You wouldn't believe it, but I really wasn't planning on doing anything nearly as extensive as last year's S3 score post. But then something happened. The score ROCKED ITS LITTLE HEART OUT. And I just couldn't help myself. I made deep cuts. Deep DEEP cuts! And still this thing is a BEAST. 22 episodes. 164 clips. 160 minutes. 90 mb/zip. It's possible I need to be committed.
But seeing as how this season's conventional soundtrack is practically nonexistent due to unfortunate lack of mullet rock (*SHAKES FIST AT BUDGET*), I just couldn't NOT do this. If you loved this season like I did, and are itchin' for a season soundtrack to love and adore it anytime you want, this score compilation is the perfect way to relive the best moments of the whole season, from epically badass angels to Sam’s turmoils and Dean’s fears, all in under three hours. And so, in celebration of our wonderfully tragic show's return tomorrow, I give to you:
All scoring of Supernatural composed by Christopher Lennertz and Jay Gruska
When I first began diving into this series score three years ago, I had no idea what the interest might be for it, and to say I've been surprised by the level of excitement for these scores around fandom would be a gross understatement. I've been overjoyed in seeing just how many of you have enjoyed these scores and posts. So it gives me great excitement to present scores for this past season, a season in which the scoring not only improved by leaps and bounds but has also proved under further analysis to be absolutely exceptional television score. There is so much I want to point out, but only so much space to do it in, so I’ll try to keep it short. But this season’s score was extra busy this year, and I can't make this post without giving at least some of it its well-deserved praise.
For those of you who are just here for the downloads, feel free to skip below...
ANALYSIS AND CRITICISM
If we hold that higher quality score comes out of work that inspires its composers, then season four must have inspired Supernatural's composers in spades. To put it simply, these guys got their mojo back this year. It was not without some struggle, the first couple episodes of the season sounds as though both Gruska and Lennertz were searching for something. But as the world of the show expanded into new territories, so did the show’s sound palette. As the show started pulling itself back to its roots, harking back to old characters and eluding to past episodes, so the score began becoming more closely stitched, tying old melodies into new ones and new themes into old ones. And the results were astounding.
It's worth noting just how integrated the sound has become. On a show in which two different composers with their own preferences and styles swap episodes throughout the season, it's easy for a cohesive sound to become sacrificed in the process. While previously the show's height of cohesive sound had been the second season, and had fallen enormously in the wildly inconsistent third season, this season shocked even me. Literally so was the integrated sound that for the first time in years I couldn’t decide confidently who scored the last two episodes without DVD conformation. And once I had the DVD's in my possession, I uncovered that four episodes in which I surely thought I’d had right, WERE WRONG. What ON EARTH had happened to my EARS?!
But close examination revealed where my initial confidence had come from. Lennertz’s heartfelt flute-and-oboe score for ‘Criss Angel Is A Douchebag’ ("No, You'll Be There", "Manna From Heaven", "The Right Thing") sounds almost identical to Gruska's rich scoring on his best day. Meanwhile, Gruska’s empathic strings-and-piano work for ‘Afterschool Special’ ("In Memory of Barry", "The Life You Want To Live", "Blast from the Past", 'A Change of Fortune") is a dead ringer for Lennertz’s more sentimental scoring pieces. Lennertz also unusually scored three episodes in a row, from 4.08-4.10, but managed to make each one sound unique in wake of its differing source.
If anyone knows anything about my love of scores, they’ll know my favorite is the use of leitmotifs. Season four featured an expansion on a number of past motifs. These motifs can add so much to the text in the space of a couple seconds, and can be the difference between a mundane scene and a meaningful one. I always like to think of them as little clues in the narrative, and to dissect the score and find one is like the greatest prize you can get. And in the case of a season that concluded with a curveball of a finale, it’s interesting to see what the score signaled throughout the season.
