« Song Exploder

Jeff Beal - House of Cards (Main Title Theme)

2014-04-01 | 🔗

Composer Jeff Beal deconstructs the main title theme music to the Netflix original series House of Cards. The show has been nominated for multiple Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Original Main Title Theme and Outstanding Music Composition. The show was adapted from a British series of the same name by writer Beau Willimon, and director and executive producer David Fincher. Jeff talks about his collaborative process with Fincher, and how they found the mood and musical palette for the show and its theme, and how it changed from season one to season two. A word of warning: if you haven’t watched the first season, there are spoilers about how that season ends.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
You're listening to song exploder, where musicians take apart their songs and piece by piece tell the story of how they were made. My name is rishi your way, subsidies, sponsored by indeed diet, the hiring platform where you can attract interview and hire all in one place with virtual interviews, you don't in any other software. To connect with your potential hires can do it right on the site so sign up for indeed now and get a seventy five dollar credit towards your first sponsor job plus earn up five hundred dollars extra in sponsor job credits with indeed, virtual interviews visit indeed, dot com, slash song, exploder, to learn more claim your credits. At indeed a calm, slash song explorer again, that's indeed dot com, slash song, exploder terms and conditions apply, need to hire. You need indeed,. this episode is sponsored by the official prince podcast, which is bad with a new season in it. here from the revolution and friends include.
Musicians managers, production, designers and more here, first and stories about everything that happened during the purple rain tour, both onstage and behind the scenes prince deal with the pressures of fame? Why was that or abruptly cut short, listen. Now apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. in this episode, composer, just beale deconstruct the main title theme music to the netflix original series house of cards. The show been nominated for multiple emmy awards, including outstanding original main title theme and outstanding music composition, the show was adapted from british series of the same name by writer, beau willimon and director and executive producer, David Fincher, coming up Jeff It's about his collaborative process with venture and found the mood and musical palette for the show and its theme and how changed from sees one decision to buy
They re. Now your hearing, the seas in one region. I interviewed Jeff at his home, where he produces every part of the score, including a sixteen piece orchestra that he records in his cavernous living room. A brief word of warning: if you haven't watched the for season, there's a spoiler about how that season ends and now here's the main title theme to house of cards on some experts I'm jeff beal composer. I do the music for house of cards. I had worked with David fincher on a commercial Probably about six or seven years ago- and this was around the time I had been working on rome, H, b, o so I saw in the trades. You know this show was happening with David's name attached and I kept in touch and we'd never worked together since, and I thought this might be a good good match for us. You know
I'd watch a little bit of the british show, and that was to think there as part of high pitched David is because I sought to use the rome thing I said. Well, I said you know. Even the room was a period round. Them is very much about politics and sort of operatic scale task. Storytelling after I first met with David a sort of talk about the project and guys initial thoughts about music. Can we sort of put our heads together? They he's done his sort of way of thinking about music and how much music informs his choices. He actually asked me to write some sketches before he started, shooting and, of course, before we had the meeting before I met this sketches they shared with me, I think, about four or five scripts early drafts of what became season. One so it was very much bows, both cents in the way he sort of created this world that inspired some of the early early work? The thing that I liked about the british show is sort of dark humor to it, and I said he added the music's. Definitely gonna have to find a way to sort of give the audience permission to sort of laugh. The sardonic
darkness, of course, once he called me in you know he gave me some of his thoughts on it, which were interesting and some of them surprising to me. If there was one song he really liked. The super train crime of the century. and rates great song section that song towards the end where it is becomes a sort of driving peace, I a sense of sort of opera four classes, the men and rabbit ass, but but it also had a very gritty. earthy almost jazz.
Rock and roll with that together and sort of thought about why that spoke to him. That's the show the show is it's all about the underbelly of washington, the dark corners, what you don't see, what really suppose the sort of the west wing you know heroic more aspirational, the sort of hail to the chief. You know Washington that your typical sort of film score gestures about the capital and politics I wrote about for sketches for dave, One of the things we talked about in our first meeting. He was, he said, was we kind of need a call to arms,
the And when you listen to it, it has, it's a lot of the elements that became the main title theme. It's got that baseline. It's got that sort of cloud of dark electronics that sort of proceed it like a like a fog or something and the tune is there, although in this case it was just play by the piano, very simple orchestration, and then this The second time it goes around. The snare drum comes in very simple, but there's a tune in there there's a little sequence of chords and melody part of the sketching is useful is because it's like the bones of something. If the structure the skeleton has integrity, it
be able to stand without an abundance of sort of instrumental embellishment. and so by sketching and by doing simple versions of themes you are able to sort of mixed for you have an idea, I always thought this sort of the public faster, seeing the idea that, like Kevin's basis, characteristics, later. He a virtuoso at pulling the strings people in getting them. Do what he wants to do The reason I'm sharing this one in the context of the main title is when we got Finally, during the arrangement David said, he'd be cool if the main title felt like the sort of do of a lot of different elements from the score which would then be deconstructed into its individual parts, so you'll hear this sort of descending chromatic line and the high piano that became at the signature, the main title sequence as this
catch grows, the electric based comes so it's a sort of minimalist piano motif by putting that base underrated, sort of gave it the attention of something that's pushing against it. David, and I talked about the piano little, because that was in the super tramp q and an instrument. I like a lot, and it felt like a good enough meant for Kevin's character, because it can be very precise and very sort of mechanical in a way which I love about it, the sort of call to arms things that was dropped, the main title sequence and it never left once it was in there. That was what we're going to do and I started you know a few passes through. I started work on this. Arrangement, the story of the main title: sequences visually lyric on food. But then I remember this came straight from sort of both original scripting at the main title. Did
