PekingX: 04332960X: Music in the 20th Century

School: PekingX
Course Code: 04332960X
Classes Start: 23 Sep 2013
Course Length: 12 weeks


The only requirement is an interest and curiosity about music; no previous knowledge of music is required.

PekingX: 04332960x - Music in the 20th Century

Music in the 20th Century

The course aims to provide a clear view of the historical development of music and emphasizes the training of aural skills. (Taught in Mandarin.)

About this Course

*Note - This is an Archived course*

This is a past/archived course. At this time, you can only explore this course in a self-paced fashion. Certain features of this course may not be active, but many people enjoy watching the videos and working with the materials. Make sure to check for reruns of this course.

Course videos are presented in Mandarin with English subtitles.

If you are having difficulty viewing this video in mainland China, you can also find it here.


This course was first offered at Peking University in 2008 as a Public Elective Course, and subsequently as a Course for General Education. It is now being offered globally as one of Peking University’s MOOCs. 

Addressing students' interests in 20th century Western Music Culture and incorporating music theory, the course examines 20th century Western music. By combining theory and practice, the course not only aims to provide a clear view of the historical development of the music, but also emphasizes the training of aural skills and the accumulation of musical knowledge. The course covers not only classical music, such as neo-classical, expressionism, nationalism and other genres, but also explores in depth jazz, rock, and pop music of the 20th century. While studying Chinese music and other forms of national folk music in the 20th century world music context, students will also analyze large and complex works such as opera, musicals, and film music. By enhancing students’ understanding of 20th century Western music (classical music, pop music, folk music, comprehensive art) as a foundation, three core questions will be addressed: what is music, what is the 20th century Western music, and what is effective listening? The course aims to guide students to examine the three listening modes of 20th century Western music with the hope of forming a diverse and multi-faceted, knowledge and understanding of the 20th-century Western music culture phenomena, expanding students’ horizons, enhancing their ability to reason by analogy, and promoting cross-disciplinary, creative development.



The course is one of the PKU-DeTao MOOCs, which is a joint effort by Peking University and DeTao Masters Academy. 该课程是“北大-德稻网络开放课程”中的一门,由北京大学与德稻教育联合提供。

Ways to take this edX course:

Simply Audit this Course

Audit this course for free and have complete access to all of the course material, tests, and the online discussion forum. You decide what and how much you want to do.

Course Staff

  • Bryan Minghui

    Bryan Minghui

    2007年任教于北京大学艺术学院音乐系,复旦大学中文系文艺学博士后,中央音乐学院西方音乐历史博士,音乐人类学硕士,钢琴艺术表演与教学学士。崇尚大学之长、贵在综合,艺术养心、音乐化人之教育理念;倡导消弭专业界限、音乐与多学科交叉互补之治学思路,研究领域涉及音乐史学、音乐美学、音乐人类学、电影音乐、音乐聆听技能训练、音乐欣赏、钢琴演奏、中国音乐表演等领域,多次赴国外讲学交流,举办各类音乐活动。公开发表文字逾40余万,代表作品《20世纪西方音乐中的“中国因素”》(北京大学人文社科成果二等奖)、《约翰•凯奇音乐美学思想研究》、《聆听贝多芬》、《马勒< 大地之歌 >研究》(编)、《西方音乐史教程》(合著)、《西方后现代音乐研究新动向》、《困境中的抉择:中国风格》、《无声》(译著)等。先后开设《音乐与文化专题系列研究》、《20世纪西方音乐》、《大师电影创作中的音乐研究》、《音乐学原典研读》、《钢琴音乐实践与理论》、《中国音乐理论与实践》、《中国传统音乐文化研究》(英文)等课程。曾获中国优秀博士后、北京大学教学优秀奖、北京大学优秀班主任一等奖、北京大学优秀德育奖、北京大学青年教师教学技能演示大赛人文社科组一等奖第一名、北京市青年教师教学基本功大赛人文社科组一等奖第一名,全国青年教师教学基本功大赛二等奖,首都劳动奖章等。目前正致力于《20世纪西方音乐》、《电影音乐》、《中国传统音乐》(中英文)等教材与专著的研究与写作。 2009年春,毕明辉以义工身份加入北京大学中乐学社(前身笛箫学社),出任指导教师与民族管弦乐团指挥至今,在帮助学社参与北大众多校园学术、公益、传习活动之外,先后指导“弦动“、“云之南”、“五周年社庆”、“喜洋洋新年音乐会”、“‘乐以化学’国际化学年专庆音乐会”、“‘乐以感恩’北京论坛之夜专场音乐会、“‘跨越时空的交汇’北大中乐与台大薰风国乐团联合音乐会”、“‘中乐之声’爱丁堡大学音乐会”、“‘中国之声’爱丁堡皇家教堂音乐会”等演出。2012年,中乐学社校园音乐活动被正式立为北京大学系列课程《中国音乐理论与实践》。同年,该社获得北京大学学生活动最高奖“创新奖”。 


    Dr. Bryan Minghui BI, PhD (Musicology, Central Conservatory of Music), Post-PhD (Fudan University), associate professor at Peking University, School of Arts since 2007. He firmly believes in teaching beyond the professional field of music and advocates cross faculty learning. His area of research includes the history of music, musical aesthetics, anthropology of music, film music, music hearing and performance techniques etc. He has also been involved in lecturing and sharing overseas, as well as in the organization of various activities related to music. 


