Category Archives: Art

Bob Shell: Musical Instruments

Photo Illustration: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

Photo Illustration: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

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I’ve made a sort of study of musical instruments from around the world, each with its own unique sound. From India there is the sitar, best known, but also the sarod, sort of an Indian lute, and another stringed instrument called the veena. All get their unique sounds from having brass strings. (You can hear sitar on recordings by Ravi Shankar or his daughter Anoushka. Sarod by Ali Akbar Khan. Veena by S.I. Balachander.). In Japan there is the koto, a sort of horizontal harp with silk strings, which can be heard in recordings by Kimio Ito. The Chinese have a plethora of instruments with names I never learned. You can hear many in The Chieftains in China. The Chinese also use the pentatonic scale, with only five notes in an “octave,” which is why their music sounds weird to us. The pentatonic scale was developed in ancient Greece, at least so say the historians. Maybe the Greeks got it from Egypt, or even older cultures. Frustratingly we have no idea what ancient Egyptian, Greek, Babylonian, etc., music sounded like since they had no musical notation. We can only guess.

We know the Greeks, Egyptians, and other ancient cultures had stringed and wind instruments because both are depicted in their art, but we don’t know what they sounded like. Of course, all cultures had drums and percussion instruments.

The tabla drums of India are made of brass with hide drumheads that can be tuned so that different parts of the drumhead produce different sounds. They are. normally played in sets of two, a smaller one with higher pitch and a larger one with lower pitch. They are played with the fingers, palms, and even elbows. To hear a modern use of tabla drums, listen to Centa Terbaik by Tasya Rosmala. All Indian instruments, so far as I know, are played sitting on the floor, usually with half-lotus or even full-lotus positioning of the legs.

The Arabs have a large drum called a dumbeg and a smaller durbeki, played with the hands or short drumsticks. The Irish drum, played with both ends of a short drumstick is the bodhran. I’m sure the Turkish drums have names, but I don’t recall them. In Japan once I was treated to a performance of traditional big Japanese drums that are mounted with the drumheads vertical, and the players go at them with sticks the size of ax handles, attacking the drums as if trying to destroy them. Very, very loud! Almost .more of an athletic event than a musical performance. The performers wear loin cloths and are very muscular. The whole thing has a very savage feel.

Of course Africa and the Caribbean are where drums, a great variety of types and sizes, are the main instruments. To hear African drums at their best listen to the Missa Luba, a native Congolese mass performed with voices and drums. I’ve heard great drum music in the Caribbean, and, of course, there are the steel drums. There is a good recording of the Trinidad and Tobago Steel Drum Band available. Surprisingly, they hail from Rochester, NY! I don’t know how they tune those steel drums, but the sound can be beautiful.

Today the Mediterranean peoples have a variety of stringed instruments played like guitars. The Arab people have their oud, a fretless gut-stringed lute/guitar. To hear an oud played well, listen to Hala Laya by The Devil’s Anvil, from the album Hard Rock From The Middle East (where you’ll also hear dumbeg and durbeki drums). The Greeks have their bouzouki, also similar to a guitar. It is my understanding that the guitar itself was developed from the lute in Spain during the Moorish period. The Irish and Scot people, who originated in the eastern Mediterranean, took the Persian/Greek bagpipe north with them, along with the pentatonic scale. I’m not sure who carried musical instruments to Russia, perhaps the Rus brought them back from their viking raids on other cultures, but once Eastern Orthodox Christianity took hold, the balalaika, with its three strings and three-sided sound box (symbolizing the Trinity) was no surprise.

