April 2021 – Writing is Rewriting (Part 2)

Welcome to this month’s diary entry. I had planned to post this entry last Saturday but life got in the way somehow, and I even had to cut some material that was going to make it into this month’s diary. Still, there is some interesting I want to show you this month and it has to do with the process of rewriting material, so let’s get to it!

3rd Time’s The Charm

I have mentioned in past diaries that I try to avoid having to rewrite material I have uploaded as much as possible, simply because the cost of opening that door leads to infinitely readjusting old material, and as the project advances it just becomes unsustainable. And yet sometimes it is precisely what the doctor ordered. A good case is that of Renly’s leitmotif, which is now in it’s third iteration.

Renly’s original leitmotif had some things I liked a lot and somethings I was so thrilled about, but overall, I enjoyed the leitmotif in the context of the three Baratheon brothers. Renly’s main divergence from the Robert and Stannis was the fact that it was in A major instead of a minor, and there are some good reasons why I wanted it that way. The main reason is that it is much easier to create something welcoming and “shinny” in major than in minor. With Robert a seasoned warrior and Stannis a expert grinder of teeth, Renly is but a charming and dazzling young man, so the original theme was set in A major (fig. a).

Fig. a – Renly’s original leitmotif in A Major

But as it happens sometimes I made a mistake by not double checking the assumptions I had when I wrote the leitmotif. Somewhere in my mind it was obvious that all three Baratheon brothers are knights, when in fact, Renly is not a knight. This means that the knighthood motif (fig. b), represented by a triplet was very misplaced in the motif and needed to go.

Fig. b – Knighthood

I caught this mistake early this year and reworked the leitmotif to do away with the triplet while keeping as much as possible. The end result was a theme that kept the flashiness of Renly’s original theme at the expense of not sounding as close to Robert’s leitmotif (fig. c), which is something that bothered me a little, since Renly is supposed to look a lot like a young Robert Baratheon.

Fig. c – Renly’s modified leitmotif minus the knighthood leitmotif

But it wasn’t until I recently started to work on the Baratheon bastards seriously that I couldn’t justify anymore having Renly’s leitmotif in A Major and not a minor. A pivotal moment of “A Game of Thrones” comes with the reveal of the true fatherhood of Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen, whose leitmotifs are all in E Major. The dichotomy of the minor scale representing black hair and the major scale representing blonde hair is something I had in my mind for the longest time, but Renly’s A Major leitmotif kept throwing the whole idea off the rails. Eventually I bit the bullet and reworked Renly’s leitmotif in a minor, since consistency of Baratheon = a minor is more meaningful to me than Renly’s charming nature = A Major.

This third (and hopefully, final) version of Renly’s leitmotif (fig. d) relies more on orchestration to convey his dazzling but shallow persona, but it does for a more consistent and coherent set of leitmotifs, which takes precedence over pretty much anything else.

Fig. d – Renly’s final leitmotif now in a minor

Reweaving A Tapestry

So, why the fuzz over a simple rewrite?  Because when weaving a tapestry with leitmotif it is hard to replace one single thread without having to do a major rework of the whole thing. Renly’s leitmotif connects to other leitmotifs, most important of all Loras’ leitmotif, which is in C Major, and the amount of acrobatics I had worked on to fit them together meant that now I had to throw most of it away. This is a theme I had never finished, as every time I sat down to work on it new ideas came and went, but overall many hours had gone into tuning everything so that it came off nicely.

I want to clarify what this means in case you aren’t very familiar with music theory. Basically, all you need to know is that A Major is not harmonically close to C Major even though they can be connected using some cool tricks composers have used for centuries like pivot notes and secondary dominants. This use of the distant keys of A Major and C Major effect was something I was happy to have as to me it reflected Renly’s and Loras’ difficulties in sharing their love while keeping it a secret: their secret love was a fight that paid off for them in spite of its inherit challenges they faced. But now all of this was out the window and as such I needed to rework their love theme “The Rose Knight and the Stag” from the ground up. The good news is that a minor and C Major are basically the closest to tonalities could ever be, so I changed gears and reworked the idea from struggle to secrecy, which also works very well in context.

The new goal was to create a love theme from the point of view of Loras that hinted at a deep love for someone without it being too on the nose. Taking advantage of the fact that a minor and C Major share the exact same pitches, slipping in and out Loras’ leitmotif to insert a modified version of Renly’s leitmotif was the way to go. It took almost time to rework their love theme and have it finished in almost a personal record for myself; so at least I’m happy about that.

