In case you haven’t heard about The Taruskin Challenge, here’s a quick preview:
Richard Taruskin is a musicologist from UC, Berkeley. He wrote The Oxford History of Western Music, a 5-volume, 4000-page history and reflection on classical music right up to the end of the 20th century.
Mark Samples and Zach Wallmark are PhD students who have challenged themselves to read every page of every volume. Once or twice a week, they post their thoughts and reflections on what they’re currently reading. Right now, they’re about 500 pages through volume III – Wagner!
We’re all guilty of taking for granted why things are the way they are. Do you know why your piano has 88 keys? Do you know why audiences don’t clap in between movements? Do you know why classical musicians don’t improvise anymore? Do you know why we do what we do?
I’m not suggesting that The Taruskin Challenge or Taruskin himself offer answers to every question of this sort, but they’ll definitely broaden your perspective whether you consider yourself a classical musician, jazz musician or otherwise.