Thursday, June 24, 2004


Of all the myriad rhythms which serve to foster the auditory pleasure of human beings, my favourite one is the Waltz. For those of you who cannot instantly recall this beautiful rhythm, remember "E dil hai hai 'Bumbai' meri jaan" from the old hit CID (starring Guru Dutt)? All rhythms are very regular in their meter and pace; however I find Waltz to be special in this respect. It sounds like this rhythm was made for dancing, not only literally, but also symbolically in the upper echelons of human thought and creativity. What I can say about Waltz is similar in spirit to the well known (Communist?) phrase namely that "All rhythms are regular but some are more regular than others". And Waltz belongs to this category. Interestingly, there are two types of Waltzes which are diamterically opposite to each other in their meter, but still evoke a diabolically common emotion. First there is the normal, frequently heard, honest Waltz. You begin with it slowly, and your mind and heart start springing with its cadence. And before you know it, you are lost in its regularity, its precise predictive beats. There's something about symmetry that humans love. And Waltz portrays it to a magnificent extent. For getting a feel of this, one just has to listen to a composition by Johann Strauss, the "King of Waltz". Many of his compositions have become so commonplace and familiar that we do not even recognise the fact that they are great works of art. The best example is his "On the beautiful blue Danube" which I have heard as background music played in movies, cafes and restaurants, the gas station, the train station, the grocery and even before a scientific seminar. Again, you may recall it as being played incessantly in the background in "2001: A space Odyssey", the Stanley Kubrick opus. So that's the usual Waltz for you.
And there's the mind boggling, tempting, naughty "Viennese Waltz". Its hard to describe this one. The best analogy I can think of for it is a cat, a beautiful sprightly feline who creeps ever so gently from behind you....and then with a sudden jump which is full of conviction as well as affection, says "Gotcha"! The Viennese Waltz has beats which begin off the meter and then linger somewhere off apparently in space and time before touching the on meter, just on time. It is the only human phenomenon I know which makes you actually WANT to hold your breath and feel great about it! That's what you feel like doing when it goes off beat and then you and the rhythm hold hands and make a glorious entrance, right on beat! Compelling! Hail the humble Waltz, and may it continue to delight and entertain humanity forever!


Blogger Schrodinger said...

Great post Ashutosh, you seem to be deeply in tune with your musical senses!
I have my own story to tell about the Waltz. During late high school I used to learn Ball room dancing and the Waltz is perhaps the most romantic dance I ever learnt, it steps are simple and take you round and round the floor with your partner swaying with you. I must confess everytime I did the Waltz I almost fell in love with lady who partnered me... at times it even used to be my dance teachers wife!!!

10:33 PM  

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