The most recognizable motif, "Dean’s Family Dedication Theme" (or Dean Theme as it’s most commonly called) came back to increased prominence this year. First heard this season in ‘Afterschool Special’ in a less developed form, it served as the melodic backbone of the gorgeous multi-timbre "A Change of Fortune" [4.13] (before nosediving into Sam's own melody). If you recall, the last flashback of the Winchester Brothers had featured the theme [3.08] in a very premature form, and so it is fitting that as it is heard here in a flashback four years later, this melody is now more fully formed. Yet, especially given the context of the scene (in which teenage Dean counters a girl’s criticism by childishly asserting to the whole school how much of a hero he is), it is also fitting that some notes of the melody are still absent, suggesting that his heroism still has a ways of development to go. The theme was also heard in its original form in ‘Death Takes A Holiday’ during "Dean’s Confession" [4.15], referencing 'In My Time of Dying' and his newly found angel-size second chance. In perhaps the most curious use of the year, the Dean Theme melody is also heard later in the same episode as Dean criticizes Alistair’s choice of murder tools ("To Kill A Reaper" [4.15]). Presented in an eerily sharpened form, the melody serves to recall how tarnished Dean’s heroism became in Hell and perverts the hope of those second chances. Finally, in the most memorable occurrence of the season, the melody accompanies the final moment of ‘When The Levee Breaks’ as Sam defies an emotionally exhausted Dean and walks out the door ("Sam's Defiance" [4.21]), a use that only makes the scene more gutwrenching by also referencing past events such as John’s warning to Dean and Dean’s ultimate sacrifice for Sam. For those just interested in downloading these individually, I’ve updated the Dean Theme Score Post HERE. Listen to them all together HERE or below:
Another old motif made its comeback this year, Lennertz’s YED Theme, heard way back in the first moments of the series pilot. This three-note motif has been used sparingly if at all since, and so I had not previously expanded on it. While important human character motifs can be a complex melody multiple notes long, monster motifs typically are simple and bare, consisting of only three or four notes, a tradition prevalent in film scoring since the 1930’s monster movies to signify the monster’s lack of humanity. Lennertz’s YED Theme was appropriately first heard this season during the YED’s reappearance in 'In The Beginning' as he bragged to Dean about his endgame ("The Endgame" [4.03]). The motif resurfaced in real-time during ‘Yellow Fever’ characterizing Dean’s hallucinations of both yellow-eyed Sam ("Yellow-Eyed Fear" [4.06]), and Lilith ("Remembering Hell" [4.06]), creating a fascinating musical connection between Sam, Lilith, Hell, and Azazel that becomes significant in light of the finale. Most curious, is its inclusion in ‘Heaven & Hell’ as Anna wakes up from her hypnosis and remembers she is an angel ("Anna Remembers" [4.10]). While Anna turned out to be by all accounts a staunch defender of humanity, the use of this theme connected angels to the apocalypse’s architects very early on in the season and interestingly signified heaven‘s nefarious plans far before the finale‘s reveal. Listen to them all together HERE or below:
When I first saw 'Yellow Fever', I cursed Lennertz for bringing back my major complaint of S3, the infamous Crack Score ("Crack To Guitar" [4.06]). But had to laugh when moments later I heard my own suggested crack score replacement, "Silly Brother's Theme", coming through my speakers. Okay, guys, I get it, you like your crack score. I'll settle for a compromise as long as it sounds less out of left field. And it's true, its usage became much less intrusive, both in that episode and later in 'The Monster At The End of This Book', an episode that even I can admit begged for crack score. Instead of being recklessly placed in an episode, the sound was melded with the show's signature guitar riffs ("Crack to Guitar" [4.06], "Opposite Day" [4.18]) and regular score ("Chuck Shirley", "It's Lilith"). This integration into the show's normal style helped the sound succeed where it otherwise might have failed, and for that I must tip my hat on the improvement. Hear the differences HERE or below:
Sam has absolutely WRECKED me since S3. And I found it so inconceivable that Sam had gone through these last two years with no theme that I became certain that I had missed it. I scoured through this season with a fine tooth comb. And while I think that if you really wanted to make an argument, one could say that "To See What I Have Done" [4.07], "Sam's Changed Mind" [4.12], and "In Memory of Barry" [4.13] are variations of Sam & John's Theme, their sound doesn't really recall the others like a motif should. I feel confident in stating that sadly, Sam has no one melodic theme a la Dean Theme to attach to his name.
