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cover of ep004 ed zhang ROUGH mix
ep004 ed zhang ROUGH mix

ep004 ed zhang ROUGH mix


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This episode of the podcast features local musician Ed Jang, who performs folk music from the Silk Road region of Central Asia. Ed and his family band share bittersweet folk songs they learned during lockdown. The songs are about love and longing, and are sung in various languages along the Silk Road. Ed plays the oud and kamanche, while his son Kai plays the drums and guitar. They also discuss their love for music and their multilingual household. During lockdown, they started learning and playing folk music as a way to have fun and experience something new. G'day, I'm Tom Rigby, and this is Markets and I'll Rose. This is the fourth episode of a podcast by the North and West Melbourne News, the award-winning local newspaper published by the North and West Melbourne Neighbourhood Centre on Errol Street, North Melbourne. Bordered by Flagstaff Gardens to the south, Queen Vic Market to the east, Royal Park and the Hospitals to the north, and the mighty Maribyrnong River in the west, our neighbourhood is a village right in the heart of Melbourne, where people like living close to each other and within walking distance of everything. This episode, our feature, includes some exclusive recordings of folk music from the Silk Road region of Central Asia, performed by local musician, artist and economist, Ed Jang. This episode also features the return of the Community Notice Board segment, after a brief hiatus due to the Queensbury Cup Special. The Community Notice Board is a crowdsourced segment, so if you've got something coming up that you want to plug, let me know and we'll talk about getting it on the show. You can reach me on Facebook or Instagram, or email me at market2melrose at gmail.com. Huge thanks to everybody who has reached out regarding the last episode, which is all about the Queensbury Cup. The response has been terrific, and I was so happy to hear that people enjoyed it. If you haven't heard it yet, I'm sure you'll love the interviews with the intrepid billy cart racers aged between 7 and 78. If you're enjoying this podcast, there's three things you can do to help us out. First, please subscribe to the podcast so we can reach you every time we put out an episode. It's free to do, just hit subscribe in your favourite podcast app. Second, please leave us a good rating, or a like if you're listening on YouTube. Finally, please leave a review, even just a word or a line shows newcomers that actual humans have been enjoying the show. If you can't think of what to say, just write, love the pod. These three acts will take you about 90 seconds, and we'll be eternally grateful. 90 seconds for an eternity? Now that's a bargain, so get on it today. For today's episode, I invited West Melbourne resident Ed Jang to join me in Studio 4 at the State Library. Ed is the kind of guy who would perfectly fit the description, there are many strings to his bow, except that he plays an oud, not a violin. He is a prolific contributor to the North and West Melbourne news, primarily with his hand-drawn illustrations, comics, and spot the difference games that grace the pages of each edition. Ed is also a professional transport economist, and has travelled widely around the world. The autumn 2022 edition of the news reported that Ed, who was born in China and grew up in Beijing, became an Australian citizen, alongside his wife Apecha. In a recent edition, the news revealed another side of Ed, his love of folk music from Turkic-speaking Central Asian cultures along the Silk Road. The news reported how Ed and his family band performed a concert in the Flagstaff Gardens. They shared a repertoire of bittersweet folk songs they learned during lockdown, in one of the few places in the neighbourhood where people were able to socialise during the pandemic. Ed, Apecha and their son Kai joined me in the studio recently, to record some songs and have a chat about this exotic style of Turkic folk songs. Now without further ado, here's Ed Zhang. What was that song called? It's called Üsküdar'a Giderik'en Katim Üsküdar'a Giderik'en Yeah, it means on the way to Üsküdar, which is a seaside town in Turkey, near Istanbul. And Katim means my scribe. So it's about a girl, a rich young lady and her male scribe on the way to a seaside town. And the rain started to pour and the scribe's shirt got all wet. Is that where it's from, from Turkey? Yeah, it's a Turkish song. Being not a native Turkish speaker, I probably pronounced a whole lot of words wrong. Oh, that's alright. It sounded good. And you've got the words written down there. Yeah, that's right. So that's in the Turkish, modern Turkish spelling that I found from the internet. Thank you very much for that beautiful music, Ed and Kai. And we're also joined here by Apecha. Hello. What are the common themes that tie together this repertoire? Yeah, so a lot of our pieces so far are from along the Silk Road in various languages, whether it's Turkish, Azeri, Uyghur and Han Chinese as well. A lot of these songs are about love and longing. And a lot of these places are conflict zones as well today and historically. And I think there's something beautiful in everything. And while there's just a lot of torment and everything else going on, I think love is a theme that has stood the test of time wherever you are. So a lot of our songs are love songs from along the Silk Road. And what drew you to that region of the world as an inspiration for your repertoire? That's an interesting question. I mean, a lot of things are unrelated. My personal, my favourite sort of food are from there. So I'm naturally drawn more and more to the culture along the Silk Road. And during, I can't remember which lockdown, maybe two, we started watching this Turkish drama that has about 150 episodes and each of them is like two and a half hours long. So along that journey we started learning more Turkish things. So yeah, so then we started developing our repertoire. And how strong is your Turkish language? Not very good. Any Turkish speakers out there probably can tell. But hopefully more or less I haven't butchered all the pronunciation. So you're speaking, you're singing words that you don't necessarily understand the meaning or have you delved into learning the language? Bits and pieces. I mean, there is a transliteration. Well, Turkish itself is written in Roman alphabets or adapted version. A lot of Uyghur songs you can have transliterations. So there are words that are, you know, Uzun means long, so quite standard across all Turkish languages and you pick up here and there. So it's not