Music of Game of Thrones

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Ramin Djawadi is the composer of the Game of Thrones score.

The music for the fantasy TV series Game of Thrones is composed by Ramin Djawadi and published by Varèse Sarabande for the first two seasons and WaterTower Music onwards. The soundtrack is instrumental and features one major theme, the Main Title, which accompanies the series' title sequence.

The music is noted for its popular main theme, which has been covered many times, and for its use of decidedly non-medieval renditions of songs from the series's source novels by noted indie bands. These adaptations, according to Wired, create attention for the series in media that wouldn't normally cover it, but are also notable for their musical merits independent of the series.[1]

Themes[edit]

Main title[edit]

Sample of the Main Title, the series's musical theme tune, illustrating the melody played with cello and variations of the riff in strings

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Ramin Djawadi began composing the music for the show after he had watched the first two episodes of the series that the showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss sent him, and discussed the concepts of the show with them.[2] According to Djawadi, the show creators wanted the main title theme to be about a journey as there are many locations, characters in the show and involves much traveling. After Djawadi had seen the preliminary animated title sequence the visual effect artists were still working on, he was inspired to write the piece. Djawadi said he intended to capture the overall impression of the show with the theme tune.[3] Cello is featured strongly as Benioff and Weiss wanted to avoid the flutes or solo vocals found in many other productions in the fantasy genre so as to give the show a distinctive sound.[4]

Djawadi started with a riff and he built the title theme around the riff. The tune begins with the riff with strings played in a minor key, then changed to a major key after 2 bars, and back to minor again. Djawadi said that he wanted to reflect the "backstabbing and conspiracy" and the unpredictability of the show: "... I thought it would be cool to kinda do the same play with the music. So even though the majority of the piece is in minor, there's that little hint of major in there where it kinda switches and then it changes back again." The melody is then introduced with the cello, which Djawadi chose as the main instrument for the music as he thought it has a "darker sound" that suited the show. The cello would be joined later by a solo violin that may suggest an interplay between different characters. The melody is then repeated with the entire orchestra. The next section introduces a change in melody, described by Djawadi as giving "a sense of adventure", and continues with a repeat that involves a choir of twenty female voices. The title theme ends with a combination of dulcimer and kantele, producing a "shimmery quality" in its sound that Djawadi thought would give a sense of mystery and anticipation for the episode.[3]

The title music is reprised as a global theme in the soundtracks for the series. It may be played occasionally on its own in fragments, sometimes as part of the theme of individual characters or in combination with other pieces of music, and may also be played in large section during particularly important scenes.[4]

Houses and characters[edit]

Djawadi composed theme tunes for each of the major houses, and some of the characters also have their own themes that may be played in scenes involving them. The theme for House Stark is played on a cello, and most of the Stark characters only have variations on the same theme on cello. Arya Stark is the first of the house to have her own theme, first heard when she started her lesson on swordplay in episode three of season one, with the music featuring a dulcimer.[5] A new theme for Jon Snow, previously using only the House Stark theme, was created in the sixth season and featured in the episode "Battle of the Bastards". It was first heard at the end of episode three when he said "My watch is ended", signifying a shift in the character after he had been resurrected.[2] House Lannister has an associated song, "The Rains of Castamere". The song was played at the Red Wedding, but first heard when Tyrion Lannister whistled a small part in the first episode of the second season.[6]

The theme may evolve over time in the show. The theme for Daenerys Targaryen started small, but became grander when she became more powerful. Her theme may be played initially by a single instrument such as a processed cello, but later becoming more epic-sounding incorporating more instruments, including Japanese taiko-inspired drums, Indonesian bedug drums, and an Armenian duduk flute.[5] Syllables and words in Valyrian, a fictional language of "Game of Thrones", were also used in her theme music, although not as whole sentences.[2]

Different themes may also be combined in some scenes. For example in the finale of Season 6 with the shot of the armada at the end, at least five themes were combined – themes for Danaerys, Theon Greyjoy, the Unsullied, the dragons, and the main title.[5]

Season 1[edit]

Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones (soundtrack) cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by Ramin Djawadi
Released June 14, 2011 (2011-06-14)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 66:00
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Ramin Djawadi

Game of Thrones, the soundtrack album for the series' first season, was published in June 2011.