As Loras is the character from whom we see their relation, “The Rose Knight and the Stag” (fig. e) begins with Loras’ leitmotif (light blue notes) only to hear a version of Renly’s leitmotif (dark blue notes) in a rhythm that completely obscures its melody, but is still recognizable upon close listening.

I’m not alone in thinking that Loras has one of the most memorable moments in the whole series when he recalls Renly in A Storm of Swords – Tyrion II:

“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.”

Loras Tyrell
Fig. e -The Rose Knight and the Stag

I hope you enjoyed this month’s entry! See you soon!

Maester Ludwig

March 2021 – The Ironborn

Welcome to the Diary entry for March 2021! The time has finally come for House Greyjoy to join the roster of noble Westerosi houses and for the Ironborn to be included as one of the musical cultures of Westeros!

What is dead may never die

House Greyjoy shouldn’t be too difficult to write music for. After all, it is not larger than most other houses and all their members can be seen as stereotypical raiding Vikings, so writing some pirate-like music should do the trick, right? The reality is that House Greyjoy is proving to be more difficult than most other houses. One reason for that could be that there are four Greyjoy POV characters thus making them and the Lannisters contend for the title of second largest house by number of POVs.

And let me tell you that POV characters are way more difficult to write music for than non POV characters, as knowing exactly the train of thought of a character means having to write both music that is coherent from both the outside and inside perspective one has as a reader. I love writing music for characters like Loras or Oberyn since whatever might happen inside their heads is unknown to us, thus making it far easier to simply write music that matches our outside perception of them (this being that both are awesome). However, writing music that matches whatever our outside perception of Theon is with his internal monologue is, at least for me, a daunting task. And therein lies the problem. Theon’s character arc is so extreme that in order to write the most fitting music to it I need to plan in detail his entire leitmotif development before I can even consider working on other Greyjoy characters. And of course, this is a huge drawback since I have had leitmotif ideas for Balon, Victarion and Euron for years but I have never wanted to commit to any of them for fear that I would need to change them eventually.

As of late I have been feeling more confident about my ideas regarding the Greyjoys, with some ideas being finally cemented while others have been discarded wholesale. And perhaps I’m finally feeling more confident about Theon’s leitmotif and its development than ever before, because today I decided to upload the Ironborn music page I had written a year ago and a leitmotif for Balon Greyjoy I had come up almost two years ago. Hopefully I get to fill out the Greyjoy family tree in a timely manner, although I suspect Theon will still be the last one to finally take shape. In the meantime, I leave you with the Balon Greyjoy, the King Kraken.

Balon Greyjoy – The King Kraken

That’s all for this month. See you again in April!

Maester Ludwig

February 2021 – 1st Anniversary

Welcome to the Diary entry for February 2021 when Music of Ice and Fire celebrates its first anniversary, or the closest thing to an anniversary, since there won’t be another February 29th until 2024. The website, as it stands today contains 1 hour of music split into 39 tracks, all available in the Library. 18 main characters have had their leitmotifs uploaded and with exception of House Greyjoy and House Arryn the major houses of Westeros have had their pages published. I wish I could have uploaded more content, but all in all I am pleased with the progress but first and foremost I’m very pleased that the website is receiving regular visits.

Promise me

So, what can we expect from 2021? I wish I had obsidian glass to look past the here and now to tell but here is where I make some promises about what is to come.

First, as this is a website dedicate to music in the Song of Ice and Fire universe, I want to upload way more music. My goal for this second year is to have at least 3 hours of music before the website’s next anniversary, that is, to double the output of what I have doing so far. This is nothing if not ambitious but that’s the main goal.

Second, the website needs some visuals to accompany the music, so uploading illustrations to go along with the tracks is the second goal. As I mentioned last month, I have bought a tablet to get started with digital illustration and I am mostly positive about the results even if I need more time to get into the process; so, expect something in the upcoming months.

But how on Earth can I double the output of music and learn how to create illustrations at the same time? That’s what I’d like to know, but it certainly helps that I am taking a break between jobs. As this was a planned break and I have some savings in the bank my mind is at ease, so I want to use the extra time to give the website an extra push.

