The Why of Music was first published in 1969. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In his many tears of teaching and writing about music Professor Ferguson has given much thought to the question of the why of music — why does music affect us as it does, why are we deeply moved by some music by not by other music, what is it about music that "sends" us, and where does it send us? In this book he explores such questions in depth and provides intriguing answers. The discussions are presented in the form of dialogues between the author and several friends.
As Professor Ferguson explains, the book is intended to take the reader on a guided tour, a tour which follows, in part, the familiar roads of formal music appreciation but which leads more often into byways where, almost hidden by the brilliant Hows that line the more familiar roads, lurks the essential Why of music. He describes this Why as the fertilizing commerce between music and human experience—a portrayal, not of the tangible facts of experience, but of the concern aroused by our encounter with those facts. He explains that while avant-garde abstractionism is concerned only with music as art—a concern too specialized for the general music lover to grasp and too narrow to sustain interest—the Why of enduring music lies in its endeavor to portray experience as it lives in Everyman's mind.