the whole idea of the sun going down in washington. You knew started in really broad daylight and, as the sequence progresses you end up at night Are you so? There was a way in which you went from something very open and an airy and light like the darkness falling. You know. So that was that was a little bit of a visual retailing thing, I tried to play off of the The thing we hear is the fog, the fog of the cloud of dust,
it's it's a sort of low since drone the shortly after that comes the baseline, which I know David affectionately referred to as the riptide. I always like that description is kind of like the idea of something that pulls you under yeah. Basically, it's a combination of several things. It's analog key models and things that I designed some of my head for a long time and there's a couple of different those bass, samples mixed together, but also record or live bass player plane that playing the part. That's actually my son henry, who is a wonderful young musician, he's actually now setting jazz bass. The bass line was so important and the orchestration was getting big enough. I actually recorded the bass an octave above it gives it enough mid re contents of that when all this other stuff is happening, that base is still driving. One of the fun things about the composition for me was that
the harmony changes a lot over that baseline. In fact, bass is always playing in a minor, but the harmony sometimes goes to a major, and it creates this very strange dissonance in the sense of collision. It's basically a wrong note. You know it's like the bass players playing the wrong note, but doesn't sound like renault, because it's ingrained it's got it's own logic to it. So it's almost like frank will push through anything. He doesn't care he's not going to stop playing those notes. my original sort of called arm sketch two two, which is kind of the original demo original, almost long enough to cover the main title sequence. We sequence more time and I more This direction from David to sort of work in another theme so what I did was I kind of extended the intro. I had a lot of percussion but I also added the little puppet master if the guy you know that thing it has slightly different cadence, because this is an for foreign that permission The aim was always in three crisis, herb
look up a little bit, but it's sort of its still got that descending chromatic line. Another layer that was One of the last things I came up with, but was really useful. The trumpet from player and again is the most expected. Cliche thing you'd here show about washington would be that sort of military trumpet kind of thing, because we're seeing the sort of icon shots of washington it to start right to have something that references that I can because, obviously the rest of the composition is telling you that this isn't the heroic version of the lincoln memorial and washington monument and there's a which sort of lonely to me too. I like the sort of loneliness of it. One of the things David visually did was to pull out a lot of the people in some of the time lapse shots he has. It was much creeper seeing some of those shots with no people in them. It just made it feel, like you,
town or was at this sort, surreal quality to it. Basically, how can a david fincher about the second season. Sort of surprising to me, but I think we were spotting. The first couple episodes he We started giving notes on the main title about what he wanted different. You know David saw. The second season is even more operatic and darker to which was shocking to the first, That was pretty dark, but You know who everybody is you've seen who, who frank is and what he can do. You know in these killed somebody in the first season I mean it's obviously very nothing's going to get in the way of what this guy wants to do in general, remain titles. You know people get attached to when they like something. So very careful. You know it's like dear the ship enough, but not so far as to make it feel. Like your old friend, was not your old friend anymore, so I added Some voices and voice samples to a lot of it. The
I also added some some low strings to the intro. The The hi string line that used to be de da de DA da da da da sort of puppet master theme. We just do that. in the jelly yeah. It's lower everything, sort of skewing downs, doing darker so that it feels like this cloud, a sort of come over the whole thing you sort of lightness and sense of that type, Banerjee's dissipated, you know, he's no longer. The puppet master has ordered his vice president in season two we know he's he's very much in command, so there's less of a game going on and much more of like the sent to the throne. I think some networks leaving filmmakers are afraid of a real maintain sequence, a sort of old fashioned idea, but the whole idea of a little.
The film that settles you into a world and get you ready to experience thing is a wonderful sort of his story telling device. You know it's sort of frames, a moment for you and gets you settled into what you're about to take. In a now here's the season to version of the main title theme to house of cards.
song exploder dot net for more info on Jeff, beal and house of cards, including link to Jeff's website and a link by the season one score on itunes of so included a link to the supertramp song that inspired David fincher song explode. It has brought you by progressive, have you, I the name your price tool yet works just the way it sounds. You tell progressive humming, you want to pay for car insurance and they'll, You coverage options that fit your budget. It's easy to start a quote: and you'll be able to find a rate that works for you One of the many ways can save with progressive, get your quote today, a progressive dot com and see Four out of five new auto customers recommend progressive progressive multi, the insurance company and affiliates price, and bridge match limited by state law. This so does sponsored by so those who make the altar portable smarts You're called sonos rome, it weighs less than a pound and it's water. proof and solar just launched three new colors of rome. I take my
with me when I'm on tour. So I can listen to music and pod properly. Despite whatever weird off brand hotel I might be staying in, and then when I'm home, I can the room to wifi and the rest of my sonos system for steam, listening in every room, shops, in one room in new colors exclusively at toto stock com, you can find out. The past and future episodes of song exploder at song, exploder dot net or on itunes, stitcher or wherever you download, podcast, find the show on twitter, facebook an instagram at song exploder explorer- is proud. Member of radio Tokyo from pr acts, curated network of extra, Mary story. Driven shows learn more radio, Toby I dont have em. My name is rich. Case your way, thanks for listening, radio do. This episode is sponsored by micron,
micron. Mobile memory and storage products deliver a solid data foundation for feeling the next generation of five g, and I enabled smartphone experiences with every new generation smartphones can more new and innovative things previous generation couldn't The heart of innovation is micron mobile memory and storage micron. It's where data lives
Transcript generated on 2022-06-07.