If you’d been waiting patiently for more swords and sorcery adventure told through a sweeping animated saga, then November 22 must have been an early Christmas. Netflix’s The Dragon Prince returned that day, continuing a story that was overflowing with action, drama and even a few twists along the way. Visually stunning, The Dragon Prince is more than just a feast for the eyes.
On an audio level, it’s a blockbuster of sweeping fantasy tracks and intimate moments of character-building. It is the soundtrack of dragons and royalty, unlikely heroes and unexpected villains. You can thank Emmy Award-winning and Annie Award-nominated composer Frederik Wiedmann for that distinct sound, that orchestral magic that has helped The Dragon Prince develop over the last few years and emerge as one of the more popular new series in recent memory.
There’s a lot of work that goes into the development of each soundtrack for the show, subtlety that only shows itself once you delve deep into the score and play it on a loop. We had some questions for Wiedmann regarding just how he managed to craft that amazing selection of music that built on previous work while introducing brand new themes, and the music maestro had a few answers for us.
How do you take an established soundtrack and build further on it? I can only imagine how challenging it must be to remain faithful to the sound you created while adding something new to the mix.
Imagine this is like a cooking recipe. You’ve got your main ingredients, that you’ve used to make some good meals with (in my case my core themes/melodies that I established in S1&2). Now you’re adding MANY new spices and flavours to it, to cook something entirely new. Since the story took on such epic proportions, it presented a wonderful opportunity to push the music even larger in orchestration and size, and also expand on all existing themes, giving them variations, even additional side melodies to compliment the existing ones.
I wouldn’t really call it difficult per se, since all tonal elements were already introduced. It’s more like the third part of a symphony, where you simply expand on your ideas, while maintaining the integrity of the sound.
Were there any primary emotions you wanted to highlight in season 3 with your soundtrack?
I think in this season our heroes become braver, more courageous and they also take more risks. In that sense, I tried to steer the music more towards that, almost becoming “Superhero-like” in certain parts. Also of course there was a very important and “new’ romantic element in Season 3, which certainly created an invitation for some beautiful and tender moments.
On top of that is the development of our villains, all of which are pushed further into the darkness, and therefore the score had to follow.
What was the process like working with Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond on the latest season? Did they have a specific sound design they wanted to push or were you given complete freedom to create the soundtrack that you had in mind?
Generally, the process was me meeting with the creative team to discuss the “Spotting” of each episode as they become finished or “locked”. We would sit down and discuss the ins and outs of the music, as well as the dramatic intent. Sometimes these discussions were very specific, down to the choice of particular instruments, sometimes more broad strokes. Then I would write the score for the entire episode within 1 week (typical TV schedule), and then present for notes/feedback before delivering the final version.
Throughout the process, I always felt that I was given plenty of creative freedom to really bring something from my heart to the table. As a composer, it is crucial to work in a creative space that gives you an opportunity to try new things, be bold and bring out the best possible score result. Feeling 100% comfortable to fail is key for this, and in this case I was always able to bring my personal take to each episode, which was always very welcome by the creatives.
What were some of your favourite and most unusual instruments that you used to help create the sound for this latest season?
Two instruments come to mind. We get to dive in deeper into the Moon-Shadow Elves world, and since I set up the Celtic fiddle for Rayla as a representative instrument, I was super excited to develop them further. King Harrow is another character that we start to learn a lot more about, especially about some of the darker secrets he has. We introduced the Cello as one of his key instruments early on in Season one, and in season three I took that idea and went a lot further with it, and a lot darker.
Very exciting to have such deep characters to compliment with music.
There are a lot of solo instrument moments in the soundtrack that help flesh out a character further in The Dragon Prince, are there any of those tracks in particular that you’re proud of?
I think my favourite tracks in Season 3 are titled “Ghost Feather”, “My Love, My Hope”, and “Leap” from the Dragon Prince Soundtrack. All of these feature wonderful solo performances for all of my key solo instruments like my solo cello, solo fiddle, Piano, Armenian Duduk and various flutes.
If I wanted to get someone to watch the saga of The Dragon Prince and could only use one of your tracks to do so, which one would you recommend?
Oh my goodness – that’s a hard question. I would say “Leap” from Season 3 is a great one to represent the essence of the score. It has driving action, darkness, hope, heroism and sweet tender moments, just like the show.
The Dragon Prince is out right now on Netflix. If you haven’t had a chance to experience it, there’s no time like the present!
In the magical land of Xadia, magic comes from six primal sources: the sun, moon, stars, sky, earth and ocean. When human mages create a seventh kind of magic — dark magic — they start capturing and harvesting the unique magical creatures they need as ingredients, which sparks a war between Xadia and the Human Kingdoms. Three kids from opposite sides of the conflict — two princes and an elven assassin sent to kill them — discover a secret that could change everything and decide to join forces and go on an epic journey.
That trek could be their only hope of ending the war and restoring peace to both worlds.
Last Updated: December 4, 2019