June 2021 – Dragons

Welcome to June’s diary entry! This month’s update is quite significant for the website, as House Targaryen hadn’t seen an update since the release of the website. Without further ado, let’s talk about dragons.

The House of the Dragon

House Targaryen is the largest house in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe in terms of scope; boasting the largest cast of chacters the reader meets in the series. Also, their relevance in the story is unparalleled and thus, writing for the Targaryens is both the most fun and the most intimidating. This is one of the reasons why for the longest time House Targaryen’s page had remained barely fleshed with only Aegon I Targaryen’s leitmotif to show for.

But today I’m finally biting the bullet and forcing myself to upload more Targaryen content, starting with a simplified version of their lineage. This lineage includes all the Targaryen necessary to connect Aegon I to Daenerys and even in its simplified form it dwarfs any other house.

It also needed to include all the main dragons of the series ridden by those Targaryen in the lineage because as we will see, the bond between the Targaryen and their dragons cannot be overstated.

The Dragon’s Roar

At the top of the lineage is the leitmotif of House Targaryen, also known as the Dragon’s Roar (fig. a). This is indeed, the very first leitmotif I ever wrote many years ago (the second one being the Wof’s Howling), and it has remained the corner stone of every decision that came afterward.

Fig. a – The Dragon’s Roar

From the very beginning I made the decision that only members of House Targaryen could have the interval of a melodic fifth featured in their leitmotif, which was a watershed moment, as the fifth is one if not the most important interval in tonal music. Having all non-Targaryen characters banned from using the fifth created many limitations, but at the same time it gave all Targaryens a unique shared feature that made them easily stand out.

The only other leitmotif that comes close is House Baratheon’s Stag’s Bellows (fig. b), which is in fact an offshoot of the Dragon’s Roar as the Orys Baratheon was presumably a bastard of Aerion Targaryen; thus, the fifth gets inverted and becomes a fourth (more on inversion and bastards at a later time).

Fig. b – The Stag’s Bellows

Over time, the pieces started to fall into place and music was being written members of House Targaryen but one mystery remained unsolved, one that still plagues us to this day in 2021: the fate of Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons.

The First and Last Dragon

Approximately 99% of the pleasure of writing music for this series is creating connections and hiding them in plain sight. Listening to seemingly unconnected pieces of music and finding a link between them is the name of the game for me. And so, there most important connection to be made is the parallel between Aegon and Daenerys: One conqueror and three dragons for three dragon riders. Except that we don’t really know how Daenerys’ story ends. We know that she rides Drogon, but who will ride Rhaegal and Viserion? Or perhaps they will remain riderless? If Drogon is Balerion, who is Rhaegal; Meraxes or Vhagar? Will Drogon, like Balerion, be ridden by more than one rider? Will a non-Targaryen ride Rhaegal or Viserion?

For someone whose ideas comes directly from making these connections before sitting at the piano, it is incredibly difficult to move forward without any answers to these questions. In fact, when I started writing music for ASOIAF back in 2017 I had hoped to have at least some of these questions answered before I shared any of the music. Furthermore, ever since the launching of the website in February 2020 I had hoped to leave House Targaryen in a bare bones state until some of these questions get answers in the Winds of Winter. Nevertheless, the show must go on, and the time has come for House Targaryen to get more music.

After many, many, iterations I arrived to some musical conclusions that I am almost convinced will work regardless of how some of the questions are answered. Daenerys Stormborn is Aegon the Conqueror, and Balerion is Drogon. Everything else, including R+L=J and the Griffin’s Son spurs from that first building block. With that in mind I can start going down the path of associating the leitmotifs of dragons to their riders, and build from there. Balerion’s (fig. c) leitmotif is one of the very first leitmotifs I wrote and it has always been associated with Aegon the conqueror (fig. d).

But there is an interesting chicken and egg situation when a leitmotif is shared by two subjects. Is the leitmotif originally Balerion’s or Aegon’s? Well, in this case it is very simple to assume that since Balerion comes from old Valyria it was Aegon who was influenced by Balerion when he became his rider. Thusly, as one cannot conceive of Aegon conquest to have happened without Balerion, it is Balerion’s leitmotif that works as a springboard for Aegon’s leitmotif to come into being.

Fig. c – Balerion the Black Dread
Fig. d – Aegon the Conqueror Targaryen

The same is true of Drogon’s leitmotif (fig. e) and Daenerys’ leitmotif (fig. f) except that this time we move backwards. Daenerys is not only older than Drogon, she is Mother of Dragons for a reason, and she is the one who influences Drogon’s leitmotif. This relation might not be as strong as Balerion’s and Aegon’s one, but for now it is enough to have planted the seed and to let these two leitmotifs grow closer as the series progresses.

Fig. e – Drogon
Fig. f – Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen

I do have the leitmotifs for Vhagar, Meraxes, Rhaegal, and Viserion with the corresponding leitmotifs for their riders and presumed riders, but for now this is all I feel comfortable sharing, as the further one moves away from Daenerys the shakier it all gets. So, for now, this one very simple leitmotif of Daenerys as we meet her in her first POV chapter will have to do.

I hope you enjoyed this diary entry and to see you in the next one!

Maester Ludwig

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