Ramin Djawadi doesn’t have any Game of Thrones theories.
The Emmy-winning composer of Thrones, Westworld, Jack Ryan and more is in the midst of another national – actually, international – concert tour, but when it comes to prepping for Season 8, theorizing is one thing he won’t do.
“I’m the worst person to ask!” he tells Mashable in a phone interview. “People ask me ‘What’s your favorite scene?’ or like my favorite to write, and it’s so hard because I feel like as the composer for the show I need to treat all the characters and all the themes as equally as possible. You know, it’s like you love all the kids the same – and so same with me trying to predict the ending or saying I would love to see this character on the throne. I literally just freeze and go ‘I don’t know.'”
It’s rare for a Hollywood composer to work on the same project for as long as Djawadi has, but that’s the beauty of television; it’s a multi-layered project and an ongoing, evolving task that shifts with each season.
“Musically speaking you can get to establish a theme and you can just push the limits of that theme and just every season,” Djawadi says. He points to Westworld Season 2, to the new music created for Dolores when simply changing her Season 1 theme didn’t sufficiently relay her character’s transformation.
Djawadi hasn’t started on Thrones Season 8 yet, but he’s wrapped up in tour for the time being. As much as he enjoys traveling the world and conducting his music in massive arenas, he likes to joke that at some point he has to go back to his day job – you know, writing music.
“I always had this vision of doing this kind of a tour but I didn’t know if it was going to work or not,” he says of the Game of Thrones concert experience. “It’s an interesting hybrid; it’s an orchestral/instrumental show, but it’s not a classical concert, and it’s a contemporary show with pyro and big amplification in the arena, but it’s not a rock concert. So where do you place this?”
“This being the final season, I would say I’m dying to find out what’s gonna happen.”
Finding a genre didn’t end up being a big concern when Thrones‘ first concert tour filled arenas worldwide. The experience – which Mashable covered in detail – is unexpectedly immersive; a multi-sensory visit to Westeros that enhances the fan experience unlike anything else.
“I was so pleasantly surprised how much fun people had at the concerts,” Djawadi says. “That’s really something I wanted the audience to have is just fun – seeing their favorite show, enjoying the music, and you’re really submerged in this world.”
He compares the second tour to a house remodel: “Once you start, you go ‘Oh, might as well do the bathroom,’ and ‘Now we can do the bedroom,’ and that happened a little bit on this,” he says. “We were like, ‘Oh, let’s add new pyro,” and there may be a stunt that involves lifting a violinist 35 feet into the air.
When it comes to that day job, Djawadi is far from burnt out. He changed his own game with Season 6’s “The Light of the Seven,” a piece unlike anything Thrones had ever done before. In Season 7, he kept it fresh by doing the opposite, by subtly introducing new themes that only hint at what’s to come.
“You don’t want to fall into ‘Oh now they’re gonna do something drastic,’ … you don’t try to repeat something from the previous season,” he says.
It was for precisely that reason that Djawadi worked backward to introduce the most significant new theme of Season 7: Jon and Daenerys’ love theme. Djawadi actually wrote the full version from the final episode first, then went back and planted more “sparse” versions in the other moments those two share throughout the season. You’ll hear it stirring when Jon asks her about dragon glass; a more fully formed version sneaks in north of the wall when Daenerys rescues Jon’s team from the Army of the Dead.
Djawadi is excited for Thrones Season 8, and he’s content to take his time. He’s here for the story, like the rest of us, and to see what new themes he’ll be able to create. “Is it uplifting or dark or exciting?” he asks. “Whatever it is, I just have to see what will come my way.”
So will we. Game of Thrones returns in 2019, and the concert is currently touring the U.S.