There are however three interesting things going on with Sam's score this year. One is a reference, however intentional or not, to the S1 Sam & John Theme. While I hadn't realized it before, their motif is intrinsically a continuously descending melody, which seems fitting when you recall each man's subsequent spiraling downfalls. Essentially, the melodies pertaining to Sam this season can be divided into two parts, those of ascending melodies during moments of new hope and possibility. And those of descending melody during moments of despair or doom as Sam resigns himself to his horrible fate. The only one which doesn't fit in this split is my personal favorite of the season, "To Keep Going Without Dean" [4.04] which I've nicknamed "The Tragedy of Sam" since I find it most adeptly characterizes the corner he was painted into this year. (While being also ACHINGLY gorgeous, of course.) So, on the up side, Sam does have themes, just a lot of them. Gruska especially gave Sam some fabulous melodies to call his own this year, and I'd be remiss to not single them out. So, because it's an experience in itself just listening to all of Sam's melodies in the series, I've put them all on one playlist for easy listening. Listen HERE or below:
The third interesting thing going on with Sam in the score this year was Gruska's instrumentation use for Sam's Mind Exorcism. Heard consistently in all Gruksa-score episodes in which Sam uses his new talent ("Sam's New Talent" [4.01], "Ganking Samhain" [4.07], "You Have No Idea" [4.15]) is a theremin or theremin-like sound accompanying it. Alone, the sound is a perfect denotation of Sam's extra tunnel-visioned focus, and works especially well during the excruciating strain of exorcising Samhain [4.07]. When you add in that the theremin was historically used in film music to code monsters, aliens, and those with psychological abnormalities in order to denote them as less than human, the use takes on a much more sinister tone. But it is its use in 'Sex & Violence' that makes it one of the most brilliant scoring choices of the season. Used to code the siren's thrall over its victims while they killed for it [A Siren's Symphony], the inclusion adds a new dimension to the season as a whole, as the siren's spell echoes the thrall Ruby had over Sam simply because she knew what he wanted. Sure enough, after Sam listens to Dean's fake voicemail in the finale, the sound returns as Sam's determination to see it through returns ("Sam's Last Minute Decision" [4.22]). Finally, all of this only adds to the brother parallelism of the season when one remembers the similar theremin-sounding voice Castiel used to talk to Jimmy and Dean.
We had a lot of other neat instrumentation this season, from the eerily unsettling harpsichord in "Girl In The Window" to unusual percussion in "Ring The Dinner Bell" and "Messin' With The Wheels". Native American flutes and percussion were commonly heard throughout the season in reference to Hell, from melodies accompanying Dean's tearful confessions ("No Forgetting", "Forty Years") to quick clangorous references to his time downstairs ("Getting Out Of The Life", "Remembering Hell", "Angel Radio"). Oboes and bassoons were used extensively this year, mostly in codifying humanity ("To Be Human" [4.10], "Find Someone Else" [4.16]), so it's significant just how many Sam melodies contained them. Vocals were used in relation to both angels ("Servant of Heaven" [4.20], "Lilith IS the Final Seal" [4.22]) and demons ([4.16], "Final Showdown" [4.22]). Two high-pitched piccolo notes were heard during the mention of Lucifer and Lilith ("The Sixty-Six Seals" [4.02]). Lennertz's hero horn was heard as Dean's voice multiple times in the season ("Find Someone Else" [4.16], "Ruby's Demise"), and then brilliantly used as a gag in "Get Up & Fight" [4.18]. And the rustic score made a comeback again this year in the "A Head-Scratching Case" [4.06] and "Dean Challenges Fate" [4.18].
