February 2022 – The Old Bear

Welcome to a February’s diary entry… in March! Just when I was getting ready to celebrate the third anniversary of this website life decided to throw some curved balls in my general direction and I had to put the update in the back burner for an extra week. Anyway, better late than never, here is this month’s new theme!

This year I want to upload more music belonging to characters from some Noble Houses that are not main characters, and to whet our appetite we will start with Jeor Mormont..

The Old Bear

The Old Bear is a succinct but noble theme and full of ‘northerness’. The contrabassoon begins the slow and gruff march in the low register, building up higher in the register and dynamics as the bassoon and strings join the march.

The keystone in this theme is the bear leitmotif, who those familiar with the song The Bear and the Maiden Fair from this website might recognize it as an ascending third. Now, this interval is way too common an interval to use it as the leitmotif for House Mormont, but it still takes centerstage as it piles up on itself moving up and down the minor pentatonic scale of the First Men (even if the entire theme only uses four pitches).

Something important about this theme is that it is not the Jeor as we meet him in the books. This is the him as Lord of Bear Island and head of House Mormont; it’s a lord’s theme, not a commander of the Night’s Watch theme.

A couple of entries back I talked about how I like to write themes for characters thinking about their arc progression and development, and Jeor Mormont is no different here. At some point in the future I will upload Jeor’s theme as Lord Commander, ‘The Old Black Bear’, but I liked this theme for him too much to not share it here. I hope you like it too!

There is still a diary entry for March in the making,so see you in a few weeks!

Maester Ludwig

January 2023 – The Little Wolf

Hi there! This year the goal is to write and upload as much new music as possible and although I have only managed to finish two new themes in January, those two have been incredibly satisfying to finally see them come through.

This month’s new theme is sadly neither of those two but one I had procrastinated long enough to upload. With Rickon Stark’s theme on the website now there are only two Stark themes missing (those would be Benjen and Brandon in case you are wondering)

The Little Wolf

Rickon’s theme is the most playful of all the Stark themes, of course; very childish and a bit vexing at times as three-year olds can be. The mix of Stark and Tully is at the foreground, as is the case for Rickon’s full siblings Robb, Sansa, Arya, and Barn, but the simplicity of it allows for a lot of room for growth.

I hoped you enjoyed this little theme and I also to see you in February’s s diary entry!

Maester Ludwig

December 2022 – The Other Mockingbird

Happy New Year! In this last diary entry of the year I want to share with you the other side of the Mockingbird we saw last month.

Last month I uploaded a track called the Mockingbird, Petyr Baelish’s theme as we meet him in “A Game of Thrones”.  It was a theme depicting Littlefinger’s cunning and conniving persona.

The Mockingbird

This month I wanted to peel back the curtain and show you the original track that came before the Mockingbird, what I call “The Infatuated Mockingbird”.

The Infatuated Mockingbird

Maybe I’m the only one but to me Petyr’s story is a very tragic one. A young boy, barely fifteen, challenging an older an experienced fighter to a duel to win the hand of the woman he loves… and we all know how that story ended.

In my eyes Petyr Baelish died that day. The Littlefinger we know has nothing in common with Petyr except the memories of that day. It was important for me to capture that in a separate theme for Petyr, once that could evolve and corrupt it even. This is that theme that was misguided, naive and was destined to a bitter end.

The original theme is played an octave higher and the melody seems to soar with a less airy sound quality to the flute, a brighter sound. The theme plays through the lens of hindsight, full of foreshadowing and so it has a tragic mood to it. The Tully leitmotif is featured from the first bar and yet the love theme is never heard. It was writing this piece that I gained a whole new appreciation for the tragedy of Petyr Baelish.

The Infatuated Mockingbird

I hope you liked this entry’s theme and I hope to see you again in 2023 when I plan to upload as much music as I humanly can. Happy New Year everybody!

Maester Ludwig

November 2022 – The Mockingbird

Welcome to the second to last diary of the year! Today I´m uploading a theme for a character I thought I´d never be able to write: a character too hideous to deserve any sympathy but with a tragic backstory that, at least in my eyes, deserves some pity… or perhaps not.

The Mockingbird

For the longest time Littlefinger had been a difficult theme to approach. It needed to be ambiguous but not vague, and cryptic but not mysterious. The theme needed to reflect the scheming nature of Littlefinger without being too on the nose, rather subtle, subtle enough to pass for innocent at times but always unnerving.

On top of that the theme needed to have a redeeming quality of some sort as I see Petyr as a very tragic figure. No one could deny he is a self-serving ambitious murdered, but there was a time when he was a naive boy who believed he could win the hand of his beloved in a duel.

The transformation of Petyr into Littlefinger is something I have put a lot of effort into, but today I´m only showing the latter of the two themes, closer to the character we meet in A Game of Thrones, when the reader is weary but still uncertain of the true nature of the Master of Coin.

