Is there too much music?

With the abundance of music at a listener's fingertips, Ivan Hewett asks if too much choice is making it harder for people to enjoy it

Music is like anything else that evokes strong reactions. There has to be light and dark, yin and yang. Hating music is fine, because it usually turns out to be hating this music rather than that.

Being indifferent to music is something else. That seems odd, as if there’s something missing in the soul. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is suspicious of Cassius because he hears no music. “The man that hath no music in fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils,” says Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice. “The motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus.”

The notion that not liking music is a sign of moral turpitude might seem odd to us, but in Shakespeare’s time it was not.