Rob's Pile of Transformers: Beast Wars Music

The Beast Wars music is very different from the music of the old show. Some of it has the "cheesey action music" feel of the third season pieces, with lots of generic electric guitar; other parts of it sound like World Music, with woodwinds and lots of percussion. Overall it is not as strongly melodic as the G1 music, but it sometimes is more mature-sounding than much of the original series' music. And it's structured quite differently as well.

Whereas G1 had a large number of fully-orchestrated pieces of pre-recorded music which were then selected and fitted to the scenes in the show, Beast Wars takes a number of simple thematic melodies and then reiterates, alters, and combines them. Another big difference from G1 is that there are significant periods in the show with no music at all. And a third difference is that many characters, including Silverbolt, Tarantulas, Inferno, and Waspinator, have specific themes dedicated to them. Also, with no Autobot/Decepticon symbol flip-change sequences to moderate between scenes, BW frequently uses short bursts of music to signify the end of one scene and the beginning of another.

The music in every show is largely or wholly performed for that individual episode. Robert Buckley is the show's sole music composer (he also does Reboot and War Planets, IIRC), working from a bank of synthesizers. Sometimes the exact pieces are recycled (Tigatron burying Snowstalker in "Law of the Jungle" has the exact soundtrack as Depth Charge telling Primal that Cheetor's been killed in "Feral Scream" Part 1, for example), but just as often (or moreso) the pieces are original performances.

THEMES:

Beast Wars Theme: Obviously, the theme from the show's opening. Variations of it are used to soundtrack much of the show, especially the battle sequences. For reference purposes, I'll break it up into several sequential parts:

Incoming: Upbeat but intense-sounding piece, sort of a loose interpretation of Gathering Pace. Heard a couple of times in "The Agenda" Part 2 as Blackarachnia and Waspinator approach the Ark's volcano.

Dark Omens: A highly marital bit. It's the same tune as Incoming, but played as single notes instead of multiple repeating notes. Opening of "Before the Storm", and several other points during the Season 1 finale; heard in "Agenda" 1 as the Tripredacus Council convenes.

Desperate Measures: Intense battle theme, maybe/almost a jauntier version of the Pursuit section of the Beast Wars theme. Heard in "Coming of the Fuzors" II as Megatron and Inferno fire on Rattrap and Dinobot from the air; "Before the Storm" as Tigatron flees the Predacon base; and -- I think -- "Code of Hero" as Dinobot takes out Inferno and Blackarachnia.

Wild Lands: Jaunty little four-note progression (a variation of the Pursuit theme) that often accompanies the Maximals on their journeys. Heard in "The Web" as Rattrap goes hunting for Cheetor, for example.

Serengeti: A subdued but fast-moving action piece, with tribal-sounding flutes overlying a very percussionistic rhythm: the type of music they'd play over a wildlife documentary about Africa. Heard in part one of the pilot episode, when Cheetor is running alongside the other cheetahs; "Other Victories" when Cheetor is chasing the merged Tigatron/Airazor spark. Similar to the above piece.

The Hunters: Similar to Serengeti. Plays over the opening of "Law of the Jungle"; recycled in "Proving Grounds" as Blackarachnia pursues Dinobot 2 through the trees.

SWING, Kitty Kitty: From "The Probe" as Tigatron and Cheetor seek to escape their Predacon cages.

Shoot My Dinner Salad: From the opening of "Gorilla Warfare". Contains a variant of Haunted Lands and a second piece I haven't yet managed to nail down, a sort of rising-and-falling series of notes played here by a synthesizer.

Predacon Theme: It's actually the same four-note progression that forms the basis of Hunters, Serengeti, and Pursuit. For the Preds, it's heard in a variety of styles, all of them a bit sinister:

* Rhinox is Death: "Dark Designs" when Rhinox is stomping down the corridors of the Pred base; during Airazor's first few seconds of existance in "The Spark".

* Blackarchnia's Theme: Simple xylaphone version, but repeated twice for a less threatening effect.

* Tarantulas's Theme: Done with off-key or dissonant chords.

There They Are, His Little Guys: Goofy bit used to soundtrack Tarantulas's mini-spiders in "Optimal Situation".

He Was... Delicious: From the end of "Double Dinobot", and similar to There They Are.

And while we're on the Predacons, let's cover:

By Royal Command! (Inferno's Theme): Sharp, tight series of drumbeats -- nothing else. This excellent rendition of it comes from "Aftermath" when Inferno puts his own freakin' head back on. Damn, what a badass.

Flight of the Waspinator: Frantic trilling synth piece derived from the classical piece "Flight of the Bumblebee". Heard in "A Better Mousetrap" when Waspinator is buzzing around mumbling to himself; in "Maximal No More" when Waspinator shoots down Silverbolt; a variant play in "Nemesis" Part 1 as Waspy, QS, & Inferno fly off to look for a new colony. Variant is from "Changing of the Guard" and includes a bit of Silverbolt's Theme.

