Music is sex.
Homo sapiens is not the only species to create music. Far from it. Sociobiologists hear music in almost every species with melodic capabilities, in the form of mating calls. Songbirds and marine mammals — particularly of the order Cetacea — are renowned for gorgeous vocal displays, almost invariably linked to mate selection.
There's a reason I "melt" when listening to Sade, or Sarah McLachlan, or Norah Jones. My neurological system resonates resonates sympathetically with the specific timbre these three voices produce: low, airy, supple, relaxed. Even in the absence of pheromones, my endocrine system decided these disparate (age & race) women are chemically compatible mate choices.
Just by listening.
Fascinatingly, when I conjure auditory memories of long-term sexual relationships in my life, a similar vocal timbre is one of the unifying themes. Not something I consciously noticed, until just now.
It's not much of a reach to realize playing an instrument is simply a technological extension of vocalization, through tool use. As I listen to Kind of Blue, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley are as distinctively different to me as Song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) probably are to others of their ilk. The temperament of an individual as expressed by performance, broadcast through brass tubes — Miles is difficult, clever, strong-willed...while Cannonball is open, jolly, vigorous. See?
My seven year old female dog LOVES Robert Plant. Any Zep is an excuse for her to grab a toy and wiggle up to me, tail wagging furiously: "Let's play!" I wonder what he says to her?
The next step down our thought path is collaborative vocalization.
With evolution, what began as individual mating songs became group sessions purely for play and practice, then developed into collaborative communication across a wide spectrum of meanings: sex, nurturing, alarm, etc. Regional melodic dialects emerged over time. English sparrows vs. California sparrows. Beatles vs. Beach Boys. These dialects are authentic. You can finish this progression on your own...
Seth Godin just gave an astute presentation to the ailing record industry. The gist of his talk was thinking about music listeners (consumers) as members of tribes — tribes divided by artist, or genre. Read his entire post: The live music talk. I'll add a few thoughts.
1. You can't fight evolution — I can differentiate when a chorus has been cut & pasted in a DAW, or when drums have been programmed using samples. Perhaps the average listener can't, on a conscious level, but I'll bet she can subconsciously. That's the reason overpolished, overproduced, DAW-driven music is instantly forgettable: it's not organic. It lacks regional melodic dialect. I don't necessarily mean "geographic" when I write "regional" — I'm talkin' authenticity that develops through human interaction.
2. Performance is necessary for sustained interest — We are organic. And our ears are damn clever, for all of the evolutionary reasons outlined above. Our neurological systems are designed (optimized) for sympathetic resonance, which is why the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas withstands perennial listens, despite "imperfections" such as tape hiss or the accidental buzzer in your right ear thirty-two seconds into Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Vince Guaraldi's joie de vivre illuminates every ivory tickle, multiplied exponentially by his interactions with the other musicians.
3. Music is sex — Understand the music someone loves, and you'll understand her sexuality. Understand her sexuality, and you'll predict the type of mate she'll seek, and by extention the type of music she'll like. Tim Westergren's Music Genome Project is a fascinating first step down this path: Pandora.com
So. What does your music say about your sexuality?