I think part of the problem here is that Mark Schacter is making analogies more in line with classical music. Probably most readers of this site are more into pop and jazz.
Classical music, the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky etc, is much more detailed and complex than the average pop song. The range from loud to soft is much greater; the changes and interactions of themes and melodies is much greater; the variety of different musical sounds emanating from the greater number of different musical instruments is much greater, and the technical skill of those handling the equipment (the musical instruments) is usually much greater.
Call me elitist if you like, but you can't compare the pianistic skills of Elton John with those of Frederic Chopin.
I thought a recent photo of Michael's on the homepage was very inspiring because it reminded me of the subtlety one finds in Classical music. It's an image of a porter in China carrying a heavy load as he climbs up some steps, but he's hardly visible due to the heavy mist.
I liken that image to the soft passage in a piece of music which is so quiet one has to listen very carefully. Yet despite it being quiet, the music is so powerful.