Tension: At its core, it's still another iteration of the Serengeti/Pursuit/Predacon Theme, with the same four-note progression. Here, however, the notes are held longer and drawn out into something more melodic and less percussionistic. The theme is ubiquitous in the show and has innumerable variants.

Mongo Destruction: I think -- but I'm not certain -- that this piece is (partially, at least) another variation of Tension, except that it starts in the middle of the note progression. Heard in "Bad Spark" as Megatron "welcomes" Rampage to the Preds; in "The Agenda" part one's opening, as we watch the transwarp wave expand outwards; "Nemesis" Part 2's opening as Megatron blows up the jungle.

Celestial Destruction: Grandiose piece driven by a smashing guitar chord followed by two long synth chords underlain by a vocal chorus. Heard whenever something big and disastrous is happening. Accompanies the transformation of the artificial moon in Other Voices 1; the scenes of planetary ruin in Other Voices II; the spreading time wave at the end of Agenda III; the incoming quantum surge at the beginning of Aftermath; the beginning scene of Before the Storm when Tigatron sees the alien device.

Celestial Aftermath: Same tune as Celestial Destruction, but less violent.

Celestial Endings: Another Celestial Destruction variation.

Cosmic Awe (The Aliens' Theme): Sort of a fusion of Celestial Destruction and Tigatron's Theme, and rather derivative of the Ark theme from the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Best used as we pan through space at the start of "Other Victories" to look in on the aliens; also heard at the start of "Other Visits" as Rhinox and Dinobot analyze the alien disk, and in "The Agenda" Part Two as we look in on Ravage's ship for the first time.

Cosmic Significance: choir-driven piece heard twice in "Chain of Command" when something happens involving the alien site. Briefly heard a couple of times in "Crossing the Rubicon" when the Maximals think Blackarachnia's dead. Beginning of "Spider's Game" when we see the orbiting pods; beginning of "Nemesis" Part 1 when Tigerhawk is making lots of sparklies and Optimus reads from the Covenant of Primus.

Cosmic Funkitude: Identical instrumentation to Cosmic Significance, but a different melody. Sometimes segues into...

Ultimate Crisis: Repeated series of synth notes. Heard in "Chain of Command" as the alien probe zaps Optimus; "Crossing the Rubicon" when Silverbolt dive-bombs the retreating Tarantulas.

Planetfall: Related to the above pieces somehow or other. Soundclip from "The Spark".

Ultimate Spark: Same lead-in as Ultimate Crisis, but with a happy bit in the middle. Heard in "Optimal Situation" as Prime's Spark is returned to him, and briefly in "The Spark" as well, during Cheetor's dream sequence. Its pattern of rising notes is similar to The Worst, and even more similar to the Ultimate pieces. It's used throughout much of the show in innumerable variations, as shown here.

The Worst: Dark synth. "Law of the Jungle" as Tigatron runs to the buried Snowstalker; "The Agenda" Part 1 as Rhinox calculates the path of the transwarp wave front.

Land of Mystery: Sounds like an electronic flute, if there is such a thing. Often heard as the camera closes in on one of the bases, especially at the beginning of episodes. Almost a snippet; only four notes define the melody. "Feral Scream" Part 1 as Depth Charge heads out to hunt Rampage; "Feral Scream" Part 2's opening pan across Cheetor's quarters.

Haunted Lands: Long, low synth note, that steps up for a moment, then steps back down. Used to set an ominous mood at the beginning of several episodes -- most notably "Go With the Flow"'s opening sequence. Also heard in "Proving Grounds" as Blackarachnia departs from the Ark.

Aftermath: Tense, high-pitch single synth chord. Opening of "Aftermath" (Rattrap sitting at the computer); "Nemesis" Part 1 as Silverbolt and DC search for the Preds.

Black Death: male chorus backing some kind of synthesizers, but blended so you can't really make out either one clearly. Almost a sound effect, rather than a music piece, but it's purely there for mood -- it adds a sense of horror. Heard in "Dark Voyage" when the snake is crushing Cheetor; in "Bad Spark" as Silverbolt starts to cross the log, and again just before BA and Silverbolt run into Rampage; "Feral Scream" Part 1 right before Dinobot 2 captures Depth Charge; "Nemesis" Part 1 as Megs and DB2 approach the Nemesis.

This Transformer Doesn't Feel Pain: Black Death, but with some funky synth notes on top of it. "Coming of the Fuzors" Part 2 when Primal emerges from his pod; "Possession"'s opening sequence as Starscream floats towards Earth.

Sad Endings: Dark, mournful piece done with low synthesizer notes, that shows up whenever the Maximals have lost a fight or some such. Heard at the end of "The Probe";"Nemesis" Part 1 when the Maximals are in Tarantulas's submarine chamber. Similar to...

Death of a Friend: Dark, despairing piece with that chorus-like synth. "Law of the Jungle" as Tigatron buries Snowstalker; "Feral Scream" Part 1 when Depth Charge reports Cheetor's "death";

Theme of Failure: Heard in "Bad Spark" at the end of Dinobot's one scene.

