I'll start this off with 2 quotes from 2 of the greats:
Jazz composer and big band leader Duke Ellington: "If it sounds good, it IS good."
Iconic jazz drummer and leader of The Jazz Messengers, the late Art Blakey: "Music is supposed to wash away the dust of everyday life."
What say you? Is music merely a commodity or a diversion or a background sound for dinner? Or does music serve a higher purpose in our society? Can it enrich our souls and our lives and make us better people?
My perception of music in the context of the LDS experience (I was a convert from 1974 until 1988) was that it was an important, integral part of worship, including performances of secular, instrumental classical music. But that changed over time, and now is just a part of an unimaginative and boring ritual. LDS hymns only, please.
My most "spiritual" experiences in the LDS church were with music. I think music is one of the easiest ways to get us into our creative right brains which really digs into the depths of our soul and gives life it's beauty. Even now, music can give me the thrilling chills and warmth of heart that I remember from Mormonism. I think music can be very inspiring and enriching.
I would say that music is very important and I agree, the most spiritual moments from the church coincided with music, almost exclusively for me. Music, I think, is important to fill a spiritual void, at least in my life. It kind of reminds me of a Matthew Arnold poem "Dover Beach", where he asserts that due to lack of religion and faith in the world, people need to be more involved in the arts. I sing in choirs and it's a great experience to look out on other people when you're singing and see that they are enjoying and understanding what your doing. While I'm not going into music, I think it will always be and needs to be a integral part of my life.
I would have to agree that music used to be more rich in the church. I was a life long member until recently. Now the hymns have been so watered down.. no wonderful cultural sponsoring of music. I remember performances of self written plays and musicals, classical music, and more when I was young. I feel gratitude that I had that growing up and I was given opportunities to sing and perform. I do not see that happening anymore in the church.