Production and release[edit]

The soundtrack to Game of Thrones was originally to be composed by Stephen Warbeck. On February 2, 2011, only ten weeks prior to the show's premiere, it was reported that Warbeck had left the project and Ramin Djawadi had been commissioned to write the music instead.[7] The music supervisor of Game Of Thrones Evyen Klean first suggested Djawadi to Benioff and Weiss as the replacement for Warbeck, and although Djawadi was reluctant as he had other commitments at that time, they managed to persuade Djawadi to accept the project.[8]

To give the series its own distinctive musical identity, according to Djawadi, the producers asked him not to use musical elements such as flutes or solo vocals that had already been successfully used by other major fantasy productions. He mentioned that a challenge in scoring the series was its reliance on dialogue and its sprawling cast: on several occasions already-scored music had to be omitted so as not to get in the way of dialogue.[4]

Djawadi said that he was inspired to write the main title music by an early version of the series's computer-animated title sequence. The theme would be repeated all through the series, particularly at important scenes.[4] Many of the recordings were done by solo musicians, while the larger pieces are recorded with a full orchestra and a choir in Prague. The recordings were done with Djawadi communicating with the musicians in Prague over the internet.[6]

The album was made available for download on iTunes on June 14, 2011, together with a "digital booklet". It was released on CD on June 28, 2011, 41 days after the show's premiere.

Reception[edit]

Richard Buxton of Tracksounds wrote an ambivalent review, calling the album a "valiant effort" and Djawadi's "most consistently satisfying work to date".[9]

Track listing[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2011) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[10] 157
US Soundtrack Albums (Billboard)[11] 17

Season 2[edit]

Game of Thrones: Season 2
Game of Thrones (season 2 soundtrack) cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by Ramin Djawadi
Released June 19, 2012 (2012-06-19)
Length 56:46
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Ramin Djawadi

The soundtrack album for the second season, titled Game of Thrones: Season 2, was published on June 19, 2012. The instrumental music by Ramin Djawadi was performed by the Czech Film Orchestra and Choir and recorded at the Rudolfinum concert hall in Prague.

"The Rains of Castamere"[edit]

A sample of The National's rendition of "The Rains of Castamere".

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The album contains a rendition of the song "The Rains of Castamere" by the indie rock band The National, sung by their vocalist Matt Berninger.[12] On the published tracklist, the title is spelled "The Rains of Castomere" rather than "Castamere" as in the novels. The spelling is corrected on the printed listing on the liner notes that come with the disc.[13] In the series, the song was played over the end credits of the ninth episode, "Blackwater". An instrumental version can be heard during Tyrion's speech right after King Joffrey abandons the battlefield in the same episode. Tyrion Lannister can be heard whistling the melody in some earlier episodes. In season 3, an instrumental version of "The Rains of Castamere" plays over the end credits in episode 7, "The Bear and the Maiden Fair".[14] In episode 9 of season 3, an instrumental version of "The Rains of Castamere" is played by the musicians at the Tully-Frey wedding. In Episode 2 of Season 4, the band Sigur Rós makes a cameo appearance as musicians playing this song at the wedding of Joffrey and Margaery. Joffrey stops them midway by throwing coins at them. Their version plays over the closing credits of this same episode.

The song's lyrics are taken from the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, in which "The Rains of Castamere" is sung or mentioned several times.[15] It remembers Tywin Lannister's victory over his rebellious vassals Reyne ("the Reynes of Castamere") and Tarbeck, about 40 years before the events of the novels. The stanza of the song that is reproduced in the novels and adapted for the series tells of the vassals' defiance – "And who are you, the proud lord said / That I must bow so low?" – and the subsequent obliteration of their houses: "But now the rains weep o'er his hall / With no one there to hear."