    Some of his works include Chinese Characteristics in Western Music in the 20th Century (Shanghai Conservatory of Music Press, Shanghai, 2007), The Study on John Cage's Music Aesthetics (Central Conservatory of Music Press, 2011), Enjoying the Music of L. V. Beethoven (Anhui Wenyi Publishing House, 2011) etc, and the courses offered by him include The Study on Culture and Music in Cross Discipline Issues, The Study on Film Music, The History of Music Instruments, The Source Reading on Musicology, The Study onFilm Music in Masterpieces, The Enjoyment of Music, Western Music in the 20th Century, The Study on Traditional Chinese Music (English), Piano Training Minor, etc. 


    Dr. BI was awarded the Chinese Outstanding Post Doctorate, Peking University Outstanding Teaching Award, Peking University Most Outstanding Class Tutor Award, and came in first for both the Peking University Young Teachers' Education Skills Display Competition and Peking Young Teachers' Education Skills Competition. Currently, he is working on textbooks and research works like 20th Century Western Music, Film Music, Chinese Traditional Music (English) etc. Dr. BI became voluntary director at the Peking University Chinese Music Institute (previously known as the Society for Di and Xiao) in spring of 2009, and has been their teacher mentor and conductor since then. In helping the institute with its campus services in academic, public-welfare and musicianship development activities, Dr. BI has successively participated inconcerts including Vibrating of the Heartstring, Sounds of the Southwest, Exultation: the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the Society of Di and Xiao, Radiant with Happiness and Joy, Music and Joy in Chemistry in celebration of the international year of chemistry 2011, The Night of Beijing Forum 2011, Confluence of Times and Spaces: Joint Concert of PKUCMI and NTUCO, The Sound of PKUCMI in Reid Concert Hall and The Sound of China in Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2012, the routine campus activities of PKUCMI has been granted as a selective course in Peking University named as “Theory and Practice of Chinese Music”. Meanwhile, the institute was also awarded the Innovation Award, the highest award in Peking University for students’ campus activities.


The only requirement is an interest and curiosity about music; no previous knowledge of music is required.


How can I get access to reading materials?

Please download the materials from designated websites. Western Music in the 20th Century is the main textbook.

How can I have access to the listening resources?

Please visit the designated websites to complete the listening exercises.

How can I finish assignments?

Written and listening exercises will be a part of this course. Please submit them to the specified mailbox after completion.

What will the exams be like for this course?

The exams will be open-book written assignments.

How will scores be calculated?

The grading weights will vary per topics and tasks. Generally, all students can pass the course by completing all specified assignments. The passing score will be primarily decided by the final exam. 

Can I submit graded assignments late?


How can I best engage with online learning for this course?

Apart from the questions gained from the micro lectures, students can also get their questions answered via e-mail, and have access to the discussion forum and online interest groups.

What is the role of the on-campus class for this course?

The on-campus course will serve students who can attend the class for lectures, which are then recorded and released online.

Will I fail to keep up in the course due to my lack of understanding about the field of music?

Our content is adjusted to a general audience. 

Are there content knowledge pre-requisites for this course?

An earnest desire to learn and a proactive, professional attitude are more important than prior knowledge of content matter. The learners are expected to absorb the basic content points quickly and use them as a base for further learning.

Which is more important for this course, knowledge or ability?

This course is most concerned on the development of music listening ability, though some knowledge of music will be helpful. 

What is the aim of the music puzzle assignment within the course?

The purpose of the assignment is to prepare and develop audiometry and memory skills.

Will the course provide information about music composition and technology?

No. Music composition mastery requires long-term training, usually at a conservatory level.

How can I further develop my composition skills to complement this class?

We would recommend studying musical scores and training to imitate original works, though this can be quite difficult. If your goal is to write songs, it can be useful to learn musical rearrangement, though that this not the same as music composition. 
考虑到学生学业的情况,不可能透支如此巨大的时间精力去完成第六题中的训练。教师在此提供个人经验:研究乐谱,发现问题,再去阅读,寻找答案。最好用的办法是大规模作仿作练习。如果动辄可以写出几可乱真的德彪西风格或贝多芬风格或老肖风格或某种爵士风格,不是不易,而是很难,却真正是在与大师思维对话。目前全球创作的主力形式还是歌曲,但实际内质都是在皮毛的海顿、莫扎特时代的音乐技术上,披上流行乐队音色的外衣,塞入歌词,瞒天过海。音乐展开缺乏基本的动力,全无起码的原创力。以上所提到的方法,很可行,却很艰苦,作为建议,提供给有志发展作曲技术的同学。提醒一句,学习作曲,需要明确自己究竟想以怎样的目标来驱动自己的学习,如果就是想写写我上面提到的流行歌,那我觉得,学学编配就行,rearrangement 与composition,根本不是一回事。

Will the course be available in English?

The videos in the course will include English subtitles. However, the rest of the course content will only be available in Mandarin.