It seems like the whole world is gearing up for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, the fantasy series that returns to HBO on April 14. In anticipation of this, I interviewed Ramin Djawadi — who won his first Emmy last year for his music for the final episode of the seventh season — about his history with the show. For this Variety story, he talks briefly (without spoilers) about working on the final season, about what the journey has been like (including a world tour with live orchestras playing the music) and what his top five musical moments in the series have been. Game of Thrones, you’ll not be surprised to learn, has changed his life.
The Television Academy announced its nominees for the 70th annual Emmy Awards on July 12. There are now six music categories in the prime-time race. My overview of the music nominees ran that morning in Variety, highlighting the possibility that an Emmy win for songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul could make them EGOTs (having won all four major show-biz awards). For an Aug. 13 story, I interviewed the nominees for Music Composition for a Series (including Game of Thrones, Jessica Jones, Once Upon a Time, SEAL Team, Star Wars Rebels and Westworld). And for an Aug. 14 story, I interviewed the nominees for Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (including Alias Grace, Black Mirror, Godless, March of the Penguins 2 and two different episodes of Electric Dreams).
The obsession that some Game of Thrones fans have with Ramin Djawadi’s music took even the composer by surprise. (The numbers associated with the various YouTube versions of the theme — from serious ones on violin or cello to wacky ones for cat, floppy disc, wine glasses and more — are simply astounding.) Now, however, fans of the HBO series who must wait another year for new episodes can get their fix with a live concert version that will tour North America in early 2017. I attended the press conference at which Live Nation announced the plans, and composer Djawadi talked about the phenomenon.
For this season’s Emmy contenders issue, the editors at Variety posed an interesting question: When TV series run two, three, four or more seasons, how do the composers treat their characters and story arcs? Is it best to ground them in familiar musical territory, or should the scores reflect the changing, often expanding, storylines? I interviewed a wide range of composers to find out how they handled the challenge: Bear McCreary (Outlander), Blake Neely (The Flash), Joey Newman (The Middle), Jeff Beal (House of Cards), Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones), John Lunn (Downton Abbey) and Sean Callery (Homeland).
Madeleine Brand, the host of KCRW’s daily talk show “Press Play,” invited me on today to talk about music in television. As always with Madeleine — one of L.A.’s best radio hosts, endlessly curious and super-well-informed — it was lots of fun, discussing music in Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Outlander, Empire and more. Here is a link to the show, where you can listen online.
My friends at Emmy magazine asked me to profile three composers, all potential Emmy nominees for their scores for TV series in the 2012-13 season. Here’s the piece about John Lunn, who scores PBS’s Downton Abbey. I also wrote about Christopher Lennertz of NBC’s Revolution and Ramin Djawadi for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Will try to post those shortly.