Reception[edit]

Tracksounds's review was again mixed, describing the score as little more than adequate. Noting a lack of thematic development or dramatic momentum, the reviewer nonetheless appreciated the score's more subdued moments which he considered less forced than the rest of the track.[16]

Track listing[edit]

Season 3[edit]

Game of Thrones: Season 3
Game of Thrones (season 3 soundtrack) cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by Ramin Djawadi
Released June 4, 2013 (2013-06-04)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 53:12
Label WaterTower Music
Producer Ramin Djawadi

The Season 3 soundtrack album was released digitally on June 4, 2013, and on CD on July 2, 2013.

"The Bear and the Maiden Fair"[edit]

The U.S. indie rock band The Hold Steady recorded "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", a folk song from Martin's novels, for season three. The recording is played over the end credits of episode three, and the song is sung in the same episode by Brienne's and Jaime's captors, which include musician Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol in a cameo appearance.[17] Set to music by series composer Ramin Djawadi and arranged by Tad Kubler, the recording was released on a seven-inch record on April 20, 2013.[18]

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" is a traditional song popular among people of all social classes throughout Westeros. It recounts the story of a bear, "All black and brown / And covered with hair", who traveled to a summer fair, and smelled "on the summer air ... The maid with honey / In her hair!" Although she vowed that she'll "never dance / With a hairy bear", he "lifted her high / Into the air", and "licked the honey / From her hair", until she "sighed and squealed / And kicked the air", eventually agreeing to go off with her "bear so fair".

Track listing[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[19] 139

Season 4[edit]

Game of Thrones: Season 4
Game of Thrones (soundtrack) album cover
Soundtrack album by Ramin Djawadi
Released June 10, 2014 (2014-06-10)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 60:38
Label WaterTower Music
Producer Ramin Djawadi

The Season 4 soundtrack album was released digitally on June 10, 2014, and on CD on July 1, 2014.

"The Rains of Castamere"[edit]

Season 4 of Game of Thrones saw the Icelandic band Sigur Rós perform their rendition of "The Rains of Castamere" in a cameo appearance at King Joffrey's wedding in the second episode, "The Lion and the Rose".[20]

Track listing[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[21] 150

Season 5[edit]

Game of Thrones: Season 5
Game of Thrones (season 5 soundtrack) cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by Ramin Djawadi
Released June 9, 2015 (2015-06-09)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 58:40
Label WaterTower Music
Producer Ramin Djawadi

The Season 5 soundtrack album was released digitally on June 9, 2015, and on CD on July 17, 2015.

Track listing[edit]

Season 6[edit]

Game of Thrones: Season 6
Game of Thrones (season 6 soundtrack) cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by Ramin Djawadi
Released June 24, 2016 (2016-06-24)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 90:25
Label WaterTower Music
Producer Ramin Djawadi

The Season 6 soundtrack was released digitally on June 24, 2016, and will be released on CD on July 29, 2016. The album reached No. 1 on the Billboard's Soundtracks chart,[22] and the track from the season finale "Light of the Seven" reached No. 1 on Billboard's Spotify Viral 50 chart.[23] The "Light of the Seven" is the first time piano is used in the music for Game of Throne.[2]

Track listing[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2016) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[24] 35
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[25] 33
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[26] 59
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[27] 57
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[28] 79
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[29] 92
French Albums (SNEP)[30] 121
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[31] 60
Irish Albums (IRMA)[32] 45
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[33] 44
Scottish Albums (OCC)[34] 44
UK Albums (OCC)[35] 68
UK Soundtrack Albums (OCC)[36] 2
US Billboard 200[37] 27
US Soundtrack Albums (Billboard)[38] 1
US Digital Albums (Billboard)[39] 5
US Top Album Sales (Billboard)[40] 12

Catch the Throne[edit]

Volume I[edit]

