'IF music be the food of love, play on,' wrote Shakespeare at the beginning of Twelfth Night, a dark comedy of unrequited love and mistaken identity. Admittedly, Duke Orsino, who spoke the words, has had enough of the tune by the end of his opening soliloquy, but the point has been made - nothing helps a romantic mood like music. Music is the essential accompaniment to your candlelight dinner - even for those who do not particularly like being serenaded by Filipino roving minstrels performing Volare. It is as indispensable as roses and champagne. Dancing has always been an important part of the courtship process and requires, of course, musical accompaniment. Slow dancing in particular will have been the beginning of many romantic or, at any rate, sexual encounters for many people and nothing triggers the fond memories like hearing the old tunes. 'They're playing our tune, darling', is a line that has hauled many a reluctant hoofer who reckons that he or she - usually he - is long past it, back on to the dance floor for a waltz down memory lane. What 'our tune' happens to be, of course, depends on your age. Self-consciously romantic popular music was very much the order of the day from the 1930s until the early 1960s. Consider the songs of George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer and the rest of what is now regarded as the canon of great American songwriters. It was pure romance in almost all cases. Romantic music from this era on cassette or compact disc is a perfect Valentine's Day gift and is readily available from larger music stores like Tower Records in Times Square, HMV in Causeway Bay, or the larger branches of KPS. A disc or tape will not only be enjoyed on the day but is there for a long time afterwards to replay the memories. For instant romance, try Frank Sinatra's Songs for Swinging Lovers, Ella Fitzgerald's achingly beautiful The Intimate Ella, or any of the numerous anthologies of Miles Davis' ballad playing that include Rodgers and Hart's anthem for the day, My Funny Valentine. Rock 'n' roll was, by nature, less romantically minded but had its softer moments like Elvis Presley singing Love Me Tender, The Beatles' Yesterday, by Lennon and McCartney, or George Harrison's Something. That Frank Sinatra used to introduce his performance of Something as 'the most beautiful love song ever written, by John Lennon and Paul McCartney', must have annoyed Harrison. He wrote it as a tribute to his then-wife, Patti Boyd. The former Mrs Harrison has a special place in the annals of romantic popular music having also inspired two of the greatest love songs of the 1970s - Layla and Wonderful Tonight, both by her second husband, Eric Clapton, who also subsequently divorced her. Sometimes romance is not meant to be durable. Then there was I'm Not In Love. Few who were teenagers in the 1970s will not have paired off to the 10 cc ballad. The 1980s were a more cynical era, with Tina Turner asking sceptically What's Love Got To Do With It? but implying the answer was 'everything'. Crowded House, however, proved that the era of the big romantic ballad was not yet over with one of the few standards of the era Don't Dream It's Over. The classical canon is also full of romantic music in the emotional rather than musical sense of the term. If the love of your life cannot stand electric guitars or drum machines, how about a recording of one of the great romantic operas; Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, Bizet's Carmen, or Verdi's Aida ? Valentine's Day would not be complete without music. Whatever 'your tune' may be, someone is playing it somewhere.