"If music be the food of love, play on". So said William Shakespeare in one of his most famous theatrical lines. The Bard understood very well the power music has to ignite passion and elicit emotional response. And who would disagree?
Anyone can tell you the first record they ever bought. The proud walk home from the record store, the eager rush to the turntable, the umpteenth request to "turn it down" shouted from a remote voice somewhere in the house. Ask someone what led them to purchase a certain record and they will not only tell you about the music, they will regale you with tales that show its significance. They could tell you exactly what was happening in their life at that time, for instance, recall instantly an event or a person that a song reminds them of. And of course, what everyone shares when we look back at our early musical experiences is an assortment of emotional memories that can feel just as powerful years later.
If you were lucky enough to have musical parents with eclectic tastes you would have been privileged to receive a musical education that would stand you in good stead for the future. But, being exposed to a wide variety of musical genres didn't just provide a solid ground from which to hone your own tastes however, it could seriously improve your credibility with your peers.
In those formative years, who doesn't remember listening to the coolest kid in school espousing the virtues of a band or song and thinking: "I must get a copy of that"? And it didn't stop there. Along with working out what music was important, not just to you alone in your bedroom but that which was essential to have knowledge of in the locker room, it was necessary also to take note of the fashion that followed any given musical style.
If you identified with a particular piece of music it was expected that your tastes were easily identifiable by others. Public declarations of your audio pleasures were made through the choice of clothes you wore and the badges you pinned to your lapels. Delving further, you would seek out the places to be, the clubs that played 'your music': the social scenes that brought like-minded individuals together. And, of course, to add to your credibility, you would make sure that everyone knew you went to those places!
Having worked through the angst-filled teenage years though, coming to settle on your personal preferences, has anything really changed? You might still get excited about new music and be dressing in a particular style, or, you may have left all that behind, sticking firmly with your favourites like old and trusted friends. One thing is for sure however, music is still important and the events of today will be recalled in the future, along with the music that you are listening to now.
Think of a CD that your long-term partner or recent lover bought you, or an event where some music accompanied a special meeting. In a few years time, if you listened to that music again, you would think of them: a special evening maybe, the party where you first danced to 'that song', your first kiss perhaps and the early stirrings of blossoming love. And so it goes on.
Should you be single right now and looking to meet someone special, the power of music to fuel love is an essential ingredient.
Just as it was in adolescence, music engenders a sense of belonging, remaining one of the most powerful indicators in recognising that you have that all-important something in common. Right across the board, from opera through country to pop, talking over classical pieces, old favourites and current loves conveys whether you share similar passions, even whether you like the same leisure activities and social events. In fact, finding someone that shares our particular passion can be a direct hit to our most intimate selves, arousing our emotions and breaking down those inhibiting barriers so often in place when we first meet someone.
If you are one of the millions of people looking to make new friends or find romance through online dating, you might want to seek out a niche dating site for music lovers. Most people who do find it so much easier to get talking to someone they already have something in common with.
In modern times, centuries after Shakespeare, some would say that music provides the soundtrack to our lives, accompanying our highs and lows, our everyday experiences and our relationships. But, is music the food of love? Certainly, you have only to look to your romantic memories. And what is life without love? Let the orchestra continue and the band play on!
Claire Gaskin is a social researcher who for many years worked in the counselling field. Claire now runs a successful online dating site for music lovers: http://www.music-mate.com