Fantasy films and television have been the basis for some of the most memorable scores in history, and more are on display with the debuts of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” this week and “House of the Dragon” on Sunday.
Disney+ and HBO are, for the most part, keeping a lid on music until the shows premiere, but Variety got a preview of both from the composers themselves.
“I feel like every composer wants to, at some stage, write that big action-adventure score and get to work with an orchestra,” says Amie Doherty, composer of “She-Hulk,” the Marvel series with Tatiana Maslany as a lawyer who can also turn into a giant green-skinned super-being.
Doherty, the Irish-born composer who recently scored the animated “Spirit Untamed” and orchestrated many episodes of “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Umbrella Academy,” has secretly been toiling on “She-Hulk” for the past year.
The challenge, she says, was finding a central theme that she could apply to both sides of the character, along with creating music for the “really quirky characters” who are her clients. “It’s fun to get to dabble in that established Marvel sound while trying to bring something new and fresh and fun.”
Doherty says she doesn’t play the comedy. “It doesn’t need any help from the music, comedically. It’s all there on the screen; the music is just supporting.” It’s being performed by a 65-piece orchestra in Vienna, although she also describes the score as “hybrid” for its many synth and band elements “to give it that modern touch.”
Ramin Djawadi, the seven-time Emmy nominee who won two of the statues for his “Game of Thrones” music, returns to score “House of the Dragon,” a prequel set 200 years earlier and largely dealing with House Targaryen.
“Sonically, it will feel like ‘Game of Thrones,'” Djawadi confirms. “I wanted to create a continuation, an expansion, of the music,” he adds, and as before, he is using a 32-to-50-piece Prague orchestra for his recordings. The overall sound will differ slightly as he is adding woodwinds to the strings and brass that predominated during “Game of Thrones.”
Executive producer Miguel Sapochnik, who directed some of the most memorable “Game of Thrones” episodes including “The Long Night,” called the composer even before shooting began to ensure a continuity of musical moods and ideas. “When they sent over episode one, I immediately felt at home in that world again,” Djawadi says.
The issue of whether to start fresh with all new music or to keep the link to the original “Game of Thrones” score was “definitely a big discussion,” he adds. “We are in Westeros. There are familiar places. Yes, we have all new characters, but we wanted to keep the DNA. Some themes that we know from the original will show up, but there are going to be a ton of new themes, new material.”