Other appetites... have been sated even to excess by modern business. Food far beyond the simple needs of stomachs, and sex (or at least images of it) far beyond the needs of reproduction, bombard the modern man and woman, and are eagerly consumed. But these excesses are built on obvious appetites. What appetite drives the proliferation of music to the point where the average American teenager spends 1½-2½ hours a day—an eighth of his waking life—listening to it?1½-2½ hours a day? That seems positively abstemious. I had the impression that many people were listening to music constantly. And why stop at "waking life"? Aren't people playing music all night?
Anyway, The Economist notes 3 theories for the evolution of music in human culture: 1. sex, 2. social glue, 3. accident and invention. All 3 theories are discussed at length at the link, but let me concentrate on the sex theory -- that people make music to attract sex partners. The theory is reinforced by the way musical achievement tends to track the human being's sexual development. One study of jazz musicians found "that their output rises rapidly after puberty, reaches its peak during young-adulthood, and then declines with age and the demands of parenthood."
This may be the best answer to the question my son Jac asked the other day: "Why does every great, long-lived rock band lose their greatness?"
Meanwhile, just yesterday, I was going on and on about how there's way too much music. It's playing everywhere, people are listening on iPods everywhere, and that I hardly ever want to listen to music. There is a lot of music that I acknowledge is good and that I even know I like, but that doesn't mean I want to listen to it. I specifically enjoy the absence of music, and I seek it out. If silence were a track I could have on my iPod, it would be on my most-played list. Etc. etc. etc. Now, I'm thinking: What was I saying???