HE’S ONLY A SOPHOMORE IN COLLEGE, BUT YOU’VE heard him: University of North Texas State student Henry Beal laid down the brooding bass line for the theme of the hit TV series House of Cards, now in its third season. The soundtrack, written by Henry’s father, Jeff Beal, features a brilliant, bass-driven underscoring of power and politics in Washington. We talked to Henry about his memorable line.
How did you approach recording the bass line?
The line for the main title was written out by Jeff, so I didn’t create the bass line; I just interpreted. I tried to get a deep, menacing sound and bring out the dissonance created from the minor 3rd in the bass against the major 3rd in the strings. Jeff emailed me Logic files with two tracks: an mp3 of the other instruments in the first track, and the second one empty. I recorded my bass track with the mp3 and a click.
How many different versions of the line did you send back?
I sent back two good passes of everything for safety’s sake, often with slightly varied dynamics or articulation. Sometimes just one would suffice if it felt like a solid take.
Did the underlying dramatic plot play a role in how you played the line?
Jeff told me to convey a dark, brooding energy, and that affected the emotion I was going for.
Do you have any tips for collaborating long-distance on recording projects?
It’s helpful to use the same digital audio workstation as the person you’re working with. It’s easier to record directly into a project file and send a zipped folder than to send audio files.
What are your career goals?
I would be happy being a successful performing jazz artist, but I’m also interested in fields such as composing video-game soundtracks, session playing, and teaching. My dream gig would be touring with an incredibly creative group. The work I did on House of Cards was an incredible opportunity, but I’m probably not going to do a large amount of session or recording work until I further my abilities as a bass player. Eventually, I hope to do sessions in the L.A. area, but that’s at least a few years away.
Bass Ibanez SR805 5-string
Strings D’Addario Nickel Wounds (EXL160-5)
Recording Komplete Audio 6 interface, Logic Pro X