This was a semester long project. Throughout the semester, graduate students (many of whom had little previous exposure to the course material) studied the history of Chinese music theory, the Jesuit missionaries who transmitted it back to western Europe, and the reception of Chinese culture there in the 18th century. The website commemorating the exhibit and giving more information can be found at hcs.harvard.edu/soundingchina
This activity took place as part of an ongoing study of the various conventional forms in Classical music (sonata, concerto, etc.), and also contributed to a larger, semester-long conversation about the ways in which we deal with the nebulous concept of "style" in music. Coming into the class itself, students possessed a basic knowledge of musical rudiments such as melody and harmony. For this particular activity, students had already been introduced to the idea of a "Theme and Variations" form, and had listened to several examples.