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Why the Game of Thrones Composer Watches Each Episode a Thousand Times

Stashed in: Practice, 10,000 Hours, Music, Music, HBO

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Holy smokes the music on Game of Thrones is incredibly well thought through.

It started when Djawadi met with series showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to establish ground rules at the beginning. “I always like to ask, which instruments do you like and which do you not like, because any sort of restriction that they give to me helps me make decisions on what I write,” Djawadi said. The one instrument that was off-limits was the flute, so Djawadi opted for the rich, dark tones of the cello, which has such a wide range that sometimes he can just use it solo. “It can be so moody, which is so perfect for the show,” he says.

When Djawadi sits down with the producers to spot each episode, they watch it and talk about when the music should start and stop, what it should accomplish, and where they want to go with the story line. “We planted the Lannister theme in the first episode of season two,” he says, “where Tyrion walks in and actually whistles the theme.

The theme made, as most fans remember vividly, a famous return in the Red Wedding. “You hear that music playing, and you go, ‘Oh my God,” Djawadi recalls, grimacing. “It was pretty hard to work on actually, because, obviously, you have to watch it over and over again. You just look at it like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening!’”

After that, Djawadi’s left to his own devices: “As I write the piece, I start out with a string line or a piano map. Then I actually start to arrange it, all the different instruments and different elements of the piece. Sometimes you get so microscopic [just] looking at one thing. And sometimes when you watch it as a whole, you think this piece is actually too big or too foreboding, so you make new discoveries. [Then I] go back over it and add all these layers.”

Makes me appreciate these more.

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