Monk Music Editor |
get a lot of questions here at the
Monk Fun Page about the show's music
so I figured I should find a reliable
source on that front. A careful
perusal of the credits reveal that
Pettigrew has been the music
editor for Monk since the
second season. I was inspired to
contact him when the question of
"What was the tune on the music
box in Mr.
Monk Makes a Friend?" was
ubiquitous. Craig had the answer:
"That music box theme was an
original composition by the show's
Beal. He titled it "The
Fullness of Spring."
couldn't pass up the opportunity
to have a bunch of other burning
questions answered by a bona fide
expert, so I asked him to take on
a bunch more. Happily, he agreed.
He's been super busy, ("As
I write this we're mixing the penultimate
episode of Ugly
Betty for the season,"
he informed me. "It's the same
mixing crew that also does Monk.")
but I got his answers earlier this
So how is it
that you came to work on Monk
and, since I haven't got a clue,
what exactly are the responsibilities
of a "music editor"?
not work on Monk initially.
A friend of mine did the pilot,
and the first season was mixed
up in Canada. Jeff delivered his
music via internet or by FedEx.
But I had started to work with
Jeff pretty much full-time, having
met him through Mark
Isham, and when they started
to shoot and mix here in L.A.,
that's when Jeff asked me to come
on as music editor.
this show, my duties started out
as fairly standard procedure: after
they've finished cutting picture,
we would have what is called a "spotting
session," where the producers,
editor, Jeff and myself look at
the show and decide where music
starts and stops. I then generate
a set of notes, which include start/stop
timecode numbers, and any creative
notes concerning the nature and
style of the music. Jeff then goes
and writes (I also generate a set
of "markers," which are
start and stop indicators which
he can import into his writing software)
and I will cut any source songs
(music supplied by the production
that is music that is coming from
any radio, or any source that music
would emanate from). When Jeff is
done writing and mixing, he delivers
file and its audio, which I then
import into my ProTools session,
with my songs and the other show
music, like the title song and end
credit music. I then take that (on
a hard drive) to the mixing stage
and we mix over a two day period.
I'm then responsible for representing
the score on the mix stage, and
more importantly, either recutting
Jeff's music or adding more music
from the existing library should
the producer have new and different
ideas about the music.
since there's so much music in the
library, Jeff doesn't need to write
every new music cue in the show.
I can "track" cues (cutting
music cues based on music from the
library, music that Jeff has written
for earlier episodes) and thus lighten
Jeff's load, especially if the turn-around
time from the spotting session to
the mix is short. He really depends
on me for that; sometimes we have
overlapping projects (like The
Company, a 6-hour mini-series
for TNT that we are presently working
on) and Jeff has less writing time
than normal. We have a very similar
procedure on Ugly
does the music department on a TV
show such as Monk work
with the director & other editors?
What is the process?
Randy Zisk with Actor/ Producer
Tony Shalhoub & Traylor Howard |
TV, the director is usually gone
after they've wrapped shooting.
On a film, it's different; it's
the director's ball game and they
are involved in everything. But
in TV, the exec producers make
the final decisions. For Monk,
Zisk makes the major decisions,
and he'll also direct a few episodes
every season. But it's usually
Randy we play back for, regardless
of who directed the show.
is a pretty simple show, musically.
Ugly Betty is far more
complex, as we have a huge music
budget and music supervisors who
are responsible for finding songs
and source material.
you see Betty, you'll notice
that it's pretty much non-stop music,
whereas Monk is far lighter
in terms of musical content. Whatever
songs are needed are usually decided
upon during the picture editing
process, and I simply inherit that
music and recut if needed. There
are exceptions, like the rock concert,
where we had to find a lot of "off
camera" songs which are going
on in the background when the case
is being investigated.
Plana who played
Captain Alameda in "Mr. Monk
Goes to Mexico"
closely do you work with Monk
composer Jeff Beal and what's the
nature of the relationship between
the composer and the music editor?
work very closely, emailing each
other many times a day. He knows
that if his music needs re-editing,
that I know his music well and know
how to realign it and keep it musical.
Without that trust, he wouldn't
have time to continue writing while
his music is being mixed across
town. He also trusts my opinion
not only as regards to his music,
but to the show in general. On Monk,
we no longer have spotting sessions.
We gate a tape or DVD of the final
picture cut, and I'll spot the show
at my house and email Jeff the notes.
Now the picture editor has already
cut some temporary music in (in
order to screen it for the USA execs)
and I use that as a guide and jumping
off point, but my instincts for
where music should start and stop
is pretty good; I've been doing
this as a career for 20 years. I
usually "overspot" the
show, meaning we'll probably come
to the mix stage with more music
than they'll want, but it's easier
to delete music than it is to create
new music at the last minute. As
it is, when we mix, we'll do a little
of both; deleting cues in favor
of playing the scene "dry,"
or me adding new cues from the library
to flesh out the show musically.
long does the process of scoring
and editing the music for a single
episode of Monk take?
a week. We'll spot, say, on a Monday,
and the show will mix the following
Monday. Sometimes more, sometimes
you ever run into any difficulties
while working on the music for Monk?
