Emmy-Nominated Composer Ramin Djawadi Talks Game of Thrones

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Kit Harington as Jon Snow (Photo courtesy of HBO)

At the age of 4, Ramin Djawadi walked up to a piano. Born and raised in Germany, the German-Iranian composer has spent his entire life having a love affair with music. As a child, he recalled playing a song he heard on television by memory, which led his parents to enroll him in music lessons. And it was the overall power of music in film and television that coursed through Djawadi’s veins.

“When I saw the film The Magnificent Seven, that score triggered something in me,” says Djawadi. “I was always drawn to instrumental music. I don’t write lyrics, I’m an instrumental guy.”

As a composer, Djawadi is drawn to the classical era and romantic period. He is inspired by Wagner, Tchaikovsky and other greats from the past that played a big part of his upbringing. That said, he also loves pop music from the ’80s, which in Germany, was called the new wave, featuring the likes of Duran Duran and Depeche Mode.

Composer Ramin Djawadi (Photo by Andrés Jiménez)

Starting on the organ—Djawadi was so young he couldn’t reach the pedals—in high school, he switched from the piano to guitar, where he got into rock music, which he says greatly shaped him. When he went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Djawadi pushed more into jazz. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles to embark on his film career.

“Not even being fully aware, being such a musical chameleon set me up for being a film composer,” he said. “Nowadays in film music, there’s no boundaries; you can mix all styles and instrumentations and whatever creatively works, I embrace and welcome.”

As a film composer, Djawadi says every project is different and that every time he is faced with a challenge of how to come up with something new.

“I have to sit back and examine and say what does this project need? What’s the style instrumentation and how can I get creative with the music?” he said, adding that his credits include Marvel’s Iron Man, Pacific Rim and The Mountain Between Us as well as Game of Thrones and Westworld.Prior to the Emmys on Sept. 17, Djawadi has earned two nominations for Outstanding Music Composition For A Series Original Dramatic Score. Having crafted outstanding musical scores for two television juggernauts in Game of Thrones and Westworld, he will be honored with dueling nominations in the same category.

But this isn’t his first time. Djawadi was previously nominated for an Emmy in 2017 for his Main Title Theme Music on Westworld.

“It was incredible,” he said of receiving the double nomination. “I didn’t expect it at all, then to be nominated twice blew me away. I am very honored to be recognized.”

Season two of Westworld wrapped up in June and Game of Thrones makes its long-awaited return for its eighth and final season in 2019. Djawadi described being a part of two such hit television shows as “mind blowing.”

“Both shows are so different. It’s fun for me on both to create the material to define what the show is,” he said, adding that everyone involved is incredible to work with. “The story is what comes first, I draw all my inspiration from that. I’m very inspired by the visuals and I like seeing the footage of the episodes.”

Djawadi sits with the showrunners when they go through character developments and collaborates with them by getting into their head about their vision. He said that getting a description about the characters and what they are feeling in that moment is key to the music behind them. And just as it translates on television, on a bigger stage, Djawadi’s music for Game of Thrones is quite a sensory experience. The critically acclaimed Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience returns to North America, giving fans the opportunity to watch Djawadi lead an orchestra and choir performing music from all seven seasons of the show on a custom stage with mesmerizing visuals and effects.

Ramin Djawadi conducts the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience in Berlin. (Photo by Ralph Larmann)

Produced and promoted by Live Nation in partnership with HBO, the North American leg of the tour kicks off on Sept. 6 in Seattle and will conclude on Oct. 14 in Toronto. It comes to Madison Square Garden on Oct. 3. As for what fans can expect of the live concert experience, the composer said it will make them feel like they are in Westeros.

“I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones myself, and while we’re waiting for the next season to come, I thought this would be a great hold over for hardcore fans,” he said of the concert. “It’s a great walk-through all the way back to season one and gets fans excited for the final season.”

Keeping busy, the composer has been involved with the film The Slender Man, Amazon’s show Jack Ryan and has plans to work on Microsoft’s video game, Gears of War.

As you wait for Djawadi’s music in the final season of Game of Thrones, get your tickets to the live concert experience now, by visiting www.gameofthronesconcert.com.

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