To help promote the series to a broader audience including multicultural urban youth, HBO commissioned an album of rap songs dedicated to Game of Thrones.[41] Entitled Catch the Throne, it was published for free on SoundCloud on March 7, 2014.[42]

No. Title Music Length
1. "Mother of Dragons"   Big Boi 2:09
2. "Iron Throne"   Magazeen 2:26
3. "Win or Die"   Bodega Bamz 2:21
4. "Magical Reality"   Kilo Kish 2:32
5. "Born to Rule"   Daddy Yankee 2:34
6. "Arya's Prayer"   Dominik Omega 3:20
7. "The Parallel"   Dee Goodz 3:12
8. "Fire"   Snow tha Product 1:54
9. "The Ladder"   Common 2:41
10. "King Slayer"   Wale 2:24

Volume II[edit]

A second volume of songs was released in March 2015, prior to the beginning of fifth season. This volume again consisted of songs from hip-hop artists, but this time also included contributions from several heavy metal bands.[43] It was released as a free download on iTunes and SoundCloud.[44]

No. Title Music Length
1. "The Oath"   Method Man 2:33
2. "Run for Cover"   MNDR 2:56
3. "Never Back Down"   Ty Dolla $ign 3:52
4. "Loyalty"   Killswitch Engage 4:07
5. "Surrender Now"   Kap G 2:52
6. "Fight Through It"   Melanie Fiona 3:07
7. "Lannister's Anthem"   Snoop Dogg 2:31
8. "Marcando Territorio"   Yandel 3:44
9. "Soror Irrumator"   Anthrax 5:30
10. "Let Me Go"   Estelle 2:24
11. "Lord of the Light"   Talib Kweli 2:55
12. "White Walker"   Mastodon 4:30
13. "Legends"   Raquel Sofia 3:23
14. "All Mine"   Stalley 3:58
15. "Among the Crows"   Mushroomhead 4:48

Cover versions and parodies[edit]

