Chinese Music has gone through tremendous transformations since the end of the 19th century with the arrival of foreign knowledge and cultural practice. The word “modern” (modeng), first introduced in China’s metropolus Shanghai for all things Western in the earlier 20th century, has also been utilized by Chinese musicians and music scholars of the time to refer to music influenced by Western musical practice, preference, and aesthetics. This talk will trace the beginning of Chinese modern music starting with the first group of Chinese students who studied in Japan and their collective effort in building China’s new music and education. The bulk of the presentation will be divided into two parts: namely the development of China’s music in the academy and vernacular popular music. Taken as a whole, this bifurcated history of music making contributed to a modern Chinese music that continues to defy the distinction between high low culture and Western and indigenous sentiments. Considering almost a century’s development in establishing China’s new music, this talk will conclude with the development of China’ avant-garde tradition since the opening of China in the 1980s and the recent return of traditional music as China’s new modern music.