May 20, 2019

GAME OF THRONES’ Season 8 Digital Soundtrack Released – And a Look Back at Ramin Djawadi’s Music for the Series

– Randall D. Larson

GoT S8 OST.jpgA digital soundtrack has been released by WaterTower Music of Ramin Djawadi’s music from final, eighth season of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES. A Double CD release is scheduled for July 19, 2019 and a vinyl release later in the year.

Looking Back at the Series’ Music

When Ramin Djawadi originally signed on to score GAME OF THRONES in 2011, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss gave him one rule: No flutes allowed, wrote Chancellor Agard in an article for Entertainment Weekly. “They didn’t want a medieval feel because that’s what you’d expect,” Djawadi told him. “They wanted something a bit more contemporary.” In the end, that boundary was a blessing: “Giving me restrictions of where to search creatively helped so much.” With flutes unavailable to him, the Iranian-German composer decided to make the cello the backbone of the HBO epic. “I just felt that could be the instrument for the show because it has such a wide range.”

Ramin_Djawadi wikipedia

RAMIN DJAWADI – via wikipedia

“They were looking for a bit more of a contemporary sound, even though overall the score is definitely traditional instruments, but they were just the writing style they described to be a bit more contemporary,” Djawadi told Rachel Brodsky in an interview for “They said, ‘Look, you can use synthesizers,’ because there’s definitely plenty of synthesizers in the score. It’s all pretty much organic, but they wanted contemporary.”

Throughout the show’s eight seasons, Djawadi’s musical palette has expanded as the storyline became more expansive and its dramatic twists and turns developed in intensity.  “It started out intentionally small,” Djawadi told Jon Burlingame in Variety. “As the story expanded, the dragons arrived, the battles grew, the drama got bigger and bigger, the music had to grow with it. We added bigger orchestras, more choir, more instrumentation all around.”

Djawadi also added more non-Western instruments to the score’s sonic palette –  hammered  dulcimer, for example, was frequently used in association with Arya Stark “because the instrument’s pingy sound reminds Djawadi of her sword, Needle,” wrote Agard, who added that one of Djawadi’s boldest moves was the use of a piano in ‘Light of the Seven,’ which scores Cersei Lannister’s explosive plot to destroy her enemies in the season 6 finale. That instrument had never been part of the show’s musical language, which concerned Djawadi as being too radical of a change for the score’s sonic texture. He first tried the music out on different instruments, like the harp. “It just didn’t have that same effect,” he told Agard. “So we went back to the piano. The minute it starts, you realize right away that something is not right.”

Djawadi also expanded his repertoire of character themes as the series’ storyline progressed. “Most of the time we use the Stark theme for Jon Snow,” he told “When he died and when he came back we thought ‘Oh, it’s maybe time to give him his own theme, so then I wrote a whole new theme for him.’ That was in season six. Then, in season seven when the relationship with Dany happened, then we felt the need [to create] a love theme that we make for them, so now we had yet another theme that we could use for him or for them. That’s how it kind of develops. Same with Arya. She kind of started doing her own thing, and that’s when we felt okay, it’s time to give her her own theme. Every season we look at where are these character arcs going and how we should approach it.”

In an interview with Insider last April, Djawadi said the experience of producing the series’ final season has been bittersweet. Because of the need to maintain the secrecy of the season’s storyline, the composer had to watch the episodes by himself. “Obviously it’s so under wraps that even my direct team can’t have access to my studio,” Djawadi said. “So it was just me and nobody else, all the doors were locked. It was quite emotional.”

GAME OF THRONES’ Season 8 boasts the largest ensemble yet: a 60-piece orchestra, a 40-voice mixed chorus and a 12-voice children’s choir, wrote Jon Burlingame in Variety, adding that the composer Benioff and Weiss for savvy use of music throughout the series. “They are always very clear about the direction we’re heading in,” Djawadi told him, “so I know what I can set up musically… “I feel like [this series] really shaped my career, shaped me as an artist and as a composer in terms of defining my style,” he says. “Being able to write music for such a vast project, developing the score and stylistically setting a tone for a show like this — it’s been quite a journey.” Read Jon’s article for a list of Djawadi’s favorite GoT musical moments across the series.

Download the 32-track soundtrack from iTunes or Amazon.

This Wikipedia page about the Season 8 soundtrack provides the album’s tracklist and a helpful guide to where each of the tracks was used in the season.

Watch “Inside Game of Thrones: A Story in Score,” an HBO featurette from 2017, just prior to the premiere of the 7th season:


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