MUSI2010 Music of China
Course Type: core/compulsory for music majors, free elective for others
Prerequisite: NIL
Instructor: Professor CHAN Hing-yan
Semester: First Semester 2023/24
Time: 10:30am – 12:20pm, Wednesday
Venue: CPD-LG1.22 Rehearsal Room
This course presents the essential features of the music of China, its role in Chinese culture and history, and its position in world music. Subjects will include the qin and other musical instruments, theatrical genres such as kunqu, Peking opera and Cantonese opera, narrative songs such as Peking drum song, Suzhou tanci, and Cantonese nanyin, folk songs, and music in Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist rituals. The course aims not only to introduce students to traditional Chinese music, but also to explore the nature of Chinese culture through its musical practices. Important works of Chinese music will be introduced, as well as issues such as change/stasis, politics/aesthetics, theory/practice, literati/masses, professional/amateur, ritual/entertainment, home-grown/foreign-influenced, and Han/Minority.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • demonstrate the knowledge and an appreciation of various genres and styles of Chinese music;
  • demonstrate the knowledge on the social, regional, and political contexts in which Chinese music developed, and the aesthetics and ideology that inspired the performers, composers, and listeners.
4 Short Tasks 28%
2 Listening Quizzes
(2 x 15%)
1 Final Test 42%
  • Qin and Pipa
  • Traditional Ensembles
  • The New Solo Tradition
  • The Modern Chinese Orchestra
  • Introduction to Narrative Singing/Song
  • Introduction to Chinese Opera
  • Composition in Western Idiom
  • Chan, Sau-yan. Improvisation in a Ritual Context: The Music of Cantonese Opera. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1992.
  • Goldman, Andrea S. Opera and the City: The Politics of Culture in Beijing, 1770-1990. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012.
  • Jones, Stephen. Folk Music of China: Living Instrumental Traditions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Kraus, Richard Curt. Piano and Politics in China: Middle-Class Ambitions and the Struggle over Western Music. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • Liang, Mingyue. Music of the Billion. Wilhelmshaven: Heinrichshofen’s Verlag, 1985.
  • Provine, Robert and others (ed.). The Garland Encyclopaedia of World Music. Volume 7: East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea. New York: Routledge, 2002.
  • Witzleben, Lawrence. “Silk and Bamboo” Music in Shanghai: The Jiangnan Sizhu Instrumental Ensemble Tradition. Kent: Kent State University Press, 1995.
  • Yu, Siu-wah. Such are the Fading Sounds. Hong Kong: International Association of Theatre Critics, 2005.
  • Yung, Bell. Cantonese Opera: Performance as Creative Process. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.