This is an excellent and thought provoking question.
Off the bat, let me state that I don't consciously judge the quality of music. Rather, the music makes some sort of connection with me, which can be in a number of ways. At times I might analyse a song I enjoy. The process is rarely the reverse. I don't analyse a song against a set of critera and then conclude that the song must be good. That said, on occassions I have come to enjoy a song after analysing it. This is not because it ticks all the boxes, but rather because I have come to understand it to a greater extent.
I don't think that there is one element that connects all the music I enjoy. Rather, the music I enjoy proably falls into one of the following categories:
1. It evokes an emotional response by triggering a memory of a time, place or person that I remember with fondness
2. It evokes an emotional response through its mood or style
3. It evokes an emotional response through an appreciation of the circumstances under which the song was written or the situation that the creation of the work was responding to
4. It evokes an intellectual resonse through an appreciation of the techniques used in its creation or performance
5. It evokes a physical response (eg, foot tapping or head bopping)
Some of my favourite pieces of music fall into multiple categories. For instance, JS Bach's St Matthew Passion belongs to categories 1, 2, 3 & 4
The relationship between the evokation and emotion and musical stimulus would make for a fascinating in depth study, perphaps in the realm of psychology. I would love to dig into it but I am afraid it would take wiser heads than mine.
Edited by MoatsArt - 3/28/14 at 3:09am