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 by WaterTower Music subsequently. 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]

A series of concerts which featured Game of Thrones music, Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience with composer Ramin Djawadi, is set to take place in 2017. First to be performed in Saint Paul, Minnesota, it will then go on to tour across the United States and Canada.[2][3]



Year Title Composer
2011 Game of Thrones (season 1) Ramin Djawadi
2012 Game of Thrones (season 2)
2013 Game of Thrones (season 3)
2014 Game of Thrones (season 4)
2015 Game of Thrones (season 5)
2016 Game of Thrones (season 6)


Year Title Artist
2014 Catch the Throne: Volume I Various
2015 Catch the Throne: Volume II Various


Initially, a different composer, Stephen Warbeck, was hired for the pilot episode of Game of Thrones but he left the project.[4] The music consultant for HBO and music supervisor of Game of Thrones Evyen Klean then suggested Ramin Djawadi to David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.[5] Djawadi, although initially interested, declined the offer three days later as the schedule conflicted with a film he was working on. Djawadi was nevertheless persuaded to take on the project after a few meetings.[6] The showrunners Benioff and Weiss sent Djawadi the first two episodes of the series, which Djawadi was impressed by, and so arranged a meeting with Benioff and Weiss to discuss the concept of the show, after which he began to compose the music for the show.[1][7] According to Djawadi, Benioff and Weiss wanted the different characters and plots to be musically supported.[8] They decided that the music would be used to express the emotion and mood of each scene in the show, and that distinct themes would be created for some of the main characters.[9]

The process of composition is essentially the same throughout the series. Once the filming is nearly completed, episodes are sent to Djawadi in batches as they're being edited together but often before any special effects added in the footage, and these episodes may be sent singly or in set of multiple episodes. Benioff and Weiss would also inform Djawadi in advance of the need to expand a theme or create new themes for characters.[7] Asked in interview about the overall process of composing the music and how it is used in the series, Djawadi stated "I sit with David and Dan and we do what's called a spotting session where we watch the entire episode and then discuss when music should start and stop. Everybody's very involved with that. And it constantly gets played with. What I love about Game of Thrones is that the positioning of the music is so well done, because it's not overdone. When the music cuts in, it really has something to say."[10]


Main Title[edit]

Main article: Game of Thrones Theme

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.[11] Cello was chosen as the main instrument for the music as he thought it has a "darker sound" that suited the show.[11]

Houses and characters[edit]

Djawadi composed leitmotifs for each of the major houses, some locations and some of the characters, which are often played in scenes involving them. Not all characters would have their own themes due to the large number of characters in the show.[9] 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.[12] A new theme for Jon Snow, previously using only the House Stark theme, was created in the sixth season and prominently 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.[7] 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.[8]

Themes may evolve over time in the show. The theme for Daenerys Targaryen started small, but became grander as she became more powerful. Her theme was initially played with a single instrument such as a processed cello, but later began incorporating more instruments, including Japanese taiko-inspired drums, Indonesian bedug drums, and an Armenian duduk flute.[12] Syllables and words in Valyrian, a fictional language of Game of Thrones, were also used in her theme music, although not as whole sentences.[7] The themes for the White Walkers and the Night King are more of sound designs rather than regular themes; the White Walker theme initially employed a glass harmonica for a "really high, eerie, icy sound", but became fully orchestral when the army of the dead was revealed in the season two finale.[12]

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 Daenerys, Theon Greyjoy, the Unsullied, the dragons, and the main title.[12]

Other scores[edit]

Various music scores are also composed for particular plot lines in the show. A notable piece is the "Light of the Seven" which is played at the beginning of the final episode of the sixth season, "The Winds of Winter". This piece, which is over nine minutes long and created specifically for the scene, is unusual in its choice of piano which is not an instrument used before on the show.[13] Such long pieces are seldom used, although in the sixth season there are soundtracks that cover a 10-minute section in the Hodor scenes in "The Door" episode and a 22-minute sequence in the "Battle of the Bastards" episode.[13]



Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2011 International Film Music Critics Association Best Original Score for a Television Series Nominated [14]
2012 ASCAP Awards Top Television Series Won [15]
2013 ASCAP Awards Top Television Series Won [16]
International Film Music Critics Association Best Original Score for a Television Series Nominated [17]
2014 66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score) Episode: "The Mountain and the Viper" Nominated [18]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Original Score - TV Show/Digital Streaming Series Nominated [19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ "Game of Thrones concert experience hits the road in 2017". The Guardian. August 8, 2016. Archived from the original on August 21, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2017. 
  3. ^ Selcke, Dan (February 21, 2017). "The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience has begun, and fans love it". Archived from the original on February 22, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Thrones Switches Composer". Winter is Coming. February 2, 2011. 
  5. ^ Kawashima, Dale (February 24, 2016). "Interview With Evyen Klean, Top Music Supervisor and Owner of Neophonic". Songwriter Universe. 
  6. ^ Davis, Cindy (September 12, 2016). "Mindhole Blowers: 20 Facts About "Game of Thrones" That Might Leave You Crippled, a Bastard or a Broken Thing". Pajiba. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b Mahoney, Lesley (September 20, 2013). "Behind the Scenes with Game of Thrones Composer Ramin Djawadi". Berklee College of Music. 
  9. ^ a b Ferreiro, Laura (April 25, 2013). "Game of Thrones' Composer Ramin Djawadi Talks Epic Score, Daenerys' Dragons, and Metal 'Thrones' Theme". Yahoo! Music. 
  10. ^ Blickley, Leigh (June 29, 2016). "'Game Of Thrones' Composer Breaks Down The Season Finale's Opening Sequence". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ a b c d Vineyard, Jennifer. "Game of Thrones Composer Ramin Djawadi on the Show's Key Musical Elements, and That Godfather-esque Finale Tune". Vulture. 
  13. ^ a b Wigler, Josh (June 28, 2016). "'Game of Thrones' Composer Discusses "Light of the Seven," the Finale's "Haunting" King's Landing Score". Hollywood Reporter. 
  14. ^ "IFMCA Award Nominations 2011 - IFMCA: the International Film Music Critics Association". 
  15. ^ "ASCAP Honors Top Film and Television Music Composers at 27th Annual Awards Celebration". 
  16. ^ "ASCAP Honors Top Film and Television Music Composers at 28th Annual Awards Celebration". 
  17. ^ "IFMCA Award Nominations 2013 - IFMCA: the International Film Music Critics Association". 
  18. ^ "Emmy Awards 2014: the nominations in full". Daily Telegraph. July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Hollywood Music in Media Awards Nominations Announced". October 8, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2017.