Ramin Djawadi Talks Westworld, Game of Thrones, and Other Memorable Soundtracks

Creating a signature sound sets the tone for his projects

Ramin Djawadi Westworld

One of the reasons Westworld is such an amazing show is the music. Whether it’s the powerful theme, the original player piano arrangements of modern hits, or the chilling background music, Ramin Djawadi’s unique genius is constantly on display. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Djawadi discusses his composition process and the score development for four of his biggest soundtracks.

Perhaps Ramin Djawadi’s talent is aided by his ability to see the music as well as hear it. He has synesthesia (a condition in which one type of sensory stimulation produces sensation in another) which causes him to associate music with colors. Djawadi explains, “It’s actually something my wife discovered. She’d always asked me about my process and how I write music, so I just describe it to her. I see it in visuals and all the colors come to me and it triggers notes and melodies, and I didn’t know there was a terminology for it.”

Djawadi goes on to discuss the creative process behind the films Iron Man and Pacific Rim, saying that directors Jon Favreau and Guillermo Del Toro both wanted guitar. Favreau insisted that “Tony Stark is a rock star,” and after hearing a more orchestral arrangement Del Toro said “Let’s go more rock ‘n roll.” Scoring Game of Thrones was more difficult, because showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss were very specific that it not be too medieval or “cliche for fantasy.” Luckily Djawadi was able to hit on the perfect sound, and created a theme that is unmistakable.

The challenge of scoring Westworld

Showrunner Jonathan Nolan chose Djawadi to create the music for Westworld after working with him on Batman Begins and Person of Interest (another AI drama). With such a unique blend of storylines and scenery (past and present, modern and rustic), Djawadi wanted to reflect those contradictions in his music. “Nolan wanted piano everywhere because of the player piano,” he says. “What’s really interesting about that score is blending the Western sounds and acoustic guitars and all that and then the electronics, so I got my synthesizers out and did some analog ’70s synthesizer sounds to pay homage to the original [1973 film].”

Funnily enough, Djawadi’s old fashioned takes on popular music – using Westworld’s player piano – have caused the most reaction among fans of the show. “Oh, it’s just something in the background and people won’t notice,’” Djawadi remembers thinking, “and then people were tweeting every week!”

Check out the entire interview at EW, and let us know your favorite Westworld music in the comments!

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