New Milestones

Today I am uploading some music that has taken me longer than I am willing to admit. Infanticide aside, Jaime Lannister is probably my favorite character, and has been probably the most difficult characters to write music for so far. The list of other grey characters that are difficult to write for also includes Theon Greyjoy and Daenerys Targaryen, which is why their leitmotifs are still under wraps. However, with Jaime I think the basic leitmotif is close enough to what I want it to be that I can upload it without second guessing myself. Another reason why Jaime’s leitmotif was so hard is that his leitmotif needed to be a perfect match to Cersei’s. Cersei might be a less grey and darker character than Jaime, but still full of nuances and character arc, so that wasn’t also easy. The need to balance the outer beauty of Cersei with her inner cruelty is a real challenge.

And so, The Twin Lions is a track that represents the births of Cersei and Jaime by combining the first notes of Cersei’s leitmotif (lower voice) with Jaime’s leitmotifs (upper voice) to create the leitmotif of life.

Fig. a – The Twin Lions

Whenever I have played this music to anybody the reaction has always been “Why would you have nice beautiful music for such horrible people?!” My answer is that these are not horrible people, or at least not yet: these are babies full of potential and their ending, while possibly dark, is unknown. My take on this music is that, while beautiful at first (or so I hope) it shows that Jaime’s leitmotif has the potential to be a heroic figure but Cersei’s own leitmotif eventually corrupts it.

Left to his own devices Jaime’s The White Lion leitmotif depicts a knight in all its splendor, or to quote Jon:

Ser Jaime Lannister was twin to Queen Cersei; tall and golden, with flashing green eyes and a smile that cut like a knife. He wore crimson silk, high black boots, a black satin cloak. On the breast of his tunic, the lion of his House was embroidered in gold thread, roaring its defiance. They called him the Lion of Lannister to his face and whispered “Kingslayer” behind his back. Jon found it hard to look away from him. This is what a king should look like, he thought to himself as the man passed.

JON I, A Game of Thrones.
Fig. b – The White Lion

Cersei is beauty but those with keen eyes can see underneath the surface.

His lord father had come first, escorting the queen. She was as beautiful as men said. A jeweled tiara gleamed amidst her long golden hair, its emeralds a perfect match for the green of her eyes. His father helped her up the steps to the dais and led her to her seat, but the queen never so much as looked at him. Even at fourteen, Jon could see through her smile.

JON I, A Game of Thrones
Fig. c – The Lioness

That’s all for now. I hope to see you again next month!

Maester Ludwig

January 2021 – Deadlines

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Douglas Adams

Welcome to the first diary entry for 2021! As the quote above suggests, my deadline for this month flew right by me. I had planned for this month’s entry to be all about knighthood and the kingsguards, tying it all together with real examples of how it all works together with Jaime’s and Lora’s kingsguard leitmotifs. Alas, my usual laundry list of tech related problems has somehow gotten bigger, and with a few hours left to publish this month’s entry I have made the last minute decision to not rush it and save them for next month, making Knighthood and Kingsguard the only new pages on the website this month.

The good news is that next Monday I will be getting new extra RAM sticks for my PC that will (hopefully) limit the amount of crashes I get per hour when rendering tracks, and the much-awaited graphic tablet to start adding illustrations to the site. So, this means Music of Ice and Fire’s 1st anniversary will see a lot of new content next month! (unless I blow the dead line again, as seems to be in keeping with our beloved George). See you then!

Maester Ludwig

December 2020 – Picking up where I left it

Welcome to the last diary entry of the year! Last month I talked about changing course and focusing more on non-character music for a while. Writing for locations, societies, objects, and concepts is turning out to be harder than I thought but progress is being made, though such is my luck that right now it is when I happen to have the most ideas for characters. In any case, this month The North sees the addition of the leitmotif of the Wall, which is itself a combination of motifs from the Children, the Others, and the Starks all packaged into an ever ascending series of chord progressions that seems to go on and on forever.

The Wall

Picking up where I left it

While I was getting ready to launch this website a year ago, I had originally intended to populate the website with art from many artists whose illustrations I have come to love. I approached some of them asking for permission to upload their art to this website but the answer was more often than not “I’m sorry but no“. Most often it came down to them not holding the rights of the illustrations they made, as they were commissioned by a third party who owned the rights to the illustrations, so even if they had wanted to let me use their illustrations it wasn’t possible. In the end I found myself with very limited options and a series of mismatched illustrations that didn’t have the tone I was looking for, so I decided to scrap the idea altogether; after all, this website was about the music of A Song of Ice and Fire and not about illustrations. And now, almost a year later, it has become quite apparent to me while that I need to pick up the idea of beautifying the website in some way.

