Hong Kong’s Folk Music and Local Culture: The Art of a Cantonese Blind Singer

In 1926, the blind singer Dou Wun arrived in Hong Kong from Guangzhou at the age of sixteen. For fifty years, he sang professionally in brothels, opium dens, teahouses, a radio station, private homes, and, when destitute, on street corners. In 1975, I arranged for him to sing for three-and-a-half months in the Fu Lung Teahouse in Sheung Wan. In this presentation, I will show images of Dou Wun, Hong Kong, and the Fu Lung Teahouse, and I will play the historical recordings of three kinds of songs Dou sang: Naamyam 南音 (“Southern Tone” Song), Lungzau 龍舟 (Beggar Song), and Baan’ngaan 板眼 (Brothel Song)—songs that had been widely heard in Cantonese-speaking communities around the Pearl River Delta but have long since disappeared.

About the Speaker

Bell Yung, Professor Emeritus of Music of the University of Pittsburgh, is an ethnomusicologist specializing on China. He has published ten books and over fifty scholarly articles, most recently, as author, translator, editor, or co-editor, are Remembering Rulan Chao Pian, Harvard’s First Female Professor of Chinese Heritage (2016, in Chinese), Uncle Ng Comes to America: Narrative Songs of Immigration and Love (2013), The Flower Princess, A Cantonese Opera (2010); Music and Cultural Rights (2009), and The Last of China’s Literati: The Music, Poetry and Life of Tsar Teh-yun (2008).

This event is jointly sponsored by the School of Music, the UBC Hong Kong Studies Initiative, the Centre for Chinese Research, the Department of Asian Studies, the Department of History, the Department of Theatre and Film, and St. John’s College.

Reception in honor of Prof. Bell Yung begins at 6 pm.

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