What I'm working on over summer: Greg Booth

22 January 2018
Greg Booth in conversation with composer Vanraj Bhatia.
Greg Booth (right) in conversation with composer Vanraj Bhatia. Photo by Chirodeep Chaudhuri.

Almost ten years ago, Associate Professor Greg Booth published a book-length study of the Bollywood film music industry from the perspective of the musicians who both experienced and shaped its history.

Behind the Curtain: Making Music in Mumbai's Film Studios captured first-hand accounts from the composers, arrangers, assistants and studio musicians that grew up in the film world.

He explains that the book was largely about the "death of the business" as the film music industry that had existed since the 1930s was in the final stages of collapse.

In the book, Greg unfolded the technological, cultural, and industrial developments that led to the enormous studio orchestras of the 1950s–90s as well as the factors which ultimately led to their demise in contemporary India.

This summer he will be hard at work writing a follow-up chapter on film music in Mumbai for the forthcoming second volume of Sounds and the City: Popular Music, Place and Globalization.

Greg spent six weeks in Mumbai last year to conduct research for this new chapter, and found a wholly different and renewed film music scene.

"I spent six weeks chasing the young guys and asking them how the industry works, and how it’s different now."

He found a busy, vibrant and lucrative music scene.

"It was harder getting to talk to the guys this time around — they're all out working and hustling all the time. It's a much more global crew — there's a lot of touring. A lot of them come through Auckland."

"These new guys grew up in rock bands. They're really the first generation who grew up playing rock and roll and started making a living out of it."

"They all have home studios where they produce music for films. They'll arrive home from tour, drop their stuff, make some tracks, email them off, and then they get back on the road. There's fewer people doing it, but the guys that are doing it are having a great time."

"They're working all hours."

Armed with all of his interviews from Mumbai, Greg will be hunkering down to write over the summer.

"When you’ve got to write, you’ve got to write. The exciting part was in Mumbai!"

Find out more about Associate Professor Gregory Booth