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The Good Cop - Interview with Composer Pat Irwin

Just as the majority of network television series were debuting or resuming for their current season, Netflix was busy churning out yet another series to keep their viewers satisfied. Starring Josh Groban and Tony Danza, The Good Cop landed on September 21 with a 10 episode first season. Here's an interview with the comedy's composer, and B-52s member, Pat Irwin.

When you first started scoring The Good Cop how did you figure out with the initial sound of the show was going to be?

Even before I started working on the show the creator, Andy Breckman, told me that he wanted the score to be driven by piano. Specifically, solo piano. He referenced the score for The Firm which was composed by Dave Grusin. Andy also mentioned “Unsquare Dance” by Dave Brubeck which pointed me in a certain direction. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that we really needed a bigger sound, the solo piano was just too intimate. At first we added a double bass and some finger snaps and some of those cues ended up in the show. We almost immediately expanded the band to a quartet with the drummer doubling on bongos. The bongos became a crucial part of the sound.

How long did it take you to score each episode?

For the first two episodes we had about a week to 10 days. By the third episode it got pretty tight and we had to turn the score around in 3 to 5 days. Occasionally we had to turn a cue around in 24 hours.

What has been your favorite episode to score in Season 1?

The last 2 episodes are my favorites. The band was really locking in and we were able to work some spontaneity in to the sound. The musicians, who are all on another level, played most of the music on the first or second take. The sound of the score is very alive.

Has there been a particular character in this show that has been difficult to score? If so, why?

I wouldn’t say there was a difficult character but I think that the relationship between Big Tony, as played by Tony Danza, and TJ, as played by Josh Groban, took a little fine tuning. We didn’t want the sound to be too sentimental or too sweet, yet we wanted to underscore their closeness. Their relationship is crucial to the show. There’s humor there but there’s also a kind of genuine complexity that we wanted to capture.

If there was to be a Season 2, would you change anything about your score?

I’d like to fine tune what we’ve got.

Did the binge-watch aspect for viewers that Netflix provides influence how you approached scoring for this series compared to a series that would air on traditional television?

Creating a score for a show that is streamed definitely had some challenges. Each of the episodes is self-contained so it’s not really one long show. We had to be careful with our themes, particularly the music that underscored the father-son relationship. We didn’t want to repeat ourselves too much but at the same time we wanted some continuity in the sound and the themes for their scenes together.

Since you started out, what do you think are the biggest changes that the film and television industry has experienced from your point of view as a composer?

I would say that the technology is changing on a daily basis. When I first started I recorded to 2” tape! Now, of course, we record using a desktop computer and ProTools. Notation software is also continuing to get more sophisticated. For The Good Cop we used all of the available technology but we keep the band live. A lot of the performances that you hear are either first or second takes. At the end of the day the sound is about real musicians playing real instruments. It’s a wonderful thing.

What are the most challenging, and the most rewarding parts of your job?

The schedule is always challenging. And making sure I get a score that works best for the show is most important of all. Andy Breckman really had a tone and a vibe in mind when we started out. It was a challenge for me to get him the sound that he was looking for. The most rewarding part of the job is getting to work with people who are on a very high level. I mentioned the musicians, but I’d also include Michael Hill, the music supervisor, and Missy Cohen, the music editor. I’ve also worked with the producer, Brad Carpenter, on several shows. We’ve got a pretty great crew together.

That's all from Pat. A big thank you to him for taking the time to answer these questions. The first season of The Good Cop is streaming now on Netflix. Thanks for reading!


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