Bell Yung — a US-based scholar
Douwun — a blind musician

Bell Yung is an eminent scholar of Cantonese opera and Guangdong song-art. Born in Shanghai, Yung graduated from the Wah Yan College Kowloon and furthered his study in the US, where he received two doctorates: first a doctorate in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then a doctorate in music at the Harvard University. Yung returned to Hong Kong in late 1970s and became a Professor of Music at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Chair of Music Department at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). At present Yung is a Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh in the States. Bell Yung left the States for Hong Kong in 1974 to undertake his research on Cantonese opera. He happened to have heard Douwun’s nanyin for the first time in the Goethe-Institut. After that he watched him perform in various places like the Art Museum of CUHK and the St. John's Cathedral. Profoundly impressed, Yung decided to make a recording of Douwun’s performance so as to preserve the first-hand experience of nanyin song-art.
Forty hours of Precious Recording
in Fu Lung Teahouse

Teahouse was one of the stages of nanyin singers. To recreate the environment of nanyin performance, Bell Yung opted for Fu Lung Teahouse in Sheung Wan as the venue for recording. Having survived through half a century, Fu Lung was at that time the oldest teahouse in Hong Kong. There, ceiling fans were still circling, and spittoons sit besides the tables. Traditional teapots were used and servers cried their dishes. Patrons hanged their well-crafted birdcages up on the window and enjoyed their tea at leisure. Yung, supported by the Centre of Asian Studies of the University of Hong Kong, talked the teahouse into offering a place for Douwun’s recording. From 11 March to 26 June 1975, Douwun sang in Fu Lung Teahouse every Monday, Wednesday and Friday after lunch. Each session lasted for an hour with ten minutes break. The whole recording comprised 42 sessions, which made up 16 songs. After Douwun finished most of the songs he had sung in the past, he improvised a six-hour song that narrates the story of his life. It was called Reminiscence of Douwun the Blind.

Reconstructing the Story of Hong Kong

This recording of forty-some hours of nanyin is a rarity and a treasure for its artistic, academic and historic values. In 2004, Bell Yung collaborated with the Hong Kong Museum of History in publishing a DVD, A Wanderer’s Memory of Hong Kong, which recounts the life of Douwun. In 2008, the Chinese Music Archive of the Department of Music at the Chinese University of Hong Kong organized the publication of the “Hong Kong Cultural Treasure” series, sponsored by the Ho Iu Kwong Charity Foundation. For this project Bell Yung provided the master tapes of his recording. Three albums were issued by 2011:

Voice from the Heart, selections of blindman nanyin (2-Disc)
Fifty Years in Hong Kong, the complete reminiscence of Douwun the blind (6-Disc)
The Evanescent Music, ban yan, long zhou, yue ou (1-Disc)

Other songs will be published in the coming years.

Recordings of Douwun at the Fu Lung Teahouse
(by Bell Yung):

(1) Mourning for My Lady, complete
(2) The Courtesan’s Devotion (aka Mourning for My Man), complete
(3) Farewell My Concubine, complete
(4) Sorrow of the Traveller, complete
(5) Banshee’s Revenge on a Lothario, complete
(6) The Demise of Second Sister You, complete
(7) Ho Wai Kwan Laments in the Fifth Watch of Night, complete
(8) Poem Purloined (excerpt from Story of the Jade Hairpin)
(9) Miserable Liang Tianlai, 7 sections
(10) The Advent of Guanyin, 3 chapters
(11) Tiger Killer Wu Song, complete 14 sections
(12) Poem Purloined (excerpt from Story of the Jade Hairpin), remake
(13) Tiger Killer Wu Song, remake

Recordings of Douwun at the Fu Lung Teahouse
(by Bell Yung) (cont.):

(14) Bi Rong Offers to the Dead (Excerpt from Wreaking Havoc in Magistrate Mei’s), long zhou
(15) Meng Lijun Feels the Pulse (Excerpt from Romance of the Next Life)
(16) Wu Song Offers to the Ghost (Excerpt from Tiger Killer Wu Song), long zhou
(17) Wu Song Kills his Brother’s Wife (Excerpt from Tiger Killer Wu Song), long zhou
(18) Wu Song Havocs the Lion House (Excerpt from Tiger Killer Wu Song), long zhou
(19) The First Penal Servitude (Excerpt from Tiger Killer Wu Song), long zhou
(20) Wu Song beats Jiang the Door God in a Drunken Stupor (Excerpt from Tiger Killer Wu Song), long zhou
(21) Wishes from the Eight Immortals, complete
(22) Blessings from the Heavenly Palace, complete
(23) Reminiscence of Douwun the Blind, complete