thrones?” he said. “The story really kind of guided me on that, like whenever we talk about things that can connect to later in the future, then we would use original themes. Also, the Targaryen theme, or the dragon theme, was set up so I could use those, but otherwise, I want to say 95% of it is all new material that I had to write. So it was almost, I wouldn’t say starting over, but definitely, thematically, I started from scratch.”

"Sonically, I really wanted it to connect so that the cello is still the main instrument because I just feel like it’s so fitting for this show, and so that alone, already, I feel connects it really well. So there were sonic elements that I would draw from, but then also, it includes new instruments – if there even are any that I haven’t used because there were so many. But there were actually some woodwind instruments that I did not use at all in Game of Thrones that I implemented in House of the Dragon."

Music is usually written towards the end of production on a new season of TV, and since season 2 of House of the Dragon hasn’t been filming long, it’ll be a while before Djawadi gets working on new compositions. In the meanwhile, he’s as excited to see what comes next as any of us.

“I’m just so intrigued by the story,” Djawadi said. “And I have to admit, I did not read the books, so every season I would always think, ‘Wow, this ended so epic, how can we even expand it from here? Where can this go from here?’ And then every season it would elevate it even more and more. So I was just always blown away by the character development, and that’s really what pushed me into developing the score the way it would expand, and [it’s the] same with House of the Dragon. I’m very curious to see what’s next in the second season. Obviously, there was such a great cliffhanger in the first one, so it’s very exciting to see what they come up with next.”

As are we all.

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