Over the previous few years, Djawadi, who wrote all the music for the series, had played 100 or so performances in cities around the United States and Europe.
The show known as “Game Of Thrones Live Concert Experience” matched visuals from the series with musical pieces that included the iconic “Main Title Theme,” “Light of the Seven,” and “The Night King.”
“It was an incredible turnout,” Djawadi says on a recent video call from his Santa Monica studio. “We loved it. The audience really received the concerts well and we had a blast doing it.”
The pandemic arrived months later, and Djawadi went back to scoring other film and television projects.
“And then I started ‘House of the Dragon,’” he says of the “Game Of Thrones” prequel that arrived on HBO in August 2022. “I kind of got back into ‘Game Of Thrones’ land and so we thought maybe it’s not a bad idea to see if people missed the show as much as we do.
“We put it out there and it seems people are excited again,” says Djawadi, a two-time Emmy Award winner for his music for “Game Of Thrones.”
“Game Of Thrones Live Concert Experience” now returns for one night at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, May 13, with Djawadi conducting the Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra as familiar visuals fill the amphitheater’s screens.
In an interview edited for length and clarity, Djawadi talked about the concert on Saturday and his life as part of the greater world of Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms.
Q: It’s been six years since these concerts debuted. What inspired you to do them in the first place?
A: The idea came together in the studio with my showrunners, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, when we finished the last episode of Season 3. They just said, ‘Ramin, we would love to see you perform this music live. You’ve just got to put it out there.’
And I ran with that idea. I thought, OK, let’s not make it just a local concert and see if we can take this out on the road. As a teenager, I was very active playing in bands and performing live. After I finished college, I stopped performing completely because of my job in the studio here. But there’s something very exciting about the connection with the audience that makes this so special.
Q: How have people responded to these concerts? Do they show up in costumes from the show?
A: They sure do. A lot of people showed up in costumes, Jon Snows and Daeneryses and all kinds of different characters. But we had no idea if this was going to work at all. It’s primarily an instrumental show. There are a bunch of choir pieces in there that have these Valyrian-inspired lyrics. But actual lyrics? There’s only “The Rains of Castamere” and “Jenny of Oldstones”
People did come out and the audience also behaved accordingly. Meaning, it was not where they are absolutely quiet and they wait until a piece ends and clap, and then they’re quiet again. When they see something on screen, one of their favorite scenes or characters, they started yelling. They get into it, which for us on stage obviously eggs us on even more and makes it more fun.
Q: How does it work to create the musical world for a new series?
A: That’s where Dan and David were. They had a great vision and they were very collaborative. And from the beginning, they had an idea of what they didn’t want. For example, they said, ‘ “Lord Of Rings, amazing franchise, amazing score, but we are also in that fantasy, sort of medieval world. We would want to do something different.” ‘
We always laugh: They said, ‘No flutes, we don’t want any flutes.’ OK, no flutes.
Q: The main theme is so beloved by fans. Is writing a theme different than writing the rest of a score?
A: I wish I had a formula for it because it would make everything so much easier. But a main title theme, definitely what’s interesting about it is it’s a little compact moment all on its own. Especially in ‘Game Of Thrones,’ we treated the theme as something that we would not draw from until later episodes. I want to say maybe we did not hear hints of them until episode 9.
Q: Do you remember when you first realized people were really responding to the theme or the music in general?
A: I remember very well because the following day after the first episode had aired, David and Dan sent me a YouTube link of a person in Belgium that did a rock cover of them. And he did an incredible job. He played the drums, the bass and the guitar.
And then two hours later there was another version. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, people are really inspired by this and they’re doing their own versions. I never thought people would be into this so much.
Q: Now you’re also scoring ‘House of the Dragon.’ How do you write music for a show that’s in the ‘Game Of Thrones’ universe but is its own thing, too?
A: We always said the DNA needs to stay connected. We want to make sure when people watched this – especially with the show having been off the air for a while – they need to feel back at home. So we wanted to make sure this is familiar territory.
So I call back to some of it to get us into the show, but then we treat it as a continuation of new characters and new plots. We thought, ‘This is before, could there be some instruments that maybe were used 300 years before and later by the time we got to “Game Of Thrones” these instruments fell away?’
So I sprinkled in some flutes a little bit here and there. Some woodwinds, something that I never did in ‘Game Of Thrones.’ Just a slightly different flavor. But overall, the score was meant to sound like ‘Game Of Thrones,’ including a cello being the dominant instrument in the show.
Q: You got to read scripts or see episodes before they ever aired. What was it like to be a little bit ahead of the rest of the world as far as the storylines?
A: I mean, on every project, I take the secrecy very seriously because I truly believe that an audience should see the project when it’s finished in its final form. If I could, I would actually not read the script because I wanted to experience the episodes like the audience would.
So when an episode, a couple of episodes will be ready, I will just sit down and watch them. I want to see the surprise effect of some of the deaths or whatever plotlines were happening. I wanted to be surprised to make sure, OK, when I write the music now I want to keep that intact or maybe even enhance it.
But yeah, I was always very good at keeping a secret. I still actually can tap my mouse and my screen goes black. So anybody that comes into the studio, even my family, it goes to black. I don’t want them to see anything.
Q: Were you aware of ‘Game Of Thrones’ before starting the show? Read the books?
A: I was aware of the books but I had not read them. And then actually I refrained from reading them and always said that I’m going to read them once the show is finished. To be honest, I still haven’t done it. But one day I’m going to sit down and read.
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