It started with the otherworldly opening credits and then was solidified shortly after by an explosive western shoot-out (accompanied with The Rolling Stone’s “Paint It, Black” on a player piano) – Ramin Djawadi made his masterful musical mark on Westworld.
Wired spoke to Djawadi about this unique sound and what the well-known tracks attribute to the characters in Westworld.
To better differentiate the Wild, Wild West and futuristic control deck, Djawadi would use the same songs in both worlds but change the instrumentals.
We wanted the control room to still feel Western, to be gritty and tough, like in the park, but, visually, they’re very different, and you can support the separation between the two worlds sonically.
By playing tunes we’re already familiar with on the player piano, the composer had a newfound freedom to create his own Westworld subtext.
It’s been an amazing tool to seamlessly blend the background score into source music, as a subtle way of reminding the audience that everything in there is programmed. Everything is on a time loop.
His musical commentary on authenticity is exceedingly revealing of the hosts and adds value to the major theme in season one.
That’s the twist. In the show, everything is so real, until you look closely. The music is a subtle layer of that.
A prime example of this exemplary blend of music and subtext is through Maeve’s journey of self-awareness and control. Her devastation when she uncovers the truth of her false world to Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack” is equally heart-shattering for viewers when set to such a tune. When she regains her senses and takes control of her situation, the soundtrack fittingly shifts to Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.”
She’s making an active decision of breaking this time loop, and we actively picked a different song. It shows she’s heading away from the repetition.
Have you been listening to the soundtrack? What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!