Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi opens up about his musical phenomenon, and why fans can't get enough.
Every so often, a small screen hit gives fans an equally amazing theme song — one that evokes memories of favorite past episodes and stirs up excitement for the ones to come.
Since HBO’s Game of Thrones premiered in 2011, its epic title theme song has done exactly that, while giving fans chills to boot. It was indeed music to fan’s ears as millions of fans who’d waited for two wintry years, tuned in to watch the premiere of the historic show’s eighth and final season. Composer, Ramin Djawadi, 44, tells PEOPLE that the musical magic is thanks in part to a seamless collaboration with Game of Thrones creators, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff.
“I love David and Dan (and) I love working with them,” Djawadi said. “When I started working on the show, they took me to the effects house where they were creating the visuals for the main title. We watched it and talked about it and that’s really where most of the inspiration came from. We discussed that we wanted the new title to capture the overall mood of the show. Words like ‘adventure’, ‘journey’ and ‘mystery’ were said.”
A careful selection of instruments has also contributed to the success of the theme song, and ultimately, the entire score. To set the show’s haunting tone, Djawadi uses the cello as the backbone for most songs. He says its low range feels “dark and moody”, which matches the tone of the show (what Djawadi refers to as the “musical palette”) perfectly.
The end result was a total masterpiece. Still, Djawadi who’s won an Emmy for his work on Thrones, says the response from fans far exceeded even his wildest expectations.
“I was very excited when the show was such a hit,” Djawadi said. “I would’ve never dreamed that the next day after the show aired there would be a bunch of cover songs popping up on YouTube. It was incredible to see.”
In fact, fans are so obsessed with the music that a break from it in between seasons just wouldn’t suffice. So last year, Djawadi rounded up a full orchestra and choir and took it on a sold-out tour. Game of Thrones fans across America and Europe were able to relive the show’s most memorable moments set to the sounds of the Djawadi’s music.
The Iranian-German musician says the experience was a personal career high because, as an instrumental film composer with over 100 scores under his belt, including for Marvel films and other hit shows like Westworld, he doesn’t get to perform for the people very often.
“It was really great to see that the fans were so excited and reminded about everything that had happened (in the show),” says Djawadi. “There is something very special that happens when you actually hear the music performed. You really see the musicians play it and their interpretations of it.”
RELATED: Game of Thrones Cast: Then & Now
Despite being an OG Game of Thrones crew member, Djawadi says he doesn’t have a favorite cast member. The production process actually prevents him from seeing Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and the rest of the Game of Thrones squad in action as much as he would like to.
By the time Djawadi steps in to create the score, the episodes have already been shot and are moving swiftly through post-production (which includes sound and special effects work). Next, Djawadi joins Weiss and Benioff for a painstaking screening where they discuss, edit and tweak the details — hence: why the end product is so flawless.
The hardest scene he’s had to score came just last season. [If you’re not caught up, SPOILER ALERT!] “Jon and Dany’s love scene took a little bit to get right,” says Djawadi. “You didn’t want to immediately establish it as a love scene so it took me a minute to create a new melody that at first plays more neutral and then as that relationship develops, grows more emotional and romantic.”
As for the end of an era quickly approaching, Djawadi (who says he’s a big fan of the show himself) is just as emotional as the rest of us. Obviously, Djawadi can’t drop any spoilers, but says he’s “super” excited to show how everything goes down.
“I can’t wait for the viewers to see this.”
- Reporting by JANINE RUBENSTEIN