A bit of backstory. In my teenage years I attended art school for two years and when I am the mood I still doodle a bit with some pencil or charcoal (which nowadays happens once or twice a year at most). So, in the process of trying to convince myself to pick up drawing again I decided to look around in my box-of-old-stuff-that-should-be-thrown-away-but-I-won’t-just-yet and found a couple of drawings from said period. They are nothing to call home about but at the time I felt quite accomplished that I managed to learn the basic principles of drawing.

While I was working on the Wall leitmotif I kept picturing the ice glistening under the sun and I kept thinking about how much I wanted that image on the website. Looking at my old drawings I think that with enough effort I should be able to create some art for this website that would make it come alive, even at the expense of having less time to write music. However, if having less time to write music and needing to dust off my drawing skills wasn’t bad enough I also feel the need to update myself and learn how to paint digitally with a graphic tablet. In the end it makes sense to go digital since it is much more versatile than traditional painting and I must admit after so many years without painting I feel as uncomfortable holding a brush as I do holding a digital pen, so why not just skip the brush altogether. I hope to get my hands on a new graphic tablet soon and start uploading some illustrations to the website some time next year. See you then!

Maester Ludwig

November 2020 – Not just characters

Welcome to November’s diary entry! For some time now, I have had the feeling that to write music for characters has been getting harder and harder. After a whole year working on House Stark, Targaryen, Baratheon, Lannister, Tully, Martell, Tyrell, Greyjoy… I am convinced I need to take a step back and let the creative juices replenish before I keep writing more characters. This means that for the coming months I’ll be focusing not on characters but on societies, places, objects and concepts. These are the five categories of leitmotifs I decided to work on when I started this project a few years ago and so far, I only have really devoted any time to the first one. So, in this entry I’ll talk a bit about what each category encompasses and what to expect.

Societies

Societies in ASOIAF are more than just people. Whether we call them organizationscommunities or institutions, these are bodies of people with a common denominator that brings them together in one way or another. Here we have religions, military organizations such as mercenary bands and knight orders, commercial entities like banks and traders, political councils, and a long etc.

As if having to create music for hundreds of characters wasn’t complex enough, then there is the question of bringing together those characters under one umbrella as members of a society. The Night’s Watch serves as a good example, with characters from all walks of life taking embracing one single identity, wearing the same clothes, eating the same food, and living under the same roof. The question of how to represent that unity for characters as different as Maester Aemon and Pyp, for example, is proving as difficult as it sounds. For the moment it is all coming together very slowly and one of the areas where I am most excited to work on since it is virgin territory to explore musically.

Concepts

Concepts are the free for all category of abstract ideas that do not exist in the physical universe of ASOIAF: death and life, magic, love, honor, etc. These leitmotifs are usually the simplest as they need to fit almost any modification and arrangement, but also need to work together with other leitmotifs to add new meanings. Some of these leitmotifs date back to the very beginning of this project, like the life and death leitmotifs.

These four (diatonically) consecutive ascending notes embody the essence of life, and by extension joy, creation, goodness, etc. By opposition, the four consecutive descending notes represent death, sorrow, destruction, evil, etc.

But how can 4 consecutive notes constitute a motif, I hear you ask? The answer is that they really don’t unless you take context into account. To find 4 consecutive notes is not hard at all in almost any piece of music so this is yet another reason why it takes me so long to write music. With very few exceptions I always try to avoid using 4 consecutive notes unless I am referencing some of these aspects, although they are rarely in the foreground. Usually they are hidden in the accompaniment or as a harmonic progression but in some exceptional cases they can be part of the melody as in the case of Oberyn Martell’s leitmotif.

Life and Death in Oberyn Martell’s leitmotif

The four notes descending at an uneven pace tell us that this man is not to be trifled with: he is dangerous. The four quick ascending notes also tell us that this man is full of vitality and enjoys life to the fullest. But the theme is not over yet, and the life theme is repeated one more time with a little twist at the end, where the very last note is a bit higher than usual, giving the life motif a bitter sweet ending, perhaps significant to how this character approaches life. There are similar uses of the life/death motif in many other character’s leitmotifs such as Robert Baratheon, Stannis and Renly Baratheon; Loras Tyrell, Tyrion Lannister, etc. so I won’t cover them all here. Suffice it to say that after repeated listening the association becomes clear enough that hearing four consecutive notes, either ascending or descending, should give the listener pause and make them ask themselves what is the music trying to tell us.

