Emmy mystery: Why can’t ‘Game of Thrones’ get nominated for Best Music Composition?

For the second year in a row, “Game of Thrones” was nominated in 18 of the 19 categories in which it submitted for Emmy consideration. The lone holdout both times was Best Series Music Composition. The reason that this Best Drama Series winner was once again snubbed in favor of series with no other bids lies in the unique process by which the TV academy’s music branch determines nominations.

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To even submit one’s work for consideration comes with the condition that one must judge up to 10 hours of other entries. Unlike all other categories, in which producers, public relations or awards representatives may submit on others’ behalf, it is up to the eligible composers, lyricists and musical directors to submit themselves for consideration in the music categories.

Entries are evenly distributed to voters, who review them and rate each on its own merit. Those with the highest average ratings become the nominees. Saying that “Game of Thrones” deserves a nomination for its score is easy. Saying that a particular obscure show does not is harder. The judging system in the music categories ensures that every submission receives a fair evaluation.

2016 Emmy Awards: Complete list of nominations

Because music nominations are not determined by simple popular votes (i.e, without at-home judging) as is the case with most other categories, no ballots are issued. Technically, we do not know that “Game of Thrones” has been snubbed the past two years. It is possible that the show was not entered for consideration; the only year that we know definitively that it was submitted was 2014, when the show received its sole music nomination, for the fourth-season episode “The Mountain and the Viper.”

Ramin Djawadi not only serves as composer for “Game of Thrones,” but is also the tunesmith for “Person of Interest” and “The Strain.” The music branch limits each individual to two submissions per category. Djawadi was also eligible for Best Main Title Theme Music this year because of his new opening credits sequence for the second season of “The Strain.” And while submission costs in other categories are normally absorbed by the campaigning studio, the music branch only allows musicians themselves to submit so Djawadi would have had to pay the entry fee of $225, beyond the first free submission, out of his own pocket.

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The nominees for Best Series Music Composition this year are:

“Bates Motel” (one other nomination): Chris Bacon, “Forever”

“Chef’s Table” (two other nominations): Duncan Thum, “Grant Achatz”

“Limitless” (no other nominations): Paul Leonard-Morgan, “Pilot”

“Minority Report” (no other nominations): Sean Callery, “Pilot”

“Mr. Robot” (five other nominations): Mac Quayle, “eps1.0_ hellofriend.mov”

“Penny Dreadful” (five other nominations): Abel Korzeniowski, “And They Were Enemies”

The nominees for Best Series Music Composition last year were:

“Chef’s Table” (no other nominations): Duncan Thum, “Francis Mallmann”

Winner: “House of Cards” (10 other nominations): Jeff Beal, “Chapter 32”

“Outlander” (no other nominations): Bear McCreary, “Sassenach”

“Penny Dreadful” (two other nominations): Abel Korzeniowski, “Closer Than Sisters”

“The Paradise” (no other nominations): Maurizio Malagnini, “Episode 8”

“Tyrant” (one other nomination — Main Title Theme Music): Jeff & Mychael Danna, “Pilot”

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