Strains of old episode themes were also heard throughout the season. During 'In The Beginning', distinct styles from the 'Pilot', 'Bloody Mary', and 'Home' were heard scattered about the episode ("Dean's Crystal Ball", "Dean's Co-Pilot", "How It Began"). Perhaps my favorite scored episode of the series, 'Death Takes A Holiday' featured remnants of 'Scarecrow', 'In My Time of Dying', 'Playthings' and 'To Dream A Little Dream' which came together in a rich woodwind-themed score to created the memorable atmospheric sound for a highly successful episode ("To Become Ghosts", "Couple of Heroes", "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", "Process of Letting Go"). And perhaps the most versatile episodic score heard yet, 'The Monster at the End of the Book' followed right in step with the narrative, seamlessly melding the cheesy cool ("Supernatural: The Books") with the silly crack ("Chuck Shirley", "Opposite Day"), with the eerie creepies ("It's Lilith", "New Material") and the awesomely epic ("The Winchester Gospel", "Don't Bother Knocking", "What You Always Do: Write"). Also contained in that episode was the cue 'What Choice Does Sam Have, a repeat on a melody not heard since the Dean & Sam Stairs scene in the 'Pilot'. I already mentioned 'Criss Angel Is A Douchebag' and 'Afternoon Special', but their exceptional thematic scores deserve repeating because their simply GORGEOUS melodies are responsible for giving the episodes an emotional resonance that was absolutely essential to their success.
For course no score post on this season is complete without mention of Gruska's full-orchestral 1930s film score pastiche in 'Monster Movie' which sounds like something straight out of Max Steiner's King Kong sheet music. One day I'll have a post on this episode alone, because I could talk about it all day. It's definitely a breed of its own from the over-the-top ("Opening Title Sequence") and whimsical ("Straw-Sipping Girl") to its trills ("Mummy Rising") and harp usage ("Werewolf in the Moonlight"). While expertly crafted and hysterical, it unfortunately doesn't mesh with the rest of the season well, and so this is not the place for it to be discussed in length.
I can't conclude this without discussing some of my favorite pieces of this year. There were a bunch, but three especially deserve to be mentioned. "What If We Could Win" [4.12] was the reason I started this post, because it absolutely broke my heart first time around, accenting Sam's hope heard in his voice over the possibility that Dean would be with him on what he's saying. Retrospectively, it's a heart-stomper that Dean doesn't recognize the moment's importance and dashes Sam's hopes. And simultaneously, its revealing through its accent on Sam repeating Ruby's words played like an omen of what was to come. In Memory of Barry [4.13] is a theme heard three times in the episode as a gorgeous piano and strings melody which perfectly captures Sam‘s quiet sadness for his friend he had no choice but to leave behind, and infuses the whole episode with its high-powered nostalgic emotion. "Whatever Sam Has To" [4.15] is perhaps the most gorgeously entailed but perplexing melodies of the season, as it accompanies Sam lying through his teeth to the young ghost boy. I can't help but wonder exactly what Gruska wanted to accomplish with this cue, and yet its existence alone made sure an otherwise trivial scene would be telegraphed as a more revelatory moment for Sam's characterization.
And there's just gobs of other things going on in almost every cue clipped here that I simply don't have the time to discuss fully, like the two entwining, conflicting, and clashing violin melodies during 'Trust Me' [4.21], or the lost, searching Castiel piano melody and bold, inspirational Anna score string melody in 'Time To Think For Yourself' [4.18]. Or the two challenging melodies in 'A Fathers' Orders' [4.07] in which one wins. Or the hesitant 'Holding Sam Back' that perfectly underlines Dean's concerns. Or the hymn-like score of 'Angel Possession' [4.20], complete with a piano part echoing a church-bell sound. And I have to stop myself there or this post will turn into a runaway train! But please, download the zip, listen to them yourself and draw your own conclusions. Hear what each melody, timbre, instrumentation, and style brings to each moment, and I'm positive you will not be disappointed.
Listening to it all together just highlights how much of a wonderfully tragic and beautifully stitched season this year really was. On the whole, text and score together, it really ties together exceptionally well for a season of television.
I've divided the season's cues into two 90 MB zip files that each contain 82 MP3 files. That's 164 MP3s in all with a run time of 160 minutes.
