Game of Thrones soundtrack: everything to know about composer Ramin Djawadi’s fantasy score

8 October 2021, 15:52 | Updated: 8 October 2021, 16:11

Game of Thrones soundtrack: everything to know about composer Ramin Djawadi’s fantasy score
Game of Thrones soundtrack: everything to know about composer Ramin Djawadi’s fantasy score. Picture: Alamy

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A close look at Ramin Djawadi’s rich soundtrack for the HBO fantasy series – from the stirring main theme to the instrument that takes a starring role.

From the ear-wormy opening titles meme, to some full-voiced choral numbers (we’re looking at you, ‘Khaleesi’), Ramin Djawadi’s score for Game of Thrones is a treasure trove of great melodies and instrumentation.

It has won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Music Composition, two ASCAP Awards and was nominated for a Grammy. In fact, it is so popular that producers decided to create a Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, which toured the US, UK and Canada a few years ago.

With the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, slated for release in 2022, here’s everything you need to know about the sweeping GoT soundtrack.

Read more: Everything you need to know about Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi

Winter Has Come – from The Game of Thrones Symphony

Who did the soundtrack for Game of Thrones?

The music for Game of Thrones was penned by German-Iranian composer Ramin Djawadi, who is now best known for his work on the ambitious franchise.

Elsewhere, Djawadi’s notable contributions to the world of film and TV music include Westworld, Iron Man and the upcoming Marvel movie Eternals.

Born in West Germany, Djawadi later moved to the US to study music and, after graduating from the great Berklee College of Music with Honours, was spotted and mentored by the great Hans Zimmer.

With previous composing credits for Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) and The Island (2005), Djawadi notes that his fusion of ethnic, Middle Eastern and Romantic influences is what drew the Game of Thrones team to him.

Ramin Djawadi conducting 'Game Of Thrones' In Concert - New York, New York
Ramin Djawadi conducting 'Game Of Thrones' In Concert. Picture: Getty

What is the Game of Thrones theme called?

The title theme is simply called ‘Game of Thrones Theme’, but is also referred to as ‘Main Titles’ on Game of Thrones soundtrack albums.

The opening credits of Game of Thrones is the most famous piece of music from the series but Ramin Djawadi has written the music for all eight seasons, including the upcoming season.

As well as the main theme, distinct individual themes have been created for some of the main characters and Houses.

Read more: The Game of Thrones theme played on contrabass flute is haunting and monumental

Djawadi’s stirring score is dominated by the main title theme. Djawadi said he was inspired to write the iconic melody after watching an early version of the series’ computer-generated title sequence.

The riff, seen below, recurs in various guises throughout the episodes in each season.

Game of Thrones theme
Game of Thrones theme. Picture: IMSLP/Ramin Djawadi

What instrument is used in the Game of Thrones soundtrack?

When Djawadi was approached by producers to compose the score, he was told to avoid flutes and violins which are, in their words, ‘overused’ in fantasy soundtracks.

So, he decided to lead the fantasy theme with a cello.

“It can be very dark and moody, but also beautiful and emotional at the same time,” says Djawadi, “And it’s just perfect for the show. Because it’s such a dark show. Obviously, because all these families have their problems.”

Cover versions and parodies

As with all great music, the Game of Thrones theme has inspired many tributes and cover versions, including a cello-only version by 2Cellos and a chamber version by Australian classical pop group, Aston.

It was also given lyrics for the first time in 2014, when ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic performed a parody version at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Here’s a particularly beautiful reimagining of the theme, composed by pianist Edoardo Brotto in the style of Rachmaninov:

Game of Thrones in the style of Rachmaninov - Edoardo Brotto

House of the Dragon will be released on 1 January 2022.