There are at least 67 reasons why we as a species are obsessed with Game of Thrones, HBO’s fantasy hit that has fans simultaneously dying for Sunday’s premiere of the eighth and final season and dreading the inevitably bloody coup de grâce. Beyond the titillating inter-house intrigue, shocking deaths, and stellar acting, the show is also renowned for its phenomenal music.
The series has rightfully helped turn its 44-year-old composer, Ramin Djawadi, into a star, so much so that the German-Iranian maestro has taken his show on the road twice with the rollicking orchestral “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience” tour. He also took home his first Emmy last year for GoT.
During a stop at Yahoo’s Los Angeles studios, Djawadi told us how he conceived three of GoT‘s most celebrated songs: its iconic introduction; the Lannister theme, “The Rains of Castamere,” a haunting track that also became a key that something really horrible was about to happen; and “Light of the Seven,” the piano-driven theme to the shocking conclusion of Season 6. Watch the interview above, or read on for highlights:
“Game of Thrones Theme”
“I had seen the first two episodes and had actually already started working on them, so I had written already some of the other themes for the show. And then [series creators] David [Benioff] and Dan [D.B. Weiss] said, ‘Ramin, there’s also a really cool main title sequence that we would like you to take a look at, and we need a main title theme for this. … We had a conversation about it and talked about [how] it should really summarize the entire show: the mystery, the excitement, the adventure. The big keyword that they actually said to me was, ‘Make it feel like it’s a journey.’ … So that’s how I came up with that melody.”
“The Rains of Castamere”
“That particular piece actually is one of the few pieces I wrote without having any visuals or any episodes in front of me. This was between Season 1 and Season 2 when they were shooting. David and Dan called me up and said, ‘We need you to write a new theme, and it’s going to be based on lyrics [from] the book. So this melody needed to do all these things: work with the lyrics, and basically be a song, but have a tonality that can evoke the character of the Lannisters.”
“Light of the Seven”
“I wrote the piece on the piano. The piano had never been used before, there was no piano anywhere in the score; it was quite a departure. So we decided then to try it on different instruments. So I rearranged it for the harp, for example, and we listened to it that way. None of it felt right, and we listened to the piano version again, and we just then realized how fitting it actually is, and that it just has to be that. … The viewers immediately noticed, ‘This is different. This is something we’ve never heard before. What’s the piano doing?’”
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