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Composer Ramin Djawadi Discusses ‘Game Of Thrones’ Live Concert Experience Coming To BB&T Center

South Florida will turn into the world of Westeros and Essos at the BB&T Center on Sept. 22, as the “Game of Thrones” Live Concert Experience comes to the stage.

The event features “Game of Thrones” composer Ramin Djawadi, and will take the audience through the seven kingdoms spanning the seven seasons of the critically acclaimed series.

Djawadi will lead the orchestra, choir and soloists through the concert, which will will include new music and footage from season seven, as well as a new stage design and visuals that differ from the previous tour of the “Game of Thrones” Live Concert Experience.

We spoke with Ramin Djawadi to discuss the tour, his career, what it’s like to compose music for film and more. Highlights from our conversation are below.

How do you create an immersive experience for the audience during the “Game of Thrones” Live Concert Experience?

The big thing for me was to try to create what I call a hybrid show. I wanted to take orchestral, instrumental music but create more of a show around it. “Game of Thrones” led itself to that really well. 

For example, we have dragons on the screen, so I thought, “Well, why not when you play pieces where we see the dragons, they have [pyrotechnics] on the stage? Or why don’t we simulate some snow that’s falling down?” Things like that I thought would drag the audience deeper into the scenes and into their favorite show, reliving the scenes. That was always my intention—to really create that feeling of being in Westeros. The stage takes on different feelings and shapes and visuals that do all these things and emotionally, while you listen to the music, it visually gets enhanced as well. That was always the plan. 

What was your reaction to the news of your Emmy nominations for “Westworld” and “Games of Thrones?”

Oh, it’s absolutely incredible. It’s an honor to be nominated, you know. Also, with these fellow nominees, there’s so much talent out there and it’s incredible to be recognized with a nomination like that. Both those shows are just incredible shows and I feel very fortunate to be a part of both of them. 

What is your favorite song from “Game of Thrones” to perform on stage and why?

That’s kind of tough. They all kind of do something different. But if I had to pick one, I want to say it’s “Light of the Seven.” That’s the piano organ piece from season six. There’s a couple pieces where I don’t conduct the orchestra myself, where I actually play an instrument, and that’s one of the pieces where I play myself. I play the piano, and there’s a runway on the stage, so I’m actually deeper in with the audience out front. That’s always a very special moment when I’m out there and performing this piece. 

What’s your process of composing songs for “Game of Thrones” and other film projects?

I always start with conversations with my director or producer. Before I write anything, I want to try to get into their head and explore what their vision is. Most of the time, they always come with ideas. They might be very excited about a certain instrument that they feel I should try and use with possible [songs], and they have feelings for certain characters about how they want the music to sound, be portrayed emotionally. 

Then, my job is to actually put that into notes. I just love getting all that information and then being creative with that and translating that into music. With “Game of Thrones,” I do get the episodes and then I watch it together with the show runners. We discuss the actual scenes together and where the music should start and stop. Then I get to sit down and write about it all, and then play it back for them and then we discuss further. So, that’s always the process in writing music. 

What do you take into consideration about plots and characters when you’re creating music for film?

I always look at the music as storytelling. That can be underneath the dialogue, or when there’s no dialogue then the music can come more in to the foreground, but it’s always telling a story. It’s always subconsciously supposed to enhance what the audience is meant to feel. I think that’s the fun of being a film composer is that you really can guide the audience and create emotions that you might not be aware of when you watch the show. When there’s a big action scene you really create the action music to that. It just enhances that scene. Or when there’s an emotional scene that you write, a nice love theme, that just does something for you while you see and hear the show. 

I’m really strongly guided by the plot all the time and the characters. “Game of Thrones” is a great example because there’s such great character arcs of how these characters develop and how things change. The ups and downs of that show is really a beautiful thing to paint with the music and to enhance that. 

Who is your favorite character on “Game of Thrones” to create music for?

I don’t know if I have one. I always try to treat them as if they were all my children and I have to treat them all equally. They are all quite different. It’s nice to musically jump around. Most of them have different instrumentation with them. It’s quite versatile of how I get to then color the music, but yeah I try not to have a favorite at all.

When did you first know you wanted to become a film composer?

Very early on. I’ve always done music and started when I was 4 years old. As a teenager I really discovered that the music I was writing, I was always drawn to the instrumental music. I will write songs but I will not write lyrics. I don’t feel like I’m very articulate with words enough. I’m much more comfortable with notes and music and that people will just listen to the music and have their way of interpreting of what it makes them feel. As a teenager I just discovered that I really have a knack for instrumental music and orchestral music and hybrid music and all those things that kind of happen in film music. From then on, I knew that’s what I wanted to become so I really set out to do what I do now. 

What has been the most memorable part of your career thus far?

Oh, boy. I don’t know. I’m living my dream because I always wanted to do this job. I think off the top of my head, if I have to answer something quickly, it’s the first time when I was standing in front of an audience and orchestra, and the music that I had written and sketched out on demos, and on the computer, and on paper… and to hear it performed live, I think that might have been maybe the most memorable thing. 

It is such a special feeling, and I still have that today every time when I work on a project and when it then gets performed and recorded finally with real musicians. It just brings it to another level when it’s actually played by musicians and they put their feelings into the music and interpretation. That is my favorite part on every project that I do. 

Is there anything else that our readers should know about the concert?

Because this is the second time that we’re touring North America, I think one important thing is for people to know that we have completely redesigned the stage. We have redesigned the lighting, and also we have added music from season seven. I feel like it’s an updated show enough from what it was last year so it’s now current with the same number of seasons we have. 

Storytelling wise, it is a great summary from season one through season seven and it really gets you prepped for season eight. For people that don’t watch “Game of Thrones,” it’s a great crash course on what “Game of Thrones” is all about, and for the fans that love “Game of Thrones,” they get all the highlights of all seven seasons. For people that may have seen the show (the concert) last year, it is quite a different show now. Hopefully it’s exciting for them to actually come back and see an updated show.    

Tickets for the “Game of Thrones” Live Concert Experience can be purchased here.

Photos courtesy of Andrés Jiménez

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