This collection of essays, a thoroughly revised and enlarged version of its first earlier edition (1979), is a pioneering treatment of the Hindustani rhythm in the way of contemporary (Western) aesthetics. It seeks, on the one hand, to determine and distinguish the meaning of such key words as laya, matra, bol, theka, sama, and layakari, and, on the other hand, to seize the details and aesthetic semblances of live rhythm as they appear to contemplation.
Some wider aesthetical questions have also been addressed in this book. How, if at all, can rhythm be regarded as an autonomous art? What are the elements of its winged form, and how can it yet appear steadfast and virtually motionless? Is it proper to speak of the art of rhythm as symbolic in its significance or as expressive in some distinctive way? Or, can it be said to ‘embody’ what it signifies?
Insofar as rhythm is fast becoming a vital subject of aesthetic reflection in the West today, the book also seeks to weigh the conflicting views of two modern aestheticians, Susanne K. Langer and Philip Alperson, against the theory and practice of Hindustani rhythm.
Every lover of this specific genre of rhythm stands to benefit from a reading of this book. It would prove to be of value also to those who are interested in Kathak dance, for no other classical dance of India depends so manifestly on rhythm.