Places

Places are probably the easiest leitmotifs to work on in conceptual terms, as they represent a concrete physical location (at least on the page) and nothing else. At least in theory. In reality places are also associated with the events that took place there, their flora and fauna, and of course, the people who live there. The interweaving of leitmotifs of places into character leitmotifs makes it is hard to say where one begins and the other ends. Even some sketches and ideas that originally started as leitmotifs for places have ended up becoming characters who lived in those places. All in all, leitmotifs for places are usually much simpler than character leitmotifs precisely because they work via osmosis: the characters usually pick up these little quirks of the land in subtle ways that are usually only see under a magnifying glass. Staying a bit longer with Oberyn Martell’s leitmotif, let’s see if there is any of the Dornish leimotif in him.

The leitmotif of Dorne consists of a very simple undulating melody, almost devoid of any rhythm, where long-held notes evoke the endless and empty the desert.

Oberyn Martell’s leitmotif couldn’t be more different with its complex rhythms and fast notes. However, upon closer inspection a glimpse of the desert landscape is barely visible, with broken pieces of the Dorne leitmotif appearing like a mirage, never drawing attention to themselves but adding to the connection between Oberyn and his homeland.

Dorne in Oberyn Martell’s leitmotif

This subtle approach allows for a subconscious association between the two leitmotifs rather than a direct quotation: after all, the leitmotif is not “Oberyn Martell crossing Dorne”.

Objects

Objects can be incredibly simple or incredibly complex depending on the level of subjectivity of the object they refer to. The range here is quite broad, from anything belonging to a character such as weapons and clothing, to generic elements that need no subjectivity, like blood, poison and fire.

One might think that more personal objects might be harder to write than generic ones but I always have more trouble writing generic objects. I can write a dozen leitmotifs for poison in a (good) day and never pick any of them because they all are interchangeable and therefore meaningless. On the other hand, after a day of hard work spent on the Iron Throne (which is just an object despite being very, very big) I can have Aegon’s leitmotif wrought into it and feel satisfied that it represents the Iron Throne. Then I can repeat the process using Robert Baratheon’s leitmotif and have the Iron Throne during the age of the Robert I Baratheon rule and I also feel satisfied.

The Iron Throne of Aegon I Targaryen

Going back to how leitmotifs intertwine with one another. Let’s look at the accompaniment used for The Iron Throne of Aegon I Targaryen. The accompaniment in the low brass and strings outlines a very simple chord progression that repeats relentlessly, following the four note leitmotif of life, in this case symbolizing creation.

Creation in the Iron Throne of Aegon I Targaryen

I hope you enjoyed this month’s entry and you are looking forward to more diverse leitmotifs in the upcoming months. See you next month!

Maester Ludwig

Octber 2020 – Leitmotif Family Trees

Welcome to October’s diary entry. This month has been a very difficult one in the writing department. With every step I have taken forward I seem to have, somehow, ended up two steps back from where I started. Every little bit of music is scrutinized for consistency against an ever increasing amount of music, as the large picture is as important (if not more) as the small one.

For the longest time I had been thinking about how to organize the music of every house in Westeros in a way that was easy to keep track of. I ended up creating Family trees made of leitmotifs which I will be uploading to each Westerosi house. Many entries are still blank, but at least they give an idea of how complete the roster of each family is on the website. They come in handy to see the relation between members of each house as well as potential hidden links…

One important caveat is that the leitmotif representing a character on the Leitmotif Family Tree It is the simplest musical cue by which the character can be identified and does not necessarily encompass the entirety of the character musical arc. I have other documents to track the progress of a character’s musical progression that I’d rather keep under wraps.

As seen above in the Leitmotif Family Tree for House Stark, Jon Snow’s leitmotif has been uploaded to the website, which had been long overdue. See you next month!