that I don't understand completely but I can't say I completely understand either. Sure, yeah. And there are similarities between the languages of all those different cultures, are there? Yeah, yeah, I think so. I think a lot of the, some of the common words are understandable across that entire stretch. So you haven't grown up speaking these languages. How many languages can you speak sort of fluently? Not that many, only two. I speak Mandarin Chinese fluently and English. Yeah, right. And Kai, can you speak any other languages apart from English? I can speak Mandarin. You can speak Mandarin? You've been over to China recently. Yeah. Did you speak to a lot of people in Mandarin over there? I spoke to the family. To your family? Oh, that's terrific. And when I was in the public too. Okay, what sort of things can you talk to people about in Mandarin? Like if I go to the shop and I want to buy something I can ask or if I need to know where something is I can ask. And what about these languages of the songs that you were just singing? Can't understand? Okay, well you did a pretty good job of pretending. You're lucky to have gone on a holiday to Beijing recently. I'd love to go over there. And Apeksha, can you speak any other languages apart from English? I can speak my mother tongue which is Gujarati. It's from the west coast of India and a couple of other Indian languages. I speak some French and some French and a bit of Spanish. A multilingual household. You're very lucky, Kai, to grow up in a household with different languages. So you said that you've just started singing these kinds of songs since COVID, is that right? Yeah, that's right. I can't remember which lockdown it was. I know there were many. And the longing for travel, for adventure, got better off me, I suppose. So I bought a oud from the internet and it was shipped from Izmir, Turkey. And then bought a kamanche. Wait, what's a kamanche? Kamanche is like a violin, a spike fiddle. It's like a violin played vertically. It's a Persian instrument. And the majority of kamanche is from Iran today. But it's also played in Turkey, Central Asia as well. And there are versions of it. It's like violin, four strings played vertically. It's quite challenging but good fun. So I bought one of those and then just more and more instruments found their way to our Melbourne home. So yeah, I think that was kind of a way of, one is spending time, two is having fun, and three a sense of travel and adventure and something new, something exotic perhaps. So that was your lockdown project while other people were making sourdough bread. I was baking a lot of cakes. You were learning how to play the oud. Yeah, that's right, for us. And Kai picked up the drums and the guitar and other things. I mean I play the piano and Kai plays the piano as well. That's the sort of bass instrument. And then you branch out from there. And what kind of music were you playing before you branched out into this? My upbringing is mainly in Western classical music. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, that sort of stuff. Yeah, so your background is in classical music, but I suppose that's not so amenable to just jamming with your family. That's right, whereas a bit of folk music is a lot more conducive to jamming fun. And Kai, what would be your favourite type of music? The one that you play on the piano. Yeah. Because it's very loud sometimes. Yeah, it's very pretty. I like that kind of music too. What's that little drum that you have there called? It was a little bit like a tambourine. Doira. Doira. And can you describe it to me? What does it look like? It's a bit very small and light, and it's got these things that make the sound at the back. They're made of metal. And what's this on the front? Turn it around. A painting. Oh, it's a painting of a man and a woman. Yes. That's a beautiful instrument. Where did the doira come from? The doira, this one is from Uzbekistan, from the town, an ancient town. Was it some kind of Bukhara? I can't remember. Maybe it was Bukhara. Apekshan and I, we were there back in 2009, and we bought it as a souvenir. And surprisingly, it's still going. So apart from appearing on podcasts and playing in your lounge room, where do you see you and your family band going with this music? All sorts of public spaces. We've done street performers along Errol Street once upon a time. We held a concert in Flagstaff. It was all small, small scale. We played in a cafe in Geelong, and we played a couple of times at community dinners in the West Melbourne Baptist Church. And hopefully next year we're going to get our space in the Melbourne Fringe. Oh, fantastic. You excited about that, Kai? Yes. So Ed and Kai and Apekshan, thank you very much for coming into Studio 4 in the State Library today and sharing with us some of your beautiful music. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thanks again to Ed Jang and his family for taking the time to visit and perform in the studio. Now it's time for the Community Notice Board. On the next episode, I'm going to be speaking to artist Nancy Lane. Her art practice focuses on repurposing cast-off pieces of detritus that she finds on her walks around North Melbourne into sculptures and jewellery. Nancy has some pieces in this year's National Broke Show. It's at the Fitzroy Library, and although you'll have to cross over Elizabeth Street to get there, I'm sure it'll be worth the trip. The Australian National Broke Show 2023 is the largest show of its type in Australia, showcasing a diverse range of media. The exhibition includes imaginative, beautiful and unusual brooches created by artists from across Australia. Until the 26th of September, head down to the Fitzroy Library at 128 Moore Street to see a glittering array of brooches and unique contemporary wearable artwork. Friend of the podcast, Parul Sen, has set up a new pop-up at 400 Victoria Street, just west of Howard Street. Parul featured on her very first episode when she was running the pop-up shop on Errol Street with her friend Sarah. The other day I stopped by on the way to the market to admire her wonderful illustrations of iconic Melbourne buildings, streetscapes and landmarks. You can drop in to see Parul Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 2pm. Her new calendars for 2024 are out this week. So stop by and grab one, or track her down on Instagram or Facebook at Pink Wattle Art. That's Pink Wattle Art. You can hear all about Parul's fantastic work on episode one of this podcast. That's all for this episode. Thanks a lot for listening. We'll be back in a fortnight with another arty episode focused on local artist Nancy Lane. Until next time.

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