The development of lyrics only manifested really itself in the second half of this century. Oh sure, there was music with lyrics before this century, but they were stuck in the idiotic religious purgatory, never developing. Perhaps you are referring to Melody's Saddest Time, because you won't get any argument from me there. From ska punk to rap, there is no melody today. I doubt there are even focusing on melody now. It's all lyrics now.

Probably because most of today's musicians are trained differently than before. So Trent Reznor was bred on classical piano. Tori Amos was a genius in classical music. I think they are both exceptions. Note that rappers such as Eminem are called "artists", not musicians. You're right, that isn't really "music" in a true sense, he just utters lyrics. Trent Reznor didn't stick to his classical roots. I don't listen to NIN a lot, but I do know from my limited collection that his music rocks. Perhaps he is more interested in beat than say, the melodic algorithms that Chopin was so into.

And then there is techno. I am particular to Aphex Twin, and he is a musician, and an excellent one at that. Go listen to some of his stuff, you might be surprised by the lack of lyrics and the interesting melodies.

My musical background was completely classical, I played the violin for a good 14 years and the piano for 9. Unlike some young musical ignorati today, such as my old roommate, I appreciate classical music, but I also like modern music. Some teenage fools today only listen to new music and refuse to even give classical a try. Look, I composed classical music in the past, but that doens't make me narrow-minded toward other types of music. Frankly, I got sick of the lack of lyrics after a while, and I got into other types of music, from alternative to rap to techno. I still have a huge collection of Bach, Beethoven and Chopin, but I also have Blink 182, Goo Goo Dolls, RATM, KMFDM, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. People laugh at me for my classical tastes, but screw them.

Dance tastes change as well. Waltzes and tangos were an art back then, I've played many a violin piece designed for them, but since people now think they're "kooky", they've been replaced by newer stuff. Frankly, I think the dances today are a farce myself, but I can listen to a good disco piece without gagging.

Music is just evolving. Sure, there is plenty of rubbish along the way, such as ska punk and Cantopop, but they will be forgotten. Lyrics now have the emphasis, and in a way, that is good. Four centuries of melodies can get sickening after a while. Today, we only know the famous composers. In 100 years time, nobody will remember the Spice Girls or those anonymous punk bands my roommate used to listen to. Now, that is horrid.

Besides, I like Wesley Willis. He has no melody whatsoever, his lyrics don't make sense, but I still listen to him. I find a certain charm to Rock over London, Rock on Chicago! and Disharmony Hellbus. So sue me.

Whoops, forgot about opera. Annoyingly moderate? What the hell is that supposed to mean?   :)