Why this violinist wants to change the theme song to 'Game of Thrones'

The World
Updated on

Before the Lannisters and Starks face off in HBO's hit TV show, "Game of Thrones," a churning theme song with deep melodious cello plays.

The theme song was composed by Ramin Djawadi. He's also the man behind the scores for the blockbuster film, "Iron Man," and the TV show, "Prison Break."

For most viewers, that sound is a guarantee of an hour of nail biting excitement.

But for a trained musician's ear, something isn't quite right.

Acclaimed violinist Lara St. John first noticed it the very first time she tuned in to the TV show. After the third episode, she was fed up.

"I was just like ‘how could they do that?’" St. John asks.

According to St. John, the theme song doesn't sound genuine. Although a real cellist may be involved in the early stage, an engineer modifies and re-creates the original scale in another key.

The result resembles a computer-generated, digitally-synthesized track, as opposed to a real musician.

For a professional string musician, it's nothing short of a travesty.

"There’s no sense of melody or flow," St. John explains. "For a string player, it’s what's in between the notes. The way I could probably describe it best, is if you heard your favorite song sung by your GPS machine."

St. John says that she isn't the only one to notice the theme. “I’ve heard from about 20, 30 cellists that said ‘Oh my gosh, same thing, I have to fast forward over the opening theme.'"

As an award winning violist and record label owner, St. John takes the issue personally. She says that having a computerized theme song on a major tv show "gives credence to the fact that one might be able to replace live musicians with computer-generated, horrific, supposed, musical lines."

Finally fed up, St. John took it upon herself to change that. She enlisted the help of cellist Rubin Kodheli, and set out to re-record the iconic song.

Then she wrote an open letter to HBO, begging them to use her version instead of their current cut of the theme song. It's now available on her blog as a rallying cry to fans.

And, her four-foot-long pet iguana, Cain, also makes a special appearance in the video she's made to accompany the new recording.

She and Cain are devout fans of the series. They hope that their new version will make an appearance, especially because she's offering the cello rendition to HBO, free of charge.

"We want them to change so we can start watching it again, because I’ve had to boycott the series out of principle," she says.

*Updated: Following publication of this story, HBO officials reached out to The World with the following statement. "There has been live cello on all recordings and on the series opening itself.  Apparently, Lara found a version online which was not ours and made her argument based on that incorrect version." 

Below is the official HBO opening to "Game of Thrones." Do you think the HBO version has live musicians? Which version of the theme to you prefer? Let us know in the comments.

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