“auditory cheesecake, an exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots of at least six of our
mental faculties.” If it vanished from our species, he said, “the rest of our lifestyle would be virtually
unchanged.” Others have argued that, on the contrary, music, along with art and literature, is part of
what makes people human; its absence would have a brutalising eﬀect. Philip Ball, a British science writer
and an avid music enthusiast, comes down somewhere in the middle. He says that music is ingrained in
our auditory, cognitive and motor functions. We have a music instinct as much as a language instinct,
and could not rid ourselves of it if we tried.