Taking as assumptions that music is socially situated and culturally significant, this course explores the multiple approaches to the understanding of Chinese music and culture beyond the conventional paradigms of art for art sake elitist approach to study music. Music is at once a cultural product and cultural process. To adequately understand music is to first understand culture and its specificities. The age of viewing music simply as a product devoid of culture is fast fading. The view that music is an art above everyday life must be challenged. Like other domains of culture, music is intrinsically linked to the culture’s philosophy, social imaginary, cultural dynamics and preference. This course introduces students to both theoretical framework on culture and music in relationship to selected case studies from Chinese music. The objective is help students view Chinese music through issues of musical change, interchange, adaptation, appropriation in the age of digital communication and intense globalization. Topics under discussion range from ideals of Chinese music aesthetics, China music and literati culture, the idea of “orientalism” in Western art music compositions, theories of globalization to Chinese responses to the importation of Western and other types of music after the May Fourth movement. The goals of this course are to extend the scope of understanding Chinese music by emphasizing music as a cultural phenomenon rooted in philosophical foundation, adaptation of Western music, the nature of Chinese culture in the world, in order to illustrate the thesis that any attempt to understand music requires taking culture as a starting point and going beyond sound and what is given on the printed page.