This book presents a collection of essays and lectures written by the author between 2011 and 2018. Its underlying theme – as suggested by its title – is the uniqueness of the relationship between the Hindustani musician and his art. This uniqueness is moulded by the fact that the tradition enjoins upon the performer the simultaneous role of a composer. This makes Hindustani music a three-dimensional art: contemplative, expressive and communicative. These three components serve to make Hindustani music a remarkable manifestation of continuity within change, and individuality within conformism.
Viewed from this perspective, Hindustani music is not merely north Indian art music. It is inextricably linked to a multiplicity of other musical traditions – folk, devotional, tribal, martial and popular – and is an active participant in the totality of the cultural process. Every piece of performed music speaks, in some manner, on behalf the generation performing it, and addresses the corresponding generations of audiences. For the author, therefore, it is not merely sufficient to understand what Hindustani music is. It is necessary also to seek insights into why it is what it is.
In this book, the author relentlessly pursues his intellectual aims by borrowing ideas from a wide range of disciplines: sociology, linguistics, cultural anthropology, acoustics, aesthetics, demography, economics, marketing finance, psycho-analysis, mythology, philosophy and even mathematics. Despite its diverse intellectual canvas, the book retains the essential “Indian-ness” of the author’s argument, and simultaneously addresses an international readership.