Even if you have no interest in TV, I suggest reading this one.

Composer Ramin Djawadi’s score is responsible for all the poetry and power of House of the Dragon’s first ten minutes. Game of Thrones’ iconic cello riff begins, then falls away (“bends the knee”) to support a stranger, more martial theme: the Targaryen leitmotif. A dragon soars over a city and the theme soars with it in graceful arpeggios, piercing octaves like clouds. Then, as the camera drifts downward and settles on the commonfolk moving about their daily lives, that original, familiar riff returns in a major key.

Without that score, you’re left with an ominous voice-over and a collage of stale images: glowering kings, pseudo-papal pomp, castle ramparts, and dragons sailing over medieval landscapes. WarhammerBaldur’s Gate III, Elden RingWorld of WarCraft, Shadow of the Gods, Eragon, Dragonriders of Pern… It’s the fluff that the fantasy genre churns out cover by cover, trailer by trailer, year after year.

With it, you receive a strong impression of vassals and subjects, conqueror and conquered, the celestial and the earthbound. More importantly, you know you’re in Westeros.

It’s an exception in TV, and so is the career of its author. Bear McCreary (Foundation, Rings of Power), Nicolas Britell (Succession), and Djawadi (House of the Dragon, Westworld) work in productions that seemingly leak money from their pores. Aside from an intro and an outro, everyone else gets needle drops.

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