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Craig 1
Craig Pettigrew, Monk Music Editor

We 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 Craig 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 composer, Jeff Beal. He titled it "The Fullness of Spring."

I 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 week.

music box

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"?

I did 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.

For 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 a ProTools 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.

Now, 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 Betty.

How does the music department on a TV show such as Monk work with the director & other editors? What is the process?

Tony at the St. Francis
Director/Producer Randy Zisk with Actor/ Producer Tony Shalhoub & Traylor Howard

In 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, Randy 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.

Monk 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.

If 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.

Ugly Betty
Ugly Betty co-stars Tony Plana who played
Captain Alameda in "Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico"

How closely do you work with Monk composer Jeff Beal and what's the nature of the relationship between the composer and the music editor?

We 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.

How long does the process of scoring and editing the music for a single episode of Monk take?

Generally, a week. We'll spot, say, on a Monday, and the show will mix the following Monday. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

Did you ever run into any difficulties while working on the music for Monk?

Rock Concert
Brad 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.

Was there ever something musical the writers/director wanted in an episode that just couldn't be done?

Not 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.

If 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?

Jeff 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 greeting card.

Get Well

Do you also choose and edit music for the Monk promos?

No, 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 disposal.

Xmas Snow

If 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?

If 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.

Do you watch Monk? If so which episode did you think was the best from a music editor standpoint? The worst?

I 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?

For 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 an episode.

How 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?

I was a trumpet player. I went to the Interlochen 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.

What other television/films have you worked on?

Score 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 - won 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.

John Tuturro
John Turturro (Ambrose Monk) in Quiz Show

What projects are you currently working on?

Besides 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 to relax?

Depends 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 Philharmonic).

CRiag Pettigrew

Do you by any chance have any pictures of yourself doing editor stuff?

I 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 ago....

Just 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?

Yes, 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.

Fake Leper


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