Missing Man: Dark, quiet synth notes. "Code of Hero" as Dinobot meditates in his quarters. It's basically a differently-keyed version of....

Theme of Hero: Comes in two very distinct flavors -- the dark, low, synth-only version heard as Dinobot prepares to take on all the Preds, and again shortly before he confronts Megatron; then there's the full version heard during Dinobot's funeral ceremony.

Dawn of Man: No, not Also Sprak Zarathrustra; it's the acending synth/choral blend heard at the end of "Code of Hero" as we zoom away from the protohuman and his newly-discovered tool, and earlier when Dinobot's spark leaves his body; "Nemesis" Part 2 as Optimus is on the shuttle remembering those who fell during the Beast Wars. You lived like a warrior ans died to an hero.

Tigatron's Theme: gentle flute music, solemn, almost mournful. One of the show's best mood pieces -- THIS is why we want this stuff on CD. Heard several times in "The Trigger" as the camera pans across the flying island's landscape. An interesting variant is heard in "Feral Scream" Part One as Optimus mopes about the apparently-dead Cheetor.

Dark Place: Another slow flute piece. Not as sad as Tigatron's Theme, not as sharp as Land of Mystery; somewhat dark. Heard in Other Visits as Tigatron and Airazor close in on the alien site; in "Code of Hero" as we close in on the early humans' valley in the beginning; in "Bad Spark" as BA and Silverbolt start their journey to the mountain top. Also used sometimes as a transitional scene-opener.

Ballad of the Wild Bean Vines: For some reason, this somber piece (rather than something fittingly goofy) plays over the opening of "The Low Road". I guess Robert Buckley didn't get the jokes either. It's similar in tone and instrumentation to Tigatron's theme.

Silverbolt's Theme: Anyone who's seen "The Agenda" doesn't need this one explained to them. The piece is one of the few light-hearted bits of music in the show and provides some welcome relief from all the grim seriousness. Heard several times in "The Agenda" as we follow Silverbolt flying through the air, for example when he's on his way to meet Blackarachnia in part 1, and when he flies her across the lava to the Ark's door. It's the fully developed version of his fanfare, which is four or five notes of muffled trumpets (or some other horns) that accompany Mr. Nobility any time he gives one of his little speeches in the earlier episodes. Easily the most villified piece of music ever to grace a Transformer cartoon, and very wrongfully so -- any number of TF:TM's songs deserve that honor.

Maximal At Heart: A nice, quiet little piece partially derived from Silverbolt's theme, heard at the end of "Bad Spark" as Blackarachnia and Silverbolt part ways.

Nice Catch: Happy little series of synth notes, sometimes with an angelic chorus, that signifies the good guys pulling off some victory. Based on Silverbolt's Theme, I'm given to understand. "Bad Spark" when Silverbolt catches BA at the very end; "Go With the Flow" when Rattrap catches Oona in the Pred installation; "Changing of the Guard" when Silverbolt catches Rattrap (right before they collide with Depth Charge); "The Agenda" Part 2, when SB catches BA (again!).

Draw, Partner!: Plucked, reverberating guitar followed by a single harmonica wail, heard whenever a Western theme creeps into things (ie the end of "Coming of the Fuzors" Part 1, a bit of CotF Part 2, and "Maximal No More" when Quickstrike and Rattrap have it out.) Reappears in "Feral Scream" Part 1 when QS goes after the TM2 Cheetor. Corny as hell? Yes. Do I want it on CD? Oh dear LORD yes.

SUPER Optimus!: Cheesey fanfare played in "Victory" as Optimus catches the falling Axalon. Damn, them Primejets are somethin' else.

Rat Trap Lives In A Preddy Submarine: From "Deep Metal."

Maximal Victory: A punchy, upbeat, anthemic series of ascending synth notes, signifying some triumph for the good guys. "The Agenda" Part 1 when Megatron is arrested by Ravage; "Master Blaster" as Megatron is driven out of the volcano by the Maximals; "Nemesis" Part 1 when Optimus mistakes Rampage's detonation for the destruction of Nemesis.

BITS 'N' PIECES:

Oooo Ahhh: The "awe-inspiring" electric guitar chord heard every time a character arrives or transforms impressively or for the first time. Watch the series premier to hear it about twenty times in various incarnations.

Depths: Underwater, no one can hear you scream. They can, however, hear this odd little noise.

Meanwhile Back at Base: quick ascending series of xylophone notes, often used when cutting from an action sequence to a non-action shot in the Maximal base.

Uh Oh: off-key decending synthesizer note, the sort of thing heard in horror movies when the killer is lurking nearby. Heard in "The Trigger" whenever one of the traps is activated; at various points during "Bad Spark"; once or twice as the submersible launches in "Nemesis" Part 1.

DAT's Gotta Hurt: quick descending tuba notes, often heard when someone falls or splats Warner Brothers-style. See "The Low Road" (like when Waspinator bounces away at the very end) and "Before the Storm".

The Probe:

Irony:

Stay Tuned

Transition .

Back to the Transformers Music page.