The launch trailer for Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season is here, and with it comes a wide range of suspenseful sonic design to placate the the senses before its premiere in April.
Getting right to it, we hear a blaring synth at 0:07, a technique that will be familiar to horror buffs. A markedly different sound arrives a moment later, sounding more like a large bell, giving way to each line of monologue that follows (“I know death / he’s got many faces / I look forward to seeing this one”).
Next, we hear choral voices in tandem with the title card for the date (April 14th). It’s a cluster chord: it appears to begin on the major third in a major key, followed by a tone down, then a minor third up from there, and finally the tonic / “home” note, only then to shift to a minor chord, subtly adding in strings. It imparts a subtly ominous yet also mystical atmosphere befitting both the trailer and the series as a whole.
0:42 offers a revamp of the instrumentation again as we hear bowed strings and faster harmonic rhythm along with the line “home”. The score builds and builds without reprieve or a sense of harmonic resolution, again reflection the dialogue (“the enemy doesn’t tire / doesn’t stop”). At 1:05 we finally hear something resembling a penultimate chord, as the major dominant chord in the harmonic minor key is used. A tasteful pause precedes its expected resolution at 1:10, which dovetails with the main action sequence midway through the trailer.
Much more expansive chords and tubular bells reinforce the gravity of the situation in this second half of the trailer as a montage ensues, and the arrangement builds even further, reaching its apex at 1:30 along with the fitting visual of a dragon’s fire.
The final title card and a reminder of the date (notably, the date is included twice here) close things out in silence.
This first foray for the Games of Thrones Season 8 campaign uses a typical epic trailer form — the slow build. The key, which this trailer accomplishes, is to maintain the build at a pace and rate that maintains, and ideally builds, anticipation and excitement appropriate to the drama on screen. Through the use of prolonged resolution and key marker points for the entry of particular instrumentation and textures (such as articulated strings or tubular bells), this trailer’s score achieves these goals in suitable, if not particular remarkable manner.
Still, for a franchise as large as Game of Thrones, the trailer is not necessary a venue for experimentation, and as such craftsmanship of its audio is, pardon the pun, very sound.
— Curtis Perry