Location of surround speakers for music

For HT it's often recommended the side speakers be above the listening position, perhaps 18" or more. What about for multichannel music, and is there a good compromise if they are best at ear level?

Unless you need to create added height (angular incidence to cause the ear to perceive the sound as higher)all main and surround speakers should be at a height that conveys a realistic sound and surround stage height.

This may also be impacted by the vertical dispersion charachteristics of a particular speaker.

The suggestion of "above the listener" positioning you mention was originally based on attempting to create a less direct and more diffuse surround soundfield.

As well the placement of the side surrounds further to the rear (as opposed to directly to the side) was also to create the angular firing incidence that would make the ear/brain "hear" a more rearward directionality.

With 7.1 this is no longer needed.

In well recorded multi-channel music, the sides and rear speakers "should" only be for sonic support of that ambiant information that you would hear while actually sitting in the venue.

Using and positioning the speakers should be based on the best position for them to have the best reproduction. When listening to music, that is generally NOT with high firing angles.

Many SACDs have a specific setup for the speakers detailed in the included booklets. It is generally based on 5 identical channels at specific angles. This is different that what is generally recommended for home theater.
Thanks for the advice; I'll look at the booklets with my multi-channel SACDs. I just bought two pairs of 70's KEF Reference 102s with tweeters similar to those of my KEF Reference 104.2s to replace newer 200C and 102.2s with Uni-Q tweeters. I may need to lower the side speakers. Currently, I have only 5.1, the .1 being a Velodyne HGS-15 with SMS-1 DRC. Multi-channel music is limited to Blu-ray, because my Proceed PAV/PDSD pre/pro lacks HDMI. I've been looking at the Cary Cinema 11a as a replacement for the PAV/PDSD, so I can enjoy surround SACDs played on my Sony SCD-XA5400ES.

"well recorded" multi-channel music does not always limit the surround channels to ambience. Antiphonal music is the most obvious example. (Antiphonal music was composed for two or more orchestras located at different parts of the hall, often "talking" back and forth. It was once very common but has not received much attention in recorded music because mono and stereo could not reproduce it). Also, some multichannel recordings, typically chamber music but also jazz,isolate one or more instruments in each channel so as to reproduce the spatial effect of being in a small room with the musicians. IMHO, such recordings are the best use of the multichannel format.

Some music that has never been identified as antiphonal, such as Bach fugues, obviously is when you hear it played and recorded as such. A revelation. My example is SONY CD SS 87983 Titled " The four great Toccatas and Fugues, The four antiphonal organs of the cathedral of Freiburg played simultaneously by E Power Biggs".
The revelation into multi-channel for me was an Arts SACD of Corelli violin sonatas processed by a Cary Cinema 11a. The sense of presence was greater than I've ever experienced with stereo.