Daoist Music in Hong Kong
A brief account
Daoism has a relatively short history in Hong Kong. In the beginning years of the 1930s, organized Daoist temples of the Complete Perfection tradition ( 全真派 Quanzhen Pai ), exemplified by the Fung Ying Seen Koon ( 蓬瀛仙館 Pengyin Xian Guan ), were set up one by one in Hong Kong. From then on, Daoism began to spread in society within the borders of the whole Hong Kong.
Origins and Development
The music used in the temples of the Complete Perfection tradition of Hong Kong was originally spread into Hong Kong via the Triple Origin Temple of Guangzhou ( 三元宮 Sanyuan Gong ), from the Temple of Emptiness ( 沖虛觀 Chongxu Guan ) on Mt. Luofu in Guangdong. In the course of its spread, several elder senior Daoist priests who lived in Hong Kong successively played important roles. These senior Daoist priests were Hou Baoyuan, Zhou Daozhi, Liang Dehua (Chengde), Mai Bingji, and Deng Jiuyi. Due to direct transmission and inheritance, and the fact that those who originally taught scriptural confession rituals were mainly senior Daoist priests, the scriptural rhymes and music used today in different temples of Hong Kong are basically alike except for slight differences in some respects. After being spread from Guangzhou, the Daoist music of Hong Kong was influenced by diffusion and inheritance over the decades by Hong Kong's regional cultures such as Guangdong music, Guangdong opera and Guangdong tunes, and other religious music such as that of Confucianism and Buddhism. Daoist music with Hong Kong local characteristics has already come into existence.
Content and form
Hong Kong's Daoist music can be classified into scriptural rhythms and instrumental music in terms of the music form. The music of scriptural rhythms is the principal part of Hong Kong's Daoist music. It adheres to the content of scriptures and permeates through the whole process of all kinds of rites. Scriptural rhythms are sung and recited by the full-time Daoist priests in temples (who are habitually called "Masters of Scriptures ( 經生 Jingsheng )"). The instrumental music has its peculiarity in Hong Kong's Daoist music. The accompaniment following the tune, inserting musical instruments into the singing and recitation of scriptural rhythms, is the main part of instrumental music. In addition, instrumental music also includes the beating of drums and cymbals before ascending the altar during rituals performed by Daoist believers, and the playing of music tunes with flutes and horns during pauses during rituals when the Daoist believers perform Magic Skills ( 法術 Fashu ) without singing or recitating of scriptural rhythms. The musicians in charge of the instrumental performances are habitually called "Masters of Ritual Offerings ( 醮師 Jiaoshi ) ". They are professional musicians rather than Daoist temple priests.