My Western Culture articles/lectures 3: Music, part 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — This is the article I posted for my students to read before class last week. I didn’t lecture, but played the selections indicated in the article and made brief comments. ———————— This is the first article about Western music. Please read this before class. We will listen to the music in class, instead of my giving a lecture. Western Music How is Western music different from other cultures’ music? One major difference is the pitch 音乐音高 of the notes used. Most world music, and Chinese music, is based on a pentatonic (five-tone) scale 五声音阶: do re mi sol la (do) Most Western music is based on diatonic 全音阶 (or heptatonic – seven-tone) scales, such as the familiar: do re mi fa sol la ti (do) Putting it another way, let’s look at the keyboard of a piano. You can play pentatonic tunes using only the black keys. To play diatonic tunes, you also need some (or all) of the white keys. The origin of the diatonic scale dates back to ancient Greece, but perhaps earlier cultures in the Near East also used it. Seven-tone scales are also part of music from the southern part of India. The ...

My Western Culture lectures/articles 2

Second lecture. I removed the links of baike.baidu.com, since the entries there are in Chinese. Western Civilization, a quick summary – part 2 Post-classical Era Middle Ages 中世纪 (476 – roughly 1450): Also known as the medieval period of Europe, this period was characterized by many migrations and conflicts among Germanic 日耳曼 tribes who had lived north of the Roman Empire. Once they settled down, these tribes developed into kingdoms and finally nations. The nations of modern Europe can trace their origins to this period in history. Meanwhile, the Christian Church became a powerful “glue” that kept the European nations from fracturing further, preserved what learning was left from the fall of Rome, and finally became a fearsome political power. Muslims 穆斯林的人 put pressure on Europe from the south, and the Huns 匈奴人 and the Mongols 蒙古人 from the east. The Byzantine Empire 拜占庭帝国 (Eastern Roman Empire) became a unique culture quite different from Western Europe, especially after Christianity had its first great schism 基督教大分裂 (split) in the 11th century. Feudalism 封建主义 was the primary political and economic system in Western Europe. By the 13th century, however, townspeople had gained some independence and rights of self-governance from feudal lords. Several ...

My Western Culture lectures/articles 1 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — You can blame David H over at my Facebook page for these multiple postings. He wanted to see them. Seriously, I’d welcome comments and suggestions. Keep in mind I am writing for English as a Foreign Language students whose familiarity with Western history is spotty. Also keep in mind that their appearance on these pages automatically gives them copyright protection. So, watch your fair usage there, kids! ********* BEGINNINGS of WESTERN CULTURE and CIVILIZATION Chinese culture developed among peoples who were closely associated in language and culture. By contrast, the culture of the West developed not in one place, but in many; not by one people, but by several separate (and contentious) civilizations. Taken as a whole, Western culture and civilization is as old as China’s, but its development has been comparatively disjointed and discontinuous. Western culture is primarily the product of three great cultural movements: ancient Greece, ancient Rome and Christianity. But, underlying these three are more ancient civilizations dating back to 3500 BC or later: Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Hebrews (the Jews). Clustered as they were around the Mediterranean Sea, the ancient civilizations of the West borrowed and traded ideas as much as they did ...
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