Maester Ludwig

September 2020 – Writing is Rewriting

Hello and welcome to September’s diary entry. This month’s update will be on the briefer side as there are some bigger updates simmering in the back-burner that need more time to finish cooking. With that said, this month House Tyrell has been updated with Margaery Tyrell’s leitmotif and House Lannister with Tyrion Lannister’s leitmotif. 

One of my goals for the first year was to upload the leitmotifs of the main characters of the main Houses of Westeros, which is close to 50 different leitmotifs. So far, with 5 months left on the calendar there are 16 leitmotifs on the website, so quite short of the 30 that should have been uploaded by this time. One of the main causes of the delay is the constant need for revision of already written music and the thus the need to write and rewrite music that fits well enough into the tapestry already woven. There is nothing both more rewarding and frustrating as writing music that fits a character or a house better than the previous version. Having to review all the previous written music to see what needs to be adapted or simply discarded can be painful, although not as much as listening to music that is not as good as it could be.

But sometimes it is difficult to know how to feel about a new leitmotif right after it’s been written and I feel I need to sit on a it for a long time before I commit to it. For example, Tyrion Lannister’s leitmotif is one that I had to write and rewrite many times, putting each and every attempt aside and not listening to it for weeks (sometimes months), to see how I felt about it when I would eventually go back and listen to it again. The goal was always to create a leitmotif that resembled Tywin’s but with the right balance of slight mockery and casualness that make Tyrion who he is, and all without sounding silly or a parody.

The version that is finally uploaded today was written at least 3 months ago and had been ready to be uploaded for last month’s diary entry, but I wanted a bit more time and let the music win me over. A month later I can say that when I listen to it I can picture a cocky Tyrion at the beginning of A Game of Thrones, flailing his Lannister name left and right to get what he wants without a care in the world, but also a deeply hurt man who, if not careful, will become as bad as the father he mocks.

At the moment there are a score of leitmotifs in this musical limbo where they await to be either discarded, rewritten, or enshrined. Hopefully some of them will see the light of day soon enough. See you on the next diary entry!

Maester Ludwig

August 2020 – Instrumentation

Welcome to Ausgust’s diary entry. Plenty of new music has been uploaded to the website this month that won’t be covered here as it would make this entry way too long, so you can check for yourself the themes for Arya Stark and Bran Stark over at House Stark’s page; Stannis Baratheon’s theme which has been added to House Baratheon’s page; and the newest addition to the Westerosi Houses roster: House Tyrell, with the addition of Loras Tyrell’s theme.

What is instrumentation?

The main topic to cover in this month’s entry is that of instrumentation, which is the use of instruments and their combinations in a piece of music. So when a composer writes a piece of music they need to make decisions not only on what notes to use, their rhythm, harmonies, loudness, range, etc. but also which instrument will be playing the music. Hence, instrumentation (also referred to as orchestration) plays a crucial role in any piece of music, as the melody played on a flute will sound radically different compared to when played on a tuba.

Just as Westeros is made of kingdoms ruled by houses, the orchestra is made of sections ruled by families of instruments. There are 5 main sections in the orchestra: Strings, Woodwind, Brass, Keyboard, and Percussion. So for example, in the Woodwind section there is the family of the flutes, the family of the oboes, the family of the clarinets, and the family of the bassoons.

House Flute

House Oboe

House Clarinet

House Bassoon

One family of instruments wouldn’t be a family if there was only one member, so using House Flute as an example we can see their members here from top to bottom: the Piccolo Flute, the Concert Flute, the Alto flute, and the Bass Flute. (To keep it simple we will exclude other members of the flute family that are rarely heard, like the Soprano Flute, the Treble Flute, the Flûte d’amour, and the Contrabass Flute, among others)

Of course not everything falls neatly into a category, and just as in Westeros there are disputes over what territory belongs to what House, there are disputes over to what family and section and instrument belongs, but here we will keep as simple as possible.

Instrumentation in Westeros

After that introduction to the instruments of the orchestra we can focus our attention to how all of this applies to Westeros. Each kingdom in Westeros has not only a distinct culture and traditions, but also geography, climate, food, religion, and of course musical instruments. There are families of instruments strongly associate with some regions as we can see in the map below:

  • In The North, the Bassoon, with its low, deep earthy sound embodies the harshness of its climate.
  • In The Riverlands, the Clarinet’s reedy and mellow tone reflects the flowing of its rivers.
  • In The Vale, the Flute lightness and agility allows it to teach as high as high as the Mountains themselves.
  • The Crownlands and The Stormlands have, since the Targaryen Conquest of Westeros, relied on the Trombone to display the powerful and stately qualities of their Houses.
  • In The Westerlands, the brightness and intensity of the Trumpet shines as much as the gold from its mines.
  • In The Reach, the Horn has a warm and mellow sound that bathes the landscape.
  • In Dorne, the Oboe’s intense and piercing sound can become beautiful as an oasis in the desert.
  • In the Iron Islands, the violin’s open and calm sound can turn rough and menacing just as the sea itself.

