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Dear George,

I think "A Song of Ice and Fire" is a masterpiece of story telling, and I'm thrilled to see the television adaptation. With the incredible cast you have, the ideal locations, the talented writers and directors and a superb network like HBO, it seems like the show may very well end up being a masterpiece as well.
I'm writing you because I really want the show to be as good as the books and I believe strongly that the one thing that could, in the end, make the difference between a good show and a work of art often fails to receive the kind of inspired attention it deserves. THE MUSIC!! All too often the people making shows or movies of various genres hire a dull composer to write dull and predictable music that scores the action the same way a million other productions in the same genre have. Fantasy can be the worst. The music is usually something with the modal, English flavor of Vaughn Williams with a certain saccharine harmony that sounds like the worst kind of James Horner (you know, one of the standard and widely imitated blockbuster film composers,) and all the war scenes have trumpets and tympani and when bad people are on the screen they play bad people music and when something funny and lighthearted is happening they play funny lighthearted jolly music with flute and a hopping bass line and a little triangle sprinkled in, and after bittersweet victory they play, well, bittersweet victory music and so on and so forth and PLEASE DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN!! I imagine you guys are more high brow than that shit, but I've seen some pretty marvelous film makers choose the most awful music.

I know, I know, you're the writer and you don't even get to choose the music, but I'm sure you must have some influence...

My thoughts for the show...

First of all, allow the dialogue and characters to speak for themselves. Don't let let the show fall into the trap of milking emotional content with emotional music. It makes for BAD TV.

I say, use music sparingly, but when we do hear music, let our ears be filled with the raw organic sounds of REAL medieval and renaissance instrumental music. Have you heard groups like ensemble unicorn play music from 13th century Jerusalem? This music is so fierce and so riveting, and it's all on these very course-sounding ancient instruments, with throaty drones and raw drumming and haunting melodies. It could be perfect for the music of the Free Cities. Or if you don't use the real thing, find a composer who knows the stuff, and could write interesting music for unusual instruments. In the Dothraki camps, people should be pounding strange rythms on horse-skin drums, and this could be the soundtrack to Dany's relationship with Khal Drogo. In the Seven Kingdoms, there could be music on shawms and hurdy-gurdies and rebecs and horns playing at all the parties...
The songs of love and chivalry which Sansa loves so much, they could be real lute songs from the 1500's! None of that stuff is copyrighted, and so much of it is anonymous anyway.

I could write a long list of specific suggestions but i just want you to hear the heart of what I'm saying:
Think what an unusual flavor artful scoring choices would lend the show. It wouldn't matter so much to your fans, but this key difference could bring in a whole new kind of audience. I really really think so. Have you hired a music coordinator?

Thanks for reading


Leo Tolkin

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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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