I hope you enjoyed it and I hope to see you next month in the last diary entry of the year!

Maester Ludwig

October 2022 – The Lions of the Stag

Welcome to this month’s diary, where we have two new themes to add to Houses Baratheon or Lannister, depending on your point of view. I’m of course talking about Myrcella’s and Tommen’s themes to complete the trio of siblings who bear the Stag and Lion sigil.

Both themes walk the fine line between Baratheon and Lannister, combining elements of both and balancing the leitmotifs of both houses. The Baratheon leitmotif is the first leitmotif heard in both themes but the Lannister leitmotif is clearly more abundant, I wonder why…

The Sweet Lioness

Myrcella Baratheon is beautiful as her mother but with none of her spiteful nature. Her theme plays out slowly, with  long sustained notes and a softness uncommon for a Lannister

The Little Lion

Tommen is everything his brother Joffrey is not: a boy with a good heart who enjoys playing with his kittens rather than gutting them.

This is all for this entry. Rather short but to the point. You can find more details and a breakdown of these themes in the People’s portion of the book Music of Ice and Fire. I’ll see you next month with more themes from characters from great Houses!

Maester Ludwig

September 2022 – The Khal

Welcome to this month’s diary entry where we’ll have a look at Khal Drogo’s theme and how it differs from our Westerosi themes.

The Dothraki

In the Societies page there is an entry dedicated to the Dothraki culture where we breakdown the basics of their music. There we saw how the Dothraki music is very percussion driven but there wasn’t much in the melodic department except for the statement that all their melodies are based on the pentatonic modes.

Expanding on that concept we have the same 5/4 rhythm we already heard played by three instruments of Middle Eastern origin: The Tombak, The Daf, and the Riq.

  • The Riq is a tambourine of Egyptian origin large zills that allow for very finger playing on them.
  • The Tombak is a type of goblet drum of Persian origin capable of an astounding range of sounds and effects only surpassed, in my opinion, by the Indian Tabla.
  • The Daf is a type of frame drum, also of Persian origin, with hundreds of little metal rings attached to the frame giving it a very characteristic sound.

The three instruments combined can create a diverse yet cohesive ensemble where the different ranges of the instruments complement each other rather nicely; with the daf providing a solid bass texture, the riq adding a rich high end to the mix, while the Tombak brings it all together.

What’s a new addition to the mix is the Mongolian horse-fiddle, or Morink Khuur. This cello-like instrument made of horse hair and played by Mongolian horsemen for millennia was bound to make its way to the Dothraki theme somehow.

The Khal

The music for Khal Drogo features a full string section playing ponticello, a technique that creates a harsher sound than what we are used, accompanied by the percussive ensemble of Riq, Tombak, and Daf. The minor pentatonic scale plays in the key of F♯, a key never used in any other theme and reserved exclusively for the Dothraki and Lhazareen.

That was all for this month. I hope to see you in the next one!

Maester Ludwig

August 2022 – Summer Break

Welcome to a most delayed (and perhaps a bit procrastinated) diary entry! This past month I took a very long and nice break from work, which is great, but I also happened to be very far from home and my piano. Since there was little I could do music-wise I decided to work on a project not related to A Song of Ice and Fire (which is very odd for me). I spent a few weeks working on a board game idea I had a couple of years ago and I’m incredibly pleased with it; now I just need to play it!

Coming back home last week I still had another week off before going back to work so I dusted off another idea I had but this time ASOIAF related: after having finished the current intro with the book and the table I thought it would be great to have the camera pull back and show the surroundings as we flip through the pages, but it shelved the idea for the time being… until now!


The book now has transitions between regions where we can see a panoramic view of the area and hear the atmosphere around us. It doesn’t sound like much but it helps a lot to give the whole thing some depth. I hope you like it! And now back to writing new music; see you in the next diary entry!

Maester Ludwig

July 2022 – Pirate Music

Welcome to July’s diary entry for 2022. In this aestival period we dive into the water’s of the Iron Islands to find ourselves some pirate music, but first we need to ask ourselves one question…

What is pirate music?

Glad you asked, but this is a pointless question since there is not such thing as pirate music. What there is though are works of music featuring pirates, and that’s as far as one can go. Let’s have a look at one of the oldest examples of pirate music in Wagner’s ‘The Flying Dutchman’.

A time signature of 6/4, a yo-ho-ho melody in the brass, and lots of tremolo on the strings, but nothing else stands out as piraty, and yet, one cannot deny it feels incredibly appropriate.

Let’s jump forward a few years and listen to a classic tune from ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’:

The time signature is 4/4 and there aren’t really instruments as much as there are ‘roles’ but it sounds ‘piraty’, and that is yet again due to context. Something this tune has that Wagner’s didn’t is a singable quality, almost like a call and response that goes back to the sea shantys sung by sailors at sea. Here’s an example of such a shanty:

I wrote an storm shanty for the the Ironborn a few years ago to that I wish I could have performed by real singers one day, but for now virtual instruments will have to do:

Storm of steel the iron born are coming for you
Yo-Ho-Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho

Storm of steel we take what we want ’cause with iron we pay,
Yo-Ho-Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho-Ho-Ho

Storm of steel we’ll take your life, your wife, your child,

Storm of steel and you can hide, but not from the sea,
Yo-Ho-Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! YO-HO-HO-HO-HO!

