The theme for “Game of Thrones” is one of the most recognisable on TV right now, and not just because it has been around for five years.
Composed by Ramin Djawadi, the theme is simple yet rich, immediately evocative of the clockwork map it accompanies during the show’s title credits each week.
Like most music composed to accompany visual art, the “Thrones” theme is one that was intentionally designed to encapsulate some of the most important ideas behind the show. On the most recent Song Exploder podcast, Djawadi himself takes some time to break down just how he wanted the music to reflect the complex machinations of the show.
One of the best examples Djawadi explores is the theme’s riff — that part that you hum at the very beginning. Djawadi composed it in a minor key, but with a brief switch to a major key — and since the entire theme is built around that riff, it’s tonality (the key it’s in) subtly expresses one of the biggest truths of the show.
“There’s so much backstabbing and conspiracy — anybody can turn on anybody at any point,” said Djawadi. “So I thought it would be cool to do the same play with the music. So even though the majority of the piece is in minor, there’s that little hint of major in there where it kind of switches and then it changes back again.”
It’s a cool little detail about the catchiest part of the song — which, in the years since it debuted, has been remixed and redone with everything from cats:
To Peter Dinklage’s name, hilariously repeated over and over again:
You can listen to the full podcast below for more, and check out Song Exploder for more great dissections of memorable tunes.
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