BtvS 2.01


With the premiere episode of Buffy's second season, both show and its music scoring matured significantly. This score marks Beck's first excursion into creating a musical sound world for the show, and the effect even in the opening minutes is striking, marking a distinct contrast with the 80's-style synthesizer scores composers Shawn Clement, Sean Murray had opted for in Season 1. In fact both composers would continue to score Buffy episodes until the season finale, at which point Beck appears to have completed his probation.

Promotional CD tracks

01. Resurrection [2'06"] 64kbps/192kbps
07. Sledgehammer [1'05"] 64kbps/192kbps

RESURRECTION - this is BIG Buffy. Bigger budget, bigger music. Beck never allows us to distinguish between synthetic and "live" instrumentation, plunging confidently into the fictional Sunnydale, a place of vampires, old-style romanticism and school work. The sense of musical scope is illustrated in the composer's running through a gamut of moods, speeds and timbre, but all conforming to the new Buffy-sound, where everything is played dead serious and as cinematically as possible. Beck treats us to almost-wordless (synthetic; the final words are "Agnus Dei") choral voices, strong brass writing, rushing and psycho-glissandi strings, and thundering timpani. The result is thrusting and dramatic and nothing like a television score.

[ADDED 2006.04] N.B. Robert Markham notes (by e-mail) that this cue is remarkably similar in style to that used in a fight sequence between Buffy and Faith in '3.07 Revelations'

SLEDGEHAMMER - A mellow track, where soft strings are blended with woodwind - oboe, clarinet, but most notably, flute, to lift the tone of the music briefly out of its customary melancoly.

The episode

Buffy returns to Sunnydale after a break, acting erratically and dreaming about the Master, her previous conquest. The "Annointed One" is the main enemy in this episode, but Buffy's behaviour is the focus.

Fun quotation:
Xander: "Well, we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but hey, we did that last night."

The music

Oddly enough neither track from the promotional CD is included in the episode in its complete form. One would expect the "Sledgehammer" music to accompany Buffy as she smashes the bones of the Master, but instead an unassuming piano line is brought in, and as Angel approaches from behind to comfort her, it may contain the embryo of the Buffy/Angel love theme, although a more upbeat variation later as she returns to normal life dismisses this for now.

Likewise, the highly effective "Resurrection" track is also frustratingly absent. The action music is still pounding, but different, and at various points the spooky opening accompanies scenes with the vampires and the Annointed (a kind of leitmotif) but it fails to launch into that allegro. The promotional music was well-chosen, though, since it works well as a continuous track, something television music cues rarely ask for. Instead of yearning for the drawn-out dramatic build-up, Beck - as we shall discover in succeeding episodes - becomes a specialist in the miniature cue, mastering the shock outbursts and swift crescendi with aplomb, but finding the just the right balance with hushed tense moments (mainly through high electronic wines and various atmospheric effects) and the odd plaintive melodic passage. All this sets in perfectly with the way this season of Buffy would go in its storyline, its epic journey of thrills, love, betrayal and death making it arguably the darkest the show would ever go.

Cue notes

Anyone not interested in some terse, mainly descriptive, comments on the music as it runs through the episode, please do not attempt wading through the text below. Timings are approximate, based on the Region 2 DVD cut of the episode, the timing beginning as the episode begins.


Big chord, with chorus drifting away as Xander and Willow talk


Plaintive piano melody (see ex.1) is interrupted (on screen: vampire appears) by brass-heavy explosion, and brief action music as the vampire is dealt with


Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme]


Spooky electronic noise


Heavy electric guitar, drum/bass music, covering Buffy's training montage. Presumably not Beck?


Uses the spooky music from the beginning of BD1 only [aging black vampire giving his pep-talk and re-introducing the Annointed One], including a sly chromatic figure (see ex.2)


Dissonant music, heavy on brass with string tremolo, the psycho glissandi and rising string+woodwind scales [In Buffy's dream, Giles attacks her]. This is not on the promo track, but closely related to track 1


Sappy guitar pop starting as Angel gets soppy with Buffy. Grr, argh


The Bronze, where Buffy manages to annoy everybody, including the famous sexy dance, rubbing up against Xander - all accompanied by odd pop (oriental trance?)


Opening of track 1 of promo disc again. This works for continuity with the vampires and is a great deal more effective than the more noticeably synthesized music of season one. [Vampires dig up the bones of the Master]


Swift chord with spooky music (the shock-to-eerie music is to become staple fare in Buffy from now on) [Cordelia is caught], followed by further spooky music (held bass, a bass clarinet/bassoon version of ex.2, high wines, atmospheric audio effects) embellished by Halloween-style piano line (ex.3)


A brief piano motif (ex.4), very similar to the 23'05 (ex.1) piano line [Buffy leaves for the church to rescue Cordelia. The music stops as she does to insult the following Angel], here with just a low bass hum to lend it some added menace. Very telling here is how close the first two notes are in retrospect to the opening of the Buffy/Angel love theme, to be explored in later episodes


Soft bass drum thump opens a spook music sequence, with plenty of atmospheric noises and creaking, beneath a high held chord (ex.5, sometimes soundling like a glass harmonica, dwindling to high strings, is harmonically related to ex.4) [Buffy and Angel arrive at the church, but find a vampire instead of the expected Cordelia]; some brief violence, before a more subtle build-up of atmosphere is layered onto a scene in the library [where Giles realises the trap is for him and Willow, not Buffy], featuring held notes above a growing, growling bass, again ending in a heavy electronic clang.


Beck underscores expertly along with the tension as Buffy is moved to action. Beginning with repeated and alternating edgy-rhythmed chords (ex.6), following through to a whining atmospheric sequence as she discovers Giles and Willow are taken by vampires


The opening of track 1 is used again, this time with full grand "instrumentation" and choir given a foreground mix. Again this does not continue as the promotional track does: the vampire chant and Buffy/Angel dialogue is very subtly underscored, and the action music which ensues as Buffy fights the vampire resurrection group is again different. The orchestra is just as fiersome as on disc, though, with brass dissonances, horn calls, and strong pulsating string writing, lifting for a moment during dialogue before Buffy kills the last two vampires in the room leaving a gong-echoe as the dust clears


Atmospheric sounds fade as a plaintive piano melody enters (ex.7), revealing the fragile, human Buffy, and hinting more obviously at the Buffy/Angel love theme (again in retrospect - this is a gradual development towards the fully-fledged theme) as he approaches to comfort her. As with most Beck Buffy music, however, this is still sad and ends well and truly in the minor key


"Nice" music! The piano brings warmth now, with warm but quiet string accompaniment, moving into an upbeat television-friendly piano-and-drums ending as Buffy and her friends bond again. Presumably Beck music?


Brief epilogue minor chord with chorus as the Annointed One, back in the cave [??] speaks "I hate that girl" - followed immediately by the credits

Musical examples

Ex.1 [midi]

Ex.2 [midi]

Ex.3 [midi]

Ex.4 [midi]

Ex.5 [midi]

Ex.6 [midi]

Ex.7 [midi]