Interview 採訪:The Library/ 聲音圖書館
Transcription 謄錄: Emma Wu/ 吳嘉曈
Editing 編輯、整理: Law Yuk-mui/ 羅玉梅
Tai Po Salvation Army Community Centre/ 大埔的救世軍社區中心
Hong Kong Railway Museum /香港鐵路博物館
Tascam DR 40/ Handheld 手持錄音/ Recorder mounted on tripod 錄音機置於三腳架
Ms. Au: Founder of the Hakka shange 山歌 (mountain song) gathering; has served at the Tai Po Salvation Army Community Centre for nearly 20 years; her husband is Hakka.
Sister Kwan: In her 70s; grew up in Tai Po; learned how to read through singing shange.
Gwai Ying: a New Territories native in her 70s; can read and write.
Yuk Kuen: In her 70s; best buds with Gwai Ying; always sings “Love Duet” with Gwai Ying every time she attends.
Uncle Sing Wong: In his 90s; has been in Hong Kong for some 50 to 60 years; encouraged by his family, he takes part in the Hakka shange gathering.
Boy meets Girl
Ms. Au: We have been organizing Hakka shange gathering here at our centre for nearly 20 years now. I’m really glad that old friends continue to join us, allowing our Hakka shange to live on. Now, due to the limits of space, the scale has shrunk. At its largest, in one of the halls of the community centre downstairs, there were almost one or two hundred people. It was full of people every weekend; it was so very happy! Now, because the room has gotten smaller, there are only 60 to 70 people left.
It was really fun in the hall. Many grannies and gramps in wheelchairs came. Some of the grannies didn’t know how to read, but they had a lot of fun listening to the contents in the Hakka shange. The Hakka shange express some unhappy emotions while they were growing up—like the feelings of hardship while growing up as a daughter or as a daughter-in-law. Some other content would include impromptu current events or jokes, or some love songs between boys and girls. There are also riddles, word games—full of variety.
The Library: Did you start singing Hakka shange from a young age?
Sister Kwan: No, I didn’t. I would listen to others sing, to the herders, for instance. Later, I stopped farming, so when I sold vegetables, I would go and listen to people singing Hakka shange for a bit. Back then that Lee Lin-pak sang at the singing group; I knew a few songs and would go in and sing. He told me, “Not bad! You have a clear voice!” Lee Lin-pak came frequently, selling his tapes—10 dollars a cassette. I would buy and listen at the bedside all the time. And then later I came and sang myself.
Uncle Sing Wong: I started in my 20s. Back then, I didn’t know how to sing. I learned while singing.
Gwai Ying: I was 7, 8…almost 10 years old. I would lead the cattle and pass some villages. The boys would see a group of girls and would sing to tease us. Then we would tease them back. They would say we weren’t nice, and then we would tell them they weren’t nice either.
Ms. Au: Hakka shange really tests your impromptu reactions. Like what Gwai Ying just said, if you say I’m no good, then I would immediately have to think of some lyrics to answer you back.
Gwai Ying: Yes, he said no one liked me, so then I said you weren’t so great either, no wife for years. But then, the day before yesterday at Sha Tau Kok, I saw the man I argued with in the Hakka shange. He grabbed my hand and said, wasn’t it so great to talk about love back then? And you disliked me for talking too much!
Everyone: Haha! Looks like fate!
Gwai Ying: Yes, he asked me if I was the one who sang the Hakka shange. So I said, yes, I was the one who chewed you out in the Hakka shange. Then he said, that’s right. Now I don’t sing any more. I said I still sang these days. Then he said, if I’d known, I should have gone after you! I said, back then, you disliked me for being fat—for looking dumpy like a big rice dumpling with salty pork!
Sister Kwan: Let me sing one for you!
A boy teases a girl…(singing)…why haven’t you married, still without a husband? And then the girl answers back…(singing)…then said, you say I have no husband, then I say where’s your wife? All these years, and you still haven’t found a wife!
Ms. Au: They often take advantage of the improvised environment and say things right out. But sometimes, the content can be quite literary. For example, a stalk of spring onion [tsung] hung with lanterns….
Gwai Ying: That’s pine [tsung], pine trees, those things on top of mountains.
Ms. Au: Ha, they’re pines! I always thought it was spring onion. Haha! I won’t say anything more!
Sister Kwan: Back in those days, herding the cattle, there’d be grass on the mountain. On the mountain would be pine trees, and you can shade yourself under them. A boy seeing a girl would tease her and say, why don’t you have a husband. The girl would get mad hearing this, and talk right back about how he still had no wife.
Gwai Ying: Every girl from the village would wear black clothes, and there were no shoes to wear. He would be picky and say I’m thirty something already and still not married, and I’d become an old nun. I got mad, saying he was an old kid at 32, with a beard now and still without a wife, and still saying I’m an old nun! He got so mad he couldn’t even talk.
Sister Kwan: Some also say, I’m too good to enter your house…(singing)…No matter how old I get every day, I won’t marry you, I won’t even enter your house.
Ms. Au: Their lyrics are beautiful. Even though you might feel the Hakka are a bit rough as a group, you can still see many meaningful things in the Hakka shange lyrics. For instance, they just sang about how the carp and the perch swim back and forth at the bottom of the water, secretly going back and forth, without anyone seeing. This talks about how boys and girls secretly go on dates and not let anyone know.
Sister Kwan: Wouldn’t dare! In the past, you weren’t allowed to date.
Ms. Au: Great! It’s a little cramped here, so let’s go over there by the railway museum. I think it’s a bit closer to nature there, and everyone would sing a bit more naturally—and perhaps it would help everyone remember the lyrics!
My Favorite Songs
The Library: After arriving at the Hong Kong Railway Museum, Yuk Kuen came, and everyone sang their favorites songs. Though occasionally needing some lyrics to help with their memories, everyone sang two or three songs, not even running out of breath.
Uncle Sing Wong singing “Wisdom form Chinese Proverbs”
Uncle Sing Wong singing “New Moon”
Sister Kwan singing “Sending the Husband Away”
Sister Kwan singing “Tai Po is Great”
Sister Kwan singing “New Year Flowers, Bloom Eternal”
The Library: After marriage, Hakka women rarely sang love songs with the opposite sex, and rarely will men actively ask to sing love songs with women. These “Love Duet” are actually sung between women.
Gwai Ying and Yuk Kuen singing “Finding Partners through shange”
Gwai Ying and Yuk Kuen singing “Love Duet”
Hong Kong Railway Museum/ 鐵路博物館
Uncle Sing Wong/ 城隍叔
Sister Kwan/ 群姐
“Tai Po is Great” lyrics/ 《大埔好》 歌詞
Gwai Ying and Yuk Kuen/ 桂英､玉娟
“Love Duet” lyrics/ 《情歌對唱》歌詞
Lam Chun’s self publishing Hakka shange book/ 藍叔 編印山歌歌書