With all this context in mind let’s now take let’s take a look at house Greyjoy, specifically at Balon and Theon Greyjoy.

The Krakens

I uploaded Balon’s Greyjoy leitmotif as King of the Iron Islands some time ago. I was written in a more Wagnerian style of pirate, with lots of strings (although no brass) a 3/4 time signature and a yo-ho-ho tune.

The new theme in this diary entry is Theon Greyjoy’s theme as Ned Stark’s ward, and it couldn’t be any more different in style than Balon’s.

In fact, it is much closer in style to the jolly pirate music of ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’, and it took me a long while to finally realize that both tunes share indeed a few aspects, most notably a pickup note followed by a rest and a descending line that moves up by a second at the end.

‘The Secret of Monkey Island’ theme

Subconscious borrowing? Perhaps, but in reality the line is actually derived from Balon’s own theme and shares many more aspects with it than with the videogame tune. The right combination of playful arrogance and cockiness mixed with a bit of uncomfortable suspicion is something that took me a long time to find given I had to stay close to the Ironborn leitmotifs and the link between Balon and Theon. This being Theon’s first leitmotif the theme will grow a lot in future incarnations past the stage of jolly pirate tune and into darker settings.

That’s been all for today. I hope you join me again next month to listen to new character themes. See you then!

Maester Ludwig

June 2022 – All the Great Houses

Hello and welcome to Maester Ludwig’s diary entry for June! This one is long overdue (and a couple of days later than I wanted) but after a long drought of new music the time has finally come to have all the Great Houses all Westeros represented in the book.

House Arryn

The leitmotif for House Arryn was written years ago but sometimes it’s better to let things simmer for a while and come back to them and see how you feel about them.

Years might sound like a lot but it wasn’t until I wrote (and rewrote) Jon Arryn’s theme that I found the leitmotif to work well.

And here is the updated video with the breakdown of the theme.

I’ hope you join me again next month when I’ll have more themes from Great Houses of Westeros!

Maester Ludwig

May 2022 – Finally

Welcome to the diary update for May 2022! Ever since October I have been working on the transition to video format for the website. It has taken longer than I wanted (and expected) but it’s finally over! From the dozens of pages with text, images, and audio, to only four pages: People, Societies, Places, and Objects. Let’s look at the present and future of Music of Ice and Fire in more detail!

The New Chapters

Creating the format was a real toil but then having to keep making changes and updates as I went over each and every piece I added to the file almost did me in. More times than I dare to admit I would finish working on a page and then realize how much better it would look if I used a different layout or changed the style of the animations. Then it would bug me  until I made the changes, which meant going back and redoing so much stuff it would take me weeks to get back to where I was. But at least today I can say I feel satisfied with the results. Right now the total running time for all 4 videos (aka chapters) is 90 minutes long. The longest videos are by far People and Societies, with the new chapters Places and Objects only a few pieces long; although the idea is to keep updating the videos with more videos even if it is slowly. The good news is that they are least published and the website looks and feels closer to the way wanted it to be in terms of content and presentation; not great, not terrible.

Back to Writing

And so now I can finally go back to writing music. Before today, every time I wanted to sit and write some new music I couldn’t do it. I knew that if I went back to writing music even for one day I’d not want to go back to finishing the template so I had to finish it. But now the wait is over and I look at my piano with new eyes: today I sat down at the piano for the first time in months with nothing on my mind except enjoying coming back to it, and after having gotten over the fact that 6 months without playing have made me rustier than I’d want to admit, I know I’ll get back into my old piano routine in no time. I’m looking at the hundreds of themes I want to write for characters, societies, places, and objects and I’m filled with joy. At last!

For the rest of the year I want to do nothing but add more themes to the chapters, although the process from “idea” to “website” will take longer than it used to. Before it was a two step process: Writing the theme at the piano and rendering the audio file with Finale. The first one would take however long, from a hours to months. The second one would never take longer than a weekend. Now there is the new third step of adding a page to the book. And this is sadly a long step; definitely longer than the second, but it is what it is. So expect new themes coming to the website but beware it won’t be a torrent of new pieces. For now I want to keep adding characters of the great houses of Westeros, especially Targaryen, Greyjoy, Martell, Arryn, before I move on to secondary houses and so on so forth.

And all of this while I resume my studies as a visual artist, which I also put aside to complete the videos, but I haven’t given up on the idea of illustrating the videos with drawings and paintings of my own. But more on that another day. I hope to see you in next month’s diary!

Maester Ludwig