BtvS 2.04
Inca Mummy Princess

Promotional CD tracks

04. Ampata's Kiss [1'44"] 64kbps/192kbps

AMPATA'S KISS - Beck clearly sells himself well here as not only a composer of underscore for typical fight scenes, but also of the musical miniature: this cue is perfectly rounded, and carefully phrased in a steady upward arc, also incorporating a stylistic hint of the mysterious East through the use of what might be a bamboo flute or pan pipes, and also a recorder (or equivalent, probably played by Chris Bleth), accentuating the poignancy of the situation where a previously mummified girl must choose between death and sucking the life out of her love, Xander.

The episode

The premise above might sound highly dubious for the musical build-up, but all is handled deftly - the horror and drama with conviction, and the unlikelihood with cool aplomb. A foreign exchange programme coincides with a visit to a museum to visit an Incan mummy princess. Awakened, she stays alive and girl-like by sucking the lifeforce from (and mummifying) people, but having taken the place of an exchange student, finds love in Xander. This episode is notable for introducing both Oz and Jonathan, as well as containing numerous references between the Incan 'Ampata' and American Buffy's role in life.

Fun quotation:
"You never know if a girl's going to say yes or if she's gonna laugh in your face and pull out your still-beating heart and crush it into the ground with her heal." - Xander

The music

Buffy was certainly a lucky break for the composer musically, since he was given ample opportunity in key scenes not only to make a vital contribution to the direction and scope of the show, but also to create some striking music in its own right. As much as the music for When she was bad might be seen as a step up for Buffy scoring, it is only with the fourth episode of the season that both music and episode are "nailed" simultaneously, creating a broader canvass, built upon later, and finally confirming the potential of an oddly-named fringe fantasy as intelligent, quality television.

Music plays an important part not only in setting the tone and subject matter - through instrumentation - but also in exploring the way the mummy girl and the audience respond to her situation. There is a powerful current pulling between horror and hope, revealing a starkly bleak romanticism set by some beautiful recorder music. Recorder and pan pipes/bamboo flute reflect the conflicting priorities 'Ampata' struggles with, and they battle on to the bitter end.

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.


""in every generation there is a chosen one..." Anthony Head's imposing introduction to the Slayer mythology. See 2.02-ex.1


Enjoyably spooky music introducing the Inca legend of the mummy princess. Ethnic-sounding instrumentation includes overblown pan pipes and/or bamboo flute, referred to hereafter as "panpipes"


[Later: the mummy awakened.] Here a slow upper-string passage incorporating a recognisable rising chromatic [Ex.1] heralds the recorder,introduced as the soundworld of the young mummy princess herself. Pause as Rodney steals the seal (expectation), then a gluttony of rasping dissonance as the mummy awakens and takes her first victim


Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme]


Some whining and muted strings follow the gang visiting the museum again and find the broken seal. At 8'29-40 a brief energetic passage accompanies the 'body guard's' attack. Both parts of the cue are serviceable but not memorable. The panpipes are used as a touch at the end, helping to further unify the score's tone around the mummy


[Foreign exchange student Ampata is 'replaced'] Very atmospheric, very tense. Instrumentation is key here, utilising errie celeste and pan pipes to highlight the Inca princess's concealment. Unthematic at this point, though


[Ampata/the Mummy princess appears for the first time as a girl] ...and there is magic! The hollow exotic fright music is replaced suddenly with glowing, yet tentative, harmony and melody. Celeste is still present and there is a distinct minor key solemnity, but the panpipes and their tribal/savage connotations are banished. [Ex.2]


Even this brief bridging episode is coloured with the soundworld of the mummy, using ethnic percussion and returning panpipes [irony? - "One normal life coming up!" - Buffy]


Exciting, jolting action music [as the bodyguard attacks 'Ampata' and Xander] which is mainly distinctive in its rhythms, but also uses tom-toms(?), lending some general ethnicity. At 19'50, [where they meet back at the library] there is merely a mysterious undertone, a glass harmonica-sounding chord with some string elaboration. [Ex.3]


['Ampata' is confronted by her bodyguard] A moody buildup of brass (with semi-tone motif) and strings, breaking into a thumping rhythm as 'Ampata' makes her choice [feeding off her bodyguard]. Here the panpipe sound returns, and still hinted at as 'Ampata' returns to Xander.


'Ampata' tells the story of the princess: here the romantic and beautiful return to the score. The recorder line is tentative, the semi-tone shifts gently pull between major and minor third. All is interrupted suddenly though (26'14): 'Ampata' stops Buffy from discovering the real 'Ampata's corpse - the magic is broken, and although the semi-tone shifts are still apparent, the empty bamboo flute/panpipe sound is to the fore.


Pop song [at the Bronz]]


Mystery chord [ex? or from previous?], some panpipe underscore, with upward semitone shifts (but this time not always on the minor/major third of the scale, so more threatening) [Buffy and Giles discover 'Ampata's secret]


Pop song [at the Bronz]]


Brief cut, with panpipes


Pop song (same as 31'17) [Back to Bronz]]


['Ampata' starts mummifying again, needing more lifeforce] - single low note


Pop song]


Atmospherics. 34'01[back in Giles's car]: short tense string passage [Ex.4]


Pop song (same as 33'40?)]


Atmospherics, a high string note, whining, a percussive rattle (reminiscent of barbaric mummy music), rising string semitone again but no hint of major/minor harmonies ['Ampata' attempts to seduce Jonathan for his lifeforce]. Ends with a low brass/string drop-semitone [as Xander arrives and Jonathan exits]


The rising semitone motif heralds the cue used in Beck's promotional album. Tender, sad, it is very obviously the highlight of the score and this matches the scene perfectly as 'Ampata' is forced between aching hunger and love. Graduitous electronic munching sounds accompany her feeding, and when she stops there is left only the strings playing the rising-semitone motif over a high whine. [BIG Ex.5]


[Cut to Giles piecing together the seal] Ethnic drums, quiet panpipes and strings. This is a rhythmic passage, gradually moving higher and adding new layers as Buffy moves towards finding 'Ampata'. The string rising-semitone motif enters in the background as Xander is found (a trace of 'Ampata's presence?). At 38'38 [as we cut back to Giles] the rhythm is interrupted, and more violent orchestral forces kick in as Buffy confronts 'Ampata'.


Low string/piano thumps underscore the Xander/'Ampata' confrontation as Buffy's life hangs in the balance. As Xander offers his life instead, the semitone string motif hovers above, but is frozen in a chord of icy chorus, then high strings as 'Ampata's time runs out.


A harp accompanies the oboe as it breaks from the rising semitone motif into major harmonies and the strings bring a calm conclusion


A spooky ending to the episode, as recorder and panpipe round off chillingly in the minor mode


Nerf does his stuff]

Musical examples

Ex.1 [midi]

Ex.2 [midi]

Ex.3 [very bad midi]

Ex.4 [midi]

Hurriedly drawn up, with poor notation, and approximate instrumentation.
The .midi file was appauling. Please follow with the promo mp3. The pitch has been taken from listening to the DVD and uses a matching pitch , different to that of the mp3. Click here to view the large ex in a new window.