A professional philosopher tackles a thorny question that has probably occurred to almost every music lover. The deceptively simple title hides a field of land mines. Many a really fine mind has hit them. Bicknell gives a whirlwind tour of thoughts on the subject from the ancient Greeks to the present and, unusual for a philosopher, draws on many disciplines other than her own. She also draws on a wide range of music, classical and pop. However, her relative unfamiliarity with the span of classical music often lets her fall into sloppy speech, simply because she hasn't heard enough. Nevertheless, her lapses are few. For this kind of text, she writes clearly (at least you're not reading Kierkegaard or Kant), but be aware that this is indeed philosophy. The thought is pretty dense. I managed about ten minutes a shot (3 minutes a page) before I had to put the book down for a while and digest. All this is just to say that it won't read as quickly as a Robert Parker. Still, it's a slim book of a little more than 150 pages, and Bicknell illumines many dark corners. She herself admits that her conclusions are provisional, but even her thoughts along the way grip you. I particularly liked her notions of the "social" nature of music and of music as a "cognitive object" as well as a mood-alterer. I wouldn't call this an easy read, but I did enjoy it quite a bit.