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The Masterpiece That is the Music of ‘Game of Thrones’

The television series Game of Thrones, which is based on the fantasy novel series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin, is arguably one of the most popular television series to have ever aired. The last episode broke HBO’s record as 19.3 million viewers tuned into the series finale back in 2019; however, the last season was met with an enormous amount of controversy as a petition created by the user Dylan D. called on HBO to remake Season eight without the original showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Even two years after the series ended, the petition currently has over 1.8 million signatures. On Rotten Tomatoes, the entire series has a rating of 89%, and when broken down by each individual season, season four comes out on top with a rating of 97% while season eight flopped at 54%. 

Despite what many fans and critics thought about how the series ended, the consistency in brilliance displayed by Ramin Djawadi, the musical composer for the entire series, did not go unnoticed. Djawadi has been nominated for seven Emmys, three of which pertain to “Game of Thrones,” and has won twice for his work on “Game of Thrones” for Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score) back in 2018 and 2019. The specific compositions in question include “The Dragon and The Wolf” and “The Long Night.”

Related Article: “Battle of Winterfell” Memorable Moments

What is incredibly noticeable throughout the series is Djawadi’s use of leitmotifs, which are recurring musical themes associated with characters, places, objects and concepts. Throughout the series, the audience follows the journeys of numerous characters, many of which again have their own musical theme. For example, as Arya Stark’s character develops, her theme begins to stray away from the usual Stark cello tune; and, instead, a hammered dulcimer begins to represent Arya’s progression. In addition to these themes, Djawadi has explained how there are lighter and darker versions of each composition in order to effectively contribute to the plot and reflect the emotional range of both the show and the characters. 

One of the most notable and recognizable musical pieces from the show is “Light of the Seven,” which was in season six, episode 10. Here, Djawadi was tasked with creating a song that accompanies an incredibly significant scene, and in this scene, there was minimal dialogue. The song is approximately nine minutes long and is the first throughout the entire series to feature the piano. When describing the reasoning behind this choice, Djawadi remarked that “the piano has a huge dynamic range that almost no other instruments have. It can play very low and it can play very high. It has the attack of the note and the long decay of this haunting feel. It all felt like a perfect fit.” The enormous thought and intricacy placed behind what instruments to use within each scene reflects the detail-oriented approach by Djawadi and allows for the audience to emotionally connect further with the characters. 

Related Article: 5 Reasons You Should Watch Game of Thrones

Then, in season eight, one of the most chilling and climactic scenes of the entire series occurs. Similar to “Light of the Seven,” Djawadi intentionally employed the use of the piano yet again in order to remind the audience of the events that occurred back in season six and to hint at a possible unraveling of the plot. The use of these parallels is common throughout the series as in season one, the theme to King Robert’s arrival to Winterfell is strikingly similar to that of Jon Snow and Daenerys arrival to Winterfell. 

The powerful connections of each piece and just the overall beautiful and complimentary style of Djawadi’s compositions are undeniable throughout “Game of Thrones.” Regardless of your opinions about the end of the series, one fact remains true: the music of “Game of Thrones” is a true masterpiece.

Kathleen Dwyer

George Mason University '23

Kathleen is a junior in the Honors College at George Mason University where she is majoring in Integrative Studies with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Development. Kathleen is originally from Haymarket, Virginia and is passionate about all things Disney. Outside of school, she is a Leadership Consultant at the LEAD Office on campus and enjoys to spend time with family and friends!
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