The main theme of Game of Thrones has inspired many tributes and cover versions.[45] Some of the cover and parody versions mentioned by news media include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Watercutter, Angela (April 15, 2013). "Why HBO Turned to Indie Bands for the Medieval Tunes of Game of Thrones". Wired. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Renfro, Kim (July 7, 2016). "Meet the musical genius behind the 'Game of Thrones' soundtrack who watches each season before anyone else". Tech Insider. 
  3. ^ a b Hrishikesh Hirway, Ramin Djawadi (June 11, 2015). "Here's Why 'Game of Thrones' Theme Song Is as Treacherous as Westeros". The Creators Project. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Composer Interview: Ramin Djawadi". Filmmusicmedia.com. December 22, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Vineyard, Jennifer. "Game of Thrones Composer Ramin Djawadi on the Show’s Key Musical Elements, and That Godfather-esque Finale Tune". Vulture. 
  6. ^ a b Mahoney, Lesley (September 20, 2013), "Behind the Scenes with Game of Thrones Composer Ramin Djawadi", Berklee 
  7. ^ Ryan, Maureen (February 2, 2011). "'Game of Thrones' Changes Its Tune, Hires New Composer". TV Squad. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  8. ^ Kawashima, Dale (February 24, 2016). "Interview With Evyen Klean, Top Music Supervisor and Owner of Neophonic". 
  9. ^ Buxton, Richard. "Game of Thrones by Ramin Djawadi". Tracksounds. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Ultratop.be – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  11. ^ "Ramin Djawadi Chart History". 
  12. ^ "‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2 Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. May 24, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  13. ^ Elio, García (May 23, 2012). "Season 2 Soundtrack Details". Westeros.org. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  14. ^ Carp, Jesse (May 24, 2012). "Listen to the National Recording of the rains of Castamere for Game of Thrones". cinemablend. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Listen to The National’s new Lannister-happy song from The Game of Thrones soundtrack". io9. May 24, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  16. ^ Buxton, Richard. "Game of Thrones (Season 2) by Ramin Djawadi". Tracksounds. Retrieved September 24, 2012. 
  17. ^ Power, Rob (April 16, 2013). "Game Of Thrones 3.03 "Walk Of Punishment" REVIEW". SFX. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  18. ^ Hibberd, James (March 5, 2013). "'Game of Thrones' and the Hold Steady team for season 3 song". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Ultratop.be – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Season 3" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  20. ^ "Listen: Sigur Rós’ cover of "The Rains of Castamere" for Game of Thrones". Consequence of Sound. April 13, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Season 4" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  22. ^ "Soundtracks". Billboard. July 16, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Spotify Viral 50". Billboard. July 16, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Music from the HBO Series Season 6". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  25. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Music from the HBO Series Season 6" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  26. ^ "Ultratop.be – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Music from the HBO Series Season 6" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  27. ^ "Ultratop.be – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Music from the HBO Series Season 6" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  28. ^ "Ramin Djawadi – Chart history" Billboard Canadian Albums Chart for Ramin Djawadi. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  29. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Music from the HBO Series Season 6" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  30. ^ "Lescharts.com – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Music from the HBO Series Season 6". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  31. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Music from the HBO Series Season 6" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  32. ^ "GFK Chart-Track Albums: Week 26, 2016". Chart-Track. IRMA. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  33. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Soundtrack / Ramin Djawadi – Game of Thrones - Music from the HBO Series Season 6". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  34. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  35. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  36. ^ "Official Soundtrack Albums Chart Top 50". Official Charts. Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  37. ^ "Soundtrack – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Soundtrack. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  38. ^ "Soundtrack". Billboard. Billboard. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Digital Album". Billboard. Billboard. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  40. ^ "Top Album Sales". Billboard. Billboard. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  41. ^ Whelan, Robbie (March 4, 2014). "Unlikely Mix: Rappers, Dragons and Fantasy: HBO Hires Hip-Hop, Latin-Music Artists to Promote 'Game of Thrones'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Catch the Throne". SoundCloud. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
  43. ^ Childers, Chad. "'Catch the Throne, Volume Two' Mixtape released on iTunes". Loudwire. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  44. ^ Camp, Zoe. "Stream Catch the Throne Vol. 2, Official "Game of Thrones" Mixtape". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  45. ^ Abramovitch, Seth (July 14, 2011). "Emmys 2011: The Forgotten Categories". TV.com. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  46. ^ Dooling, Annemarie (July 6, 2011). ""Game of Thrones" Gets A Violin Cover". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  47. ^ Bricken, Rob. "Game of Thrones Opening - Metal Edition". Topless Robot. Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  48. ^ Rao, Malika (May 15, 2012). "The Harp Twins' 'Game Of Thrones' Intro: Camille And Kennerly Kitt Serenade The 7 Kingdoms (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  49. ^ Harrison, Josh (June 18, 2011). "'Game of Thrones' Theme, 8-Bit Style". Ology. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  50. ^ "Super-geeky 'Game of Thrones' theme played on hard drives". 
  51. ^ "'Game Of Thrones' Theme Song Covered By Lindsey Stirling And Peter Hollens". Forbes. September 5, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  52. ^ ""Game of Thrones" gets an awesome cello tribute". CBS News. April 8, 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2013. 
  53. ^ Lough, Chris (June 20, 2013). "Dance it Up to This Slick Ska Version of the Game of Thrones Theme". Tor.com. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  54. ^ Cooper, Nathanael (March 31, 2014). "Classic music ensemble Aston post tribute to Game of Thrones". Courier Mail. Retrieved April 6, 2014. 
  55. ^ pianowithjonny (2015-04-08), Game of Thrones - Ragtime Piano Rendition by Jonny May, retrieved 2016-02-16 
  56. ^ a b "Game of Thrones: Watch the top seven most amazing parodies from The Simpsons to the Romantic Comedy version". 
  57. ^ "Emmys 2014: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic parodies ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Scandal’ theme songs".