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Tong Kin-Woon 1 唐健垣
  Dr. Tong at his studio 2   
Dr. Tong Kin-Woon (Ph.D, Wesleyan University, 1983) is a specialist in a variety of subjects including Cantonese singing (operatic song, nanyin, and other varieties),
3 Chinese tea and teaware,4 Chinese oracle bones,5 guqin playing and guqin making.6 He normally divides his time between his flats in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, teaching qin and other subjects; in 2019 he opened a Qin Storehouse in Shenzhen.

From 1976 to 2000 Dr. Tong was my advisor in Hong Kong, mainly helping me find and understand materials necessary for analyzing and reconstructing old guqin tablatures and texts. He was introduced to me by my teacher in Taiwan, Sun Yü-Ch'in, who had recenty also taught Tong.

While in Taiwan Tong Kin-Woon published Qin Fu, a collection of original writings plus old handbooks and articles. His doctoral dissertation for a Ph.D in Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, Shang (Dynasty) Musical Instruments (further details), was published in the journal Asian Music, Volumes XIV-2, XV-1 and XV-2 (1983/4). His expertise in classical Chinese and his general knowledge were essential to many of the translations on this website.

In Hong Kong Dr. Tong also repairs qins and has for sale a number of antique qins, qins made by other well-known makers, and new ones that he personally selected during trips to China, Yangzhou in particular.7

Dr. Tong's Hong Kong address is: 8

Tong's Art Studio
Orchid House, lst floor
173 Sai Yeung Choi St. North
Mongkok, Hong Kong
(852) 2380-7760
fax 2787-7150

Dr. Tong also regularly goes to the studio in China where he makes his qin and to Shanghai, where he teaches and sells most of them (location).

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 唐健垣 Tong Kin-Woon
In Mandarin, Tang Jianyuan

2. Image
Dr. Tong discussing an antique qin.

3. Traditional singing
Dr. Tong delayed his departure to work on his doctorate at Wesleyan University so that he could do what he considered essential study with traditional Cantonese singers who were then quite elderly. During my time with him I did very little work in qin songs, in part because Dr. Tong said that qin songs couldn'be sung in Cantonese: He said that in Mandarin such songs were OK because the tonal patterns of the lyrics were not so important in Mandarin, but to sing them in a traditional Cantonese style the lyrics had to follow certain tonal patterns, and they did not do so with the qin songs.

Singing solfeggio, however, was a different matter. In fact, it was Dr. Tong's solfeggio singing that helped make me comfortable with the way I assigned relative pitches to notes when I first began reconstructing early melodies. Often when I played a melody for him he would sang along in solfeggio - naming the notes as he sang. He could do this even though he had never heard the melody before; he also said that such a custom was quite common for traditional singers. He also seemed particularly to enjoy it for melodies he had not heard before. When I began doing my reconstructions (da pu), which included transcribing the music from the original tablature into staff notation, I had to decide what pitches to assing to the notes. From the beginning, because it was my understanding that Chinese music was mostly pentatonic - do re mi so la - I would transcribe the melodies in the way that required the fewest accidentals. I then found it quite significant (and reassuring) that in spite of not having seen the notation Dr. Tong would always select as "do" when he heard the note I had transcribed as "C". The other notes then followed along and I began to develop my underastanding of qin modes,

4. Tea and teaware
He has a large collection of Yixing teaware and at one time a large collection of very old pu-er tea.

5. Oracle bones (.pdf of "Strings" from Dr. Tong's dissertation)
Dr. Tong says he was able to learn the meanings of a significant number of oracle bone characters because he was the first oracle bone researcher (his M.A. in Taiwan concerned oracle bones) to have had a musical background. In 1983 he completed a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, USA. His dissertation, Shang (Dynasty) Musical Instruments, was subsequently published in Asian Music, Volumes XIV-2, XV-1 and XV-2 (1983/4), as follows:

    Volume XIV-2 (pp.17-182)

    Editor's Note and Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Graphs and terms relating to performances
  3. Qing (stone chimes)
  4. Drums Glossary of Chinese terms
    Oracle bone collections cited and their abbreviations
    Classics cited
    Major books and articles cited

    Volume XV-1 (pp.103-184)

  5. Bells (103-151)
  6. Wind instruments (152-184)

    Volume XV-2 (pp.68-143)

  7. Stringed instruments and other wooden instruments (68-82; copied in this .pdf file)
  8. Performance and the performers (83-111)

    Conclusion (111-143)

Considering the subject matter, this dissertation is surprisingly easy to follow.

6. 正聞琴坊 Zhengwen Qin Fang: qins made by Tong Kin-Woon (see also acquiring a qin) logo: 正聞琴坊、唐健垣制    
Dr. Tong began making guqins in the 1970s. During the years after that he did considerable research into traditional guqin construction techniques. Then in 2012 he opened a workshop in China at which has been making guqins of particularly high quality. They are currently (2013) of three types:

These instruments are expensive but their quality is very high, and even at that price sound better to me than many other instruments in that price range, or higher. As of 2013 he was selling many of them in Shanghai, where he was teaching once a month at

Song in Art (Listening to the Pines Art Studio, 聽松館 Ting Song Guan)
Zhejiang East Road #283, Room 2026, Shanghai

This studio is connected to a fine arts store on the second floor of an antiques market (古玩城) on Zhejiang Middle Road between Jiujiang and Hankou Roads.

7. Buying qins in Yangzhou
Dr. Tong says that when he goes to Yangzhou he tests perhaps a hundred qins, all of a similar price, in order to find about five that he thinks would be acceptable for students. Certain instruments he then cuts open so that he can improve the sound. In Yangzhou all of them are strung with metal strings; Dr. Tong himself does not use silk strings and thus cannot confirm or deny my suspicion that with these Yangzhou qin probably a similar number of them (not necessarily the same ones) would stand out as better than the others for use with silk strings.

8. Directions to Tong's Art Studio
From Exit A of 太子 Prince Edward MTR Station go right
then make an immediate right on 動場道 Playing Field Road;
the first left is Sai Yeung Choi St. North:

西洋菜街北 173

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