Hunt as Kris Kedder in
"Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert"
The rock concert show had its difficulties,
as I inherited a lot of on-camera
performances where the lip sync
was terrible, and all I had was
a stereo mix of the vocal and band.
Usually, a music editor is on the
set for these kind of playbacks,
but Monk is not a high
budget show, so they won't pay for
me to do that. Which means I inherit
other people's mistakes, and have
to fix them.
there ever something musical the
writers/director wanted in an episode
that just couldn't be done?
yet. Jeff is very chameleon-like,
and can write in any style to suit
the show. I have yet to see anything
terribly out of the ordinary, musically.
you want to insert say a greeting
card that plays Polly Wolly Doodle
or a music box with a certain tune
into an episode, how is that done?
will write/arrange and then record
the tune, and I will cut it in and
match it to picture, so that it
comes on and goes off appropriately.
The mixer will equalize the sound
of the music so it sounds like it's
coming from it's source, i.e. a
Do you also choose
and edit music for the Monk
the promo department is an entirely
separate entity. We turn over a
CD of the score every week to the
production, and if the promo department
needs any of that, it's at their
Monk sings a show tune in an episode
or a well known song like White
Christmas is used, who chooses it
and do you have to seek permission
to do so?
it's in the script, then they'll
see if they can license its usage
for the right price. "White
Christmas" is very expensive;
it might be that they would request
a re-write, and have a different
Xmas tune written in. All the rights
issues are settled (usually) before
a frame of film is shot.
you watch Monk? If so which episode
did you think was the best from
a music editor standpoint? The worst?
don't watch it on the air, since
I see every episode over and over
again as I work on it. Also, I'm
spoiled, as the mixing stage is
the very best place to hear anything.
Once we play it back here, it'll
never sound that good ever again.
No specific episodes come to mind,
in the "best/worst" category.
I tend to remember the better written/acted
episodes. We enjoy the show as an
audience, as you do.
What kind of creative
freedom does a music-editor have?
me, it's doing the spotting notes
(sometimes dictating how music can
be used to connect characters, scenes,
and themes) and tracking music from
the library to make new cues for
exactly did you come to work in
this field? Was it something that
you went specifically to school
to train for or did you just fall
into it while on some other course?
was a trumpet player. I went to
Arts Academy, the Eastman
School of Music, and Northwestern
University. At the end at Northwestern,
I transferred out of the music school
and into the film department. I
moved out to L.A. after school,
wanting to be a picture editor,
and did that for about 5 years (working
mostly on HBO documentaries) I was
out of work, and a friend of mine
from NU was an apprentice music
editor at Fox, and got me in there,
which got me in the Union. But I
was also a playwright; I had several
plays produced and published, and
being a music editor was simply
a paycheck. It was only after 3
years of being an apprentice, after
Fox closed their music editing department,
that I was forced to find real work
as a music editor. I fell into a
company of editors back in 1987,
and have been music editing full
time ever since. It makes sense
on paper; I have a music background
and know film. But it was not be
design. I just fell into it.
other television/films have you
and scores of films and TV shows.
I'm exhausted just thinking about
it. Some favorites: Steel Magnolias,
Alien 3 (score by Elliot
Goldenthal) Shannon's Deal,
(TV show) Quiz
Show, Fly Away Home,
Mystic River, Hitler:
The Rise of Evil (mini-series
an Emmy for it) Human Trafficking,
the three films I've done with Bruce
Beresford (Double Jeopardy,
Last Dance, The Contract)
last year's Nightmares
and Dreamscapes, especially
the "Battleground" episode,
and many of the Disney animated
features I've done. I've had very
few bad experiences; I can count
them on one hand.
are you currently working on?
Monk, there's Ugly
Betty and The
Company, the 6-hour mini-series
that will air on TNT in August.
What kind of music
do you listen to just for fun or
on my mood. I listen to so much
music for work that I crave silence.
I just went to a story-telling
festival in Ojai (we go every
year) and enjoyed that immensely.
But I will listen to jazz, a lot
of Elvis Costello, but there's very
little that I don't enjoy. I love
classical music especially, since
that was my first love, my first
career (when I was at Eastman, I
played trumpet in the Rochester
you by any chance have any pictures
of yourself doing editor stuff?
do somewhere, and maybe I can have
a picture of myself taken with Monk
on the mixing screen as a backdrop.
We mix the first episode in a couple
of weeks. Meanwhile, when I get
home tonight, I'll see what I have.
I know I have a picture of me in
Prague, working on Human Trafficking,
a mini-series I did couple of years
one more question. The music in
"Mr. Monk and the Leper,"
where the fake leper is playing
the piano right before he gets shot,
is that also Jeff's composition?
Do you remember what it was called?
that is Jeff's composition. The
piano piece was titled "Say
Goodbye Now." Jeff wrote it
to be used as playback, which means
the actor learned to fake playing
it by practicing to Jeff's recording,
and then they shot it (and some
insert hands, as I recall) and it
was cut together to make it appear
that he was actually playing.