The show, which premieres on Netflix December 20, centers on monster hunter Geralt of Rivia, (Henry Cavill), a mutant who gets wrapped up in a spiraling plot of political intrigue and visceral action. Crafting a score for “The Witcher,” which is based on the hit novels of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, was no small task, and composers Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli spent much of the last year working on soundscapes to do all the monsters, mutants, and mayhem justice. The duo previously collaborated on several other television projects, including scoring “The Romanoffs” and “The Mist.”
“Geralt of Rivia” is one of the first pieces of music viewers hear in “The Witcher,” and it is set to become one the series’ most identifiable elements. Every episode’s title sequence features an arrangement of the theme, and the track will vary depending on the overall tone and soundscape of each episode.
As a recurring piece of music, “Geralt of Rivia” needed to be immediately inviting to series viewers but also flexible enough to allow for darker variations during the series’ more foreboding moments, according to Belousova.
“The audience needs to want to immediately embark on adventures with Geralt,” Belousova said. “And because every opening sequence is different, musically, everything needs to vibe with the overall soundscape of each episode. In the first episode, ‘Geralt of Rivia’ is big, powerful and triumphant, but in other episodes it might be much darker.”
Though the Netflix series marks the first time “The Witcher” has been adapted into an English-language television show, the franchise has enjoyed great success in the world of video gaming recently thanks to popular titles such as 2015’s “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.”
Belousova and Ostinelli said that they did not research the older music associated with “The Witcher” franchise while composing music for the Netflix series, but longtime fans will likely consider its music to be faithful to the world that Sapkowski’s characters live in without treading old ground. Belousova and Ostinelli used numerous instruments to compose the score of “The Witcher,” and “Geralt of Rivia” features virtuosic violin, lute, erhu, breaths, xun, dulcimers, psaltery, harmoniums, and a wide variety of percussion and drums. Belousova performed vocals throughout “Geralt of Rivia” and was joined by Ostinelli in the track’s chorus.
While “Geralt of Rivia” is a complex and multi-faceted track, “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” is a comparably streamlined arrangement. The piece is performed by series bard Jaskier (Joey Batey) in the show, and bits and pieces of the track are scattered throughout the episode it appears in before the full song is unveiled near the episode’s conclusion. The track begins rather simply, with some subdued lute playing and somber lyrics, but gradually builds up with additional instruments and more excitable vocals.
Ostinelli compared “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” to an anthem you’d hear bar patrons singing and the kind of track that intends to get viewers excited for Geralt’s next adventure. By the track’s conclusion, the jaunty atmosphere is infectious.
IndieWire will publish the full interview Belousova and Ostinelli later this month. “The Witcher” Season 1 premieres on Netflix December 20.