I missed the first episode of Game of Thrones, I watched it in the rerun. But as soon as the credits rolled in, my sister called me. “Did you hear the soundtrack? They walked in the door. It’s beautiful,” she told me excitedly. 11 years ago, it was no longer common for a series to have such outstanding orchestra and themes. It is no exaggeration to say today that Ramin Djawadi‘s music is one of the essential elements of the series’ success and the guarantee for fans of the continuity and quality of House of the Dragon.
Ramin created the themes for each house linked to the overall theme, the throne and house melodic line is completely moving. Hearing what it’s going to create for the Targaryens gives me as much anticipation as seeing the show itself.
The Game of Thrones soundtrack is, with justice, considered a watershed in the history of entertainment and earned awards (and adoration) for the German composer, of Iranian descent, one of the disciples of the brilliant Hans Zimmer. Ramin worked with his mentor orchestrating The Pirates of the Caribbean, before going solo to score his own.
For each theme, Ramin tried to use instruments that were consistent with the action. The only advice he received was “not to use flutes”. And he understood the characters perfectly.
The melancholy of the North is translated into the Starks theme, which is in Winterfell and Goodbye Brother, among others. “My job is to highlight the journey in the characters with my music,” the composer explained in an interview. “All the Starks got separated. Goodbye Brother was written for when Jon says goodbye to Bran and this Goodbye sets the tone, a tone of sadness. That’s why I always thought the Starks theme should be emotional, sad,” he explained.
The Lannisters have a powerful waltz, which is the melody of The Rains of Castamere, the song quoted in George R. R. Martin‘s books and which, due to the composer’s creativity, became one of the most powerful themes of the series, a kind of warning of danger and tears. After all, according to the writer, the lyrics recount one of the most violent moments in Westeros history, when Tywin Lannister eliminated the Reyne house, who had defied the power of Tywin’s father Tytos, killing everyone mercilessly. The song has become the Lannisters’ anthem, so much so that on hearing it, Catelyn Stark senses the danger that surrounds her son, but too late. It was the night of the “Red Wedding”.
The theme of the Targaryens, in Game of Thrones more linked to Daenerys, is grandiose and evokes the flights of dragons. With more oriental instruments, which reflect the location of the great female character of this saga, it usually includes choirs and some notes from the central theme. Just listen to Mhysa or Winds of Winter or Blood of my Blood.
And mixing the Starks and Targaryens themes we have the beautiful love theme of Daenerys and Jon Snow, in Truth and – mainly – A Thousand Years. “Before Jon died, his theme was the Starks. When he came back we thought it was time to have his own theme, in season six’, Ramin commented in the same interview, “but when his relationship with Daenery started, we felt they needed a score from them, so I composed another theme for him and both. It’s how the work is”, he explained, citing that Arya also started to have a melody that also identifies her with the series already well advanced.
The most played and admired track of the entire series, however, is what later became indirectly “Cersei’s theme”, the Light of the Seven. With almost 10 minutes, it starts with a piano and goes in the same crescendo that we follow in the action, suffocating, tense and anticipating Cersei’s great turn to regain power and eliminate her enemies. No wonder the Night King theme gets similar treatment in the Battle of Winterfell episode. For Ramin, writing for this episode was like writing for a horror movie. They are tracks linked by the coldness (literally) of the two characters.
There are two songs on the track, we need to mention, off the curve. The Bear and the Maiden Fair as well as Power is Power, which are strangers in the nest. The Bear and the Maiden Fair is sung another way in the series, when Brienne is exposed – literally – in a fight with a bear, but is saved by Jamie.
However, the most beautiful of the songs was a surprise of the final season: Jenny of Oldstones. Podrick sings it, at a time when everyone is facing certain death. It is a song that appears several times in the books, recounting the sadness of Jenny of Oldstones, the great love of Duncan Targaryen, one of the ancestors of Jon and Daenerys. Duncan left his wife for Jenny, whose life seems to be related to the prophecy of Azor Ahai, the Prince Who Was Promised, as well as, later, somewhat reminiscent of the story of Lyanna Stark, Jon’s mother. Jenny was friends with a dwarf who lived in the woods and had similar characteristics to the Children of the Forest and danced among the ghosts of those she loved and lost. In the credits of the episode we hear the recording in the voice of Florence and the Machine.
Listen to all the themes here.