This doesn’t mean that those are the only instruments used in those regions, far from it, but a connection can be made between the deep and woody sound of the bassoon that fits The North better than it fits The Westerlands, for example. This means that characters from a region will be distinguishable from others based not only on their leitmotifs, but also their instrumentation.

For example, members of House Tully tend to use instruments of the clarinet family as befits people from The Riverlands. A good example of this is Catelyn Tully, whose leitmotif is played by a Clarinet in B.

Fig. a – Catelyn Tully

As her children Robb, Sansa, Bran, and Rickon take after Tully look, their leitmotifs are also played by instruments of the clarinet family.

Fig. b – Robb Stark
Fig. c – Sansa Stark
Fig. d – Bran Stark

Arya Stark, taking after her father’s Stark look should have a bassoon playing her leitmotif, but instead it is an oboe who plays her theme. This is because Arya is still too young to fully embrace the deep and dark sound of the bassoon, and since the oboe and bassoon families are both double-reed instruments which share many qualities of their sound, the oboe will play her leitmotif for the time being. Another reason is that Arya, looking up to Princess Nymeria of Dorne, can be easily associated with the Oboe than any other instrument.

Fig. e – Arya Stark

As characters go through their arcs in their story so will the instruments that play their leitmotifs change. This brings another layer of difficulty when composing, but at the same time adds a layer of depth to the music with the goal of keep helping the listener to better understand and enjoy the music.

I hope this introduction to instrumentation was useful! See you in next month’s entry!

Maester Ludwig

July 2020 – Website update 1.2

Welcome to July’s diary entry. This month there has been a lot of effort into beautifying the webiste, expanding onto other platforms and of course new music.

A nicer browsing experience

Untitled

Last month there was a significant overhaul of the website in terms of tracks but now it was time for a more obvious overhaul in terms of appearance and usability… so a facelift has been done to make the website nicer to look at and easier to move around.

The long-winged introduction that used to cover the homepage has been moved into the About page, making way for a more useful homepage where you can now find links to the latest posts (boasting nice thumbnails) and playlists with music tracks to make for a nicer listening experience.

Also the search field  is easier to find now and links to Music of Ice and Fire on other platforms have been added, which brings us to…

 

Music of Ice and Fire on Youtube

UntitledThe YouTube channel is now online! There you can find videos of the music tracks with the nice addition of some notation if you want to follow along.

The video format will allow me to explore new ways to create media content so stay tuned!

Music of Ice and Fire on Twitter

Twitter

Some friends have been nagging me for a while about creating a Twitter account to make it easier to share news about the website and I have to admit I have dragged my feet about it but I’m going to give it a try and see how it works. From now on I’ll be announcing updates to the website on Twitter and anything else I can think of.

One more leitmotif

Of course none of this would matter if there weren’t new music uploaded to the website. I have spent a lot of time on new leitmotifs and ideas which usually means there are few tracks that make it all the way to being finished in time for the update. Sansa’s leitmotif is a good example of the leitmotif development I spend much of my time and energy into.

When we first compare Sansa’s and Catelyn’s leitmotifs the similarities are obvious but Eddard’s influence is not as clear at first glance. Just as we saw with Robb a few months back in May’s diary entry, Sansa favors her Tully side much more than her Stark side. In fact, the first two measures are almost identical, but her Stark side is hidden in plain sight if one knows where to look. Taking the last iteration of her leitmotif (32 seconds into the track from above) the ending of her melody shows clear signs of the Stark lineage. The slow descending notes could be seen either as Tully or Stark, but the last two notes that end the leitmotif are clearly the Stark trademark signature, the Wolf’s howl, which the leitmotif had been building up to but never committed to until now.

Next month’s update will be focused entirely on new music, where I hope to publish many new themes that carry on the theme of interconnected ideas between characters. See you then!

Maester Ludwig