There are many, many keys to the ever-growing popularity of Game of Thrones. The writers, the source material, and the actors get the most focus, but meticulous artisans like costumer designer Michele Clapton, production designer Deborah Riley, composer Ramin Djawadi, and many more also make each season of this fantasy world more sumptuous and lush than the last.
There are also clever hints and clues about the series hidden in all of these people’s work, from the shape of Daenerys’s coat, to the detailing on her throne, to the musical motifs in the Season 7 soundtrack, which is now available online. The full collection of Djawadi’s Season 7 music includes tracks from Sunday’s super-sized finale, which gives fans one last shot at speculating what’s to come. You don’t need a degree in music to decipher these clues, but, in some cases, it might help.
We’ll get to some of the more nuanced clues Djawadi seeded into the music early in the season in a bit, but first, let’s briefly look at a few song titles from the finale that sound very intriguing. The tracks on the album are usually listed in order of when the tunes premiered in the season, so let’s take this chronologically.
To start: an ominous, booming song, track no. 21, called “No One Walks Away from Me.” The tracks are often named for pieces of actual dialogue, and you don’t need to be spoiled to know that there’s really only one person on the show who might say this—and likely only one person she would care enough to say it to. The snatches of “The Light of the Seven”—the show-stopping track that played during the Sept explosion last season—laced throughout the end of “No One Walks Away from Me” also provide a clue.
We’ve known all season that there’s trouble brewing in Cersei and Jaime’s incestuous twin paradise, but this track seems to confirm it.
On to track no. 22, “Truth.” This is a much gentler, swoonier track, which likely refers to the bombshell reveal about Jon Snow’s parentage (specifically, his Targaryen father) that most fans expect is coming in Sunday’s finale. What’s fascinating about this particular track is that it echoes an earlier Season 7 song, “Dragonglass,” which most fans are already referring to as Jon and Dany’s unofficial love theme. (More on that in a bit.) There is, for what it’s worth, another love-theme–esque track from last week’s episode titled “See You for What You Are,” named for Jon’s tender words to Daenerys. Yep: this is a couple so laden with destiny that they get more than one love theme.
So, what would Jon Snow’s parentage have to do with a love theme? Well, if Jon and Daenerys are about to make good on those burning glances Davos and Tyrion keep talking about, quite a bit. We know they’re nephew and aunt, but they don’t know that incestuous bit of Truth yet. Will this throw a wrench in the budding romance before it even gets started?
Truth be told, squabbling twins/lovers and conflicted aunt and nephew/lovers may be the least of our worries. The Season 7 soundtrack closes out with two haunting tracks: “The Army of the Dead” and “Winter Is Here.” The Night King and his army usually only show up about once a season to torment our heroes, but these tracks seem to indicate we might not have seen the last of them yet.
Before we go, it’s worth stopping for a second to admire the musical clues about Jon and Daenerys that Djawadi dropped very early on in the season. Brenna Noonan, a composer, and Game of Thrones fan, took the time a few weeks ago to dig a little deeper into the “Dragonglass” theme that played as Jon and Daenerys explored that Dragonstone cave in “The Spoils of War.” She shares, via e-mail, some observations on how this new Jon/Daenerys theme drew on a number of older tracks from the series, specifically: “Love in the Eyes” (the Dany/Drogo love theme), “You Know Nothing” (the Jon/Ygritte love theme), and the hummable opening credits song.
We first got to know those Dany-and-Jon love themes very early in the series, as the fated-to-be heroes found their first loves in Dothraki tents and northern caves.
Those themes, from the very beginning, also hinted at their central roles in the series. As Noonan points out, Dany’s original romantic theme, “Love in the Eyes,” starts on a droning G, while Jon’s Season 3 love song, “You Know Nothing,” starts on a droning C. Those two notes together, the droning G and C, also kick off the instantly recognizable Game of Thrones opening credits song. In other words, together, Jon and Daenerys’s love songs form the titular song of ice and fire.
Noonan goes on to note that all four tracks—“Love in the Eyes,” “You Know Nothing,” the opening credits, and “Dragonglass”—feature the same motif of E-F-G transposed up and down various keys. This could just be a coincidence of shared, common chord progressions (those magic changes), but Noonan also explains that all three love themes “feature a lot of stepwise motion, meaning there are few large leaps between intervals.” This, she observes, “brings a feeling of closeness, of steps leading and retreating seemingly nowhere, sometimes hesitant. This works well with the otherwise claustrophobic settings of Dany and Drogo’s tent, and Jon’s caves.”
Noonan concludes that while Jon’s song with Ygritte and Dany’s with Drogo “both occupy some form of the key of C pretty solidly” (a common, upbeat key), their love song with each other, “Dragonglass,” is in “D minor (Spinal Tap voice: the saddest key!).” This could refer back to what we said earlier about Jon and Dany’s love story being doomed before it has even started. (Then again, so were the love stories of Ygritte and Drogo.) Noonan also points out that some of the musical elements in “Dragonglass” gently clash at the start before resolving into a harmonious new love theme, resolving back down to the gentle key of C. “The parallels here to Jon and Dany’s burgeoning relationship are obvious (two people with disparate backgrounds, world views, and ambitions uniting toward a common goal), so I won’t belabor them,” she wryly observes.
“‘Dragonglass,’” she concludes, “is really a love theme for two damaged people who are desperately trying to put the pieces of their past back together and getting what is essentially a musical lithograph, a transference of memory and emotion. It is a song of ice and fire, but it is also a song of quiet desperation.” And here you thought it was just a pretty tune.
Spanish Game of Thrones fan Jordi Maquiavello also explored these parallels using video to draw the musical comparisons.
Dig into the rest of Djawadi’s layered musical themes with the full Season 7 soundtrack, available here.
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