If you’re anything like me, you cannot stop listening to “Light of the Seven,” the newest piece of music from Game of Thrones which premiered in its recent finale “The Winds of Winter.” A haunting piano melody joined by strings and child vocals, composer Ramin Djawadi sets the tone and cadence of the finale’s opening sequence in King’s Landing that sees Cersei Lannister eliminate all her enemies – rival queen Margaery Tyrell and her family, the pious High Sparrow and his minions and even her own uncle and cousin – by blowing up the church they’re in with wildfire.
Scenes set to music on Game of Thrones are rare and using the piano as an instrument even rarer still. It immediately signals that something is up and, better still, flows with the thrill of discovery as Cersei’s various victims realize and/or try to stop the disaster, all inevitably too late.
As such, translating the show’s narrative unpredictability is one of Djawadi’s favor. He elaborated while speaking with Tech Insider.
“What’s so cool about ‘Light of the Seven’ — and what I love about ‘Game of Thrones’ — is you never know what’s going to happen. You never know who’s going to die, you never know who’s going to turn on who. It’s always interesting to go in different directions with instrumentation, so the piano was such a surprise to people because it’s just not in the language of the score at all. We’ve never used piano before.”
The piano was the first building block put in place, specifically because the producers did not want a reprise of “The Rains of Castamere,” the Lannister theme, to tip off viewers. The piano was director Miguel Sapochnik’s suggestion to capture the sense that thing’s were different but in an undetermined way. When Cersei is crowned Queen at the end of the finale, “Light of the Seven” is spliced with “The Rains of Castamere” to produce the new track “Hear Me Roar.” Speaking with THR, he said:
The piano has a huge dynamic range that almost no other instruments have. It can play very low and it can play very high. It has the attack of the note and the long decay of this haunting feel. It all felt like a perfect fit. What’s great about the scene, too, is there’s hardly any dialogue. It’s nine minutes long. I knew I had to start minimal and give it space. Let notes ring, then give it space, and build up the anticipation from there, without tipping in either direction. You want to watch the scene and slowly realize, “Wait, what are these kids doing here? And what’s this?” And you see the wildfire dripping. You start putting things together, like, “Wait, what’s going on?” It was very fun to build. We have organ in this, we have cello, we have solo violin. The big orchestra, the strings, don’t even come in until the very last minute or so of the piece. It was so tempting to start earlier, and make it blow up earlier, but I felt like it would be nice to wait until you see the visual of the wildfire and you realize what’s going on.
While he hasn’t yet started work on season 7 (production begins later this cycle for weather reasons), he is as eager as any fan to see what’s next and to experiment further.
What I love about Game of Thrones is that it’s a fantasy show and fantasy world, and already in the history of the show, I’ve run wild with instrumentation. There’s modern synthesizers in it and all kinds of things. So why not? Let’s have the piano. It’ll be a big surprise, and it’s what we want to achieve. And there’s really nothing like it. The piano has this decay and attack at the same time. We even experimented with the harp, but the harp was not as haunting as the piano.