Considering the size, I'd suggest using the rating's system in iTunes in order to rank the cues and keep track of your favorites, since they can get easily lost in the shuffle. I found it incredibly useful in sorting through all of these.
Some other features that should be helpful:
- All music has been volume boosted to go with season’s soundtrack. You can further adjust it to your liking using iTunes. Right click Get Info. Click Options tab. Use Volume Adjustment.
- All music is automatically labeled for iTunes with Artist and Album for easy access.
- All non-dialogues are marked with [#]. When you want to just hear instrumentals, simply enter # into your itunes search.
You’ll notice there’s less [#] than last season. To be honest, most of the nicest melodies and most interesting timbre changes this season were on dialogue-ridden moments. Another reason to keep track of your favorites with the iTunes ratings.
The cues are listed below in the order that they appear in each episode. Most cues' origins should be easily discernible by title or dialogue, but if there's any your curious about, feel free to ask! I hope you all enjoy!
|4.01 - ‘Lazarus Rising’ [Gruska]|
- Rebirth [#]
|4.02 - ‘Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean Winchester’ [Lennertz]|
- Lonely Is The Night (Recap)
|4.03 - ‘In The Beginning’ [Lennertz]|
- Mary Was A Hunter
|4.04 - 'Metamorphosis’ [Gruska]|
- Dean Finds Sam
|4.05 - ‘Monster Movie’ [Gruska]|
- Opening Title Sequence [#]
|4.06 - 'Yellow Fever' [Lennertz]|
- Crack to Guitar
|4.07 - 'It's The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester' [Gruska]|
- Fathers' Orders
|4.08 - 'Wishful Thinking' [Lennertz]|
- A Head-Scratching Case [#]
|4.09 - 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' [Lennertz]|
|4.10 - 'Heaven & Hell' [Lennertz]|
- Anna Remembers
|4.11 - 'Family Remains' [Gruska]|
- Sold [#]
(Secondary DL link HERE)
|4.12 - 'Criss Angel Is A Douchebag' [Lennertz]|
- No, You'll Be There
|4.13 - 'Afterschool Special' [Gruska]|
- In Memory of Barry [#]
|4.14 - 'Sex & Violence' [Lennertz]|
- A Siren's Symphony
|4.15 - 'Death Takes a Holiday' [Gruska]
- Holding Sam Back
|4.16 - 'On The Head Of A Pin' [Lennertz]|
- His Apprentice
|4.17 - 'It's A Terrible Life' [Gruska]|
- Well-Respected Man
|4.18 - 'The Monster At The End of the Book' [Lennertz]|
- Supernatural: The Books
|4.19 - 'Jump The Shark' [Gruska]|
- Sam's Teachings
4.20 - 'The Rapture' [Gruska]
- Returning Home [#]
4.21 - 'When The Levee Breaks' [Gruska]
- Drug Intervention
4.22 - 'Lucifer Rising' [Lennertz]
- Carry On (Recap)
(Secondary DL Link HERE)
NOTE: My copy of 4.21 had the worst audio quality and I had some difficulties with the audio from a DVD rip. Better versions of the first five can be found HERE if they annoy you too horribly. I'm working on getting a good 'Trust Me' and 'Sam's Defiance', but my computer has decided to be evil, so it may be a while. Unless anyone might be able to point me to a better avi copy, in which case I'd love you forever!
ETA (09/10/09): Thanks to ilostmyshoe0782 who scored me a DVD Rip copy, here are the last two good 4x21s: Trust Me | Sam's Defiance (Dean Theme). For those of you just getting here, all seven of these good copies are now in the second full zip, so you don't have to worry about anything else!
OTHER SPN SCORE POSTS:
- BIG DAMN SPN S3 Score Post [Downloads]
- Dean's Family Dedication Theme [Downloads]
- Season Two's Scoring Overview Meta
- Big Damn SPN S1 Score Post [IDs and Downloads]
- List of Episodes for Each SPN Composer
- SPN's Musical Motifs
- SPN Composer Interviews
- SPN Pilot: Comparing The Pre-Aired Score to Aired Version's