In this book, I bring together the notions of sociality and subjectivity to throw light on an important aspect of how publics are formed in the non-western metropolis. My focus is on the port city of Bombay/Mumbai, where the centrality of Hindustani or North Indian classical music from the late 19th century onwards helped form a distinctive kind of aural public. This public impacted the way in which urban spaces were organized, as the love for music created a culture of collective listening that brought together people of diverse social and linguistic backgrounds. The book suggests that this condition of collective listening enabled the formation of a new musical subject, the musicophiliac. The avid listener, the collector, the event organizer, the student, and the teacher – all came into Hindustani music as non- traditional musical subjects.
Even as the musicophiliac subject positions are made possible by new ideas of the public in the Indian metropolis, they are perhaps giving that public some of its unique characteristics. I coin the term ‘metropolitan unconscious’ to refer to a collectivized unconscious that includes the diverse pasts and experiences of the migrants who came to settle here under conditions of colonial modernity from the 19th century onwards. The metropolitan unconscious draws on all these migrant histories but is not identical with any one of them.