But a surprise did await the Spanish conquistadores in South America. In Bolivia at lake Titicaca they found Egyptian-looking reed boats and all over northern South America they found musicians playing in the pentatonic scale. In the Andes the local musicians played pentatonic panpipes and flutes. The stringed instrument was the charango, a sort of guitar/mandolin with a sound box made from the shell of an armadillo. Along with the panpipes there was a low pitched very long flute called senka tenkana (growing nose) that made the player stretch his arms. (To hear what Inca music sounded like, listen to “El Condor Pasa” by Los Incas, who also recorded as Urubamba.) Was the pentatonic scale carried to South America by ancient Egyptian sailors, or carried the other way? Apparently there was commerce between the regions because both tobacco and cocaine have been found in Egyptian mummies, and both originate in the Americas. There was apparently cross-cultural exchange in ancient times.

I find it odd that the Native peoples of North America were so musically undeveloped. Drums and flutes seem to be about it for their instruments, and often just the drums, accompanied by chanting. The music never made it up through Central America, apparently. Of course, depending on the date, much of today’s Central America was under water and migration largely impossible.

Humans like to make noise, and in many cultures unique musical traditions were developed. Will people of the distant future still listen to today’s music?

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-a-stitch-in-relative-time/

 

Also posted in Blog, Music, Popular Culture

Racquel Ward: “Expo”

Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

“Expo” Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

Artwork and Text by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

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This series entitled “Expo ” represents the rapidly growing body positive movement, which in recent years has challenged mainstream representations of beauty. In the U.S. and other western countries, thin white bodies served as the cornerstone for standards of beauty that most women, including many white women, could not and do not live up to. It is now fashionable, especially on social media platforms, to embrace real curves, cellulite and the “authentic” self with hashtags such as #beautybeyondsize and #thickthighssavelives. 

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Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

“Expo”Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

In the same vein, these sketches do not serve as a symbol for women who achieve this look via plastic surgery – another branch of beauty where women want African features but have failed to make it look authentic.

The “Expo” series was sketched with pencil and colored with expo markers. The artist’s choice of materials shows that anyone can make art with anything just as anyone can be beautiful with exactly what they have.

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Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

“Expo” Artwork by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

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About The Author: Racquel Ward is a writer and educational therapist living in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in Culture and Media studies and a BFA in Contemporary Music from the New School University – Manhattan, New York. Racquel also holds a Master’s of Science in Teaching. She has been published on ThoughtCatalog and most recently finished her first children’s book. To access additional articles by Racquel Ward, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/racquel-ward-poor-me-home-alone-and-nuttin-to-do/

Also posted in Blog, Erotica, Glamour, Hetero Love, Models, News, Popular Culture, Portraits, Women

Katie Kerl: Love The One Your With

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Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Love The One You’re With

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Why are we so shut down emotionally that we’d rather cause literal chaos with the person we are supposed to love / be friends with , than tell them our problems, wants, and needs? 

Is it technology and the lack of actual verbal communication leaving us to send meaningless texts that can’t express feelings, body language, or facial expressions? How are relationships supposed to survive in this always connected world of miscommunication?  Often time’s things get left unsaid, nasty words for lack of a sensor behind a screen. People give up on relationships because no one understands they are actual WORK. 

When you’re sitting with someone and they are hesitating, crying, or look sad. Trying to understand someone else’s perspective while in the presence of that person is almost impossible to begin with. Take out the in person elements of all human interaction, and it’s no wonder why we walk around like emotionless drones.

Relationships are a second job entirely. Getting though your own day, getting in a little of your own hobbies, then doing all the couple stuff. They do not tell you in fairy tales there will be days you want to smother Prince Charming and rule the castle alone. There will be days he wishes he never put that glass slipper on your foot. Holding the castle up together is the point. Not losing site of that is the HARD PART. Arguing is two people against an issue to be solved. Not two people against each other trying to win.

It makes me think we have forgotten how to mutually love one another with no expectation other than for love to be returned?

Anyone with a crazy past gets it. You tend to be more perceptive to people’s emotions. It’s strange to be able to see things in people without them really telling me. Sometimes my gift of perception can also be a curse. Anxiety mixed with ADD will do that to you though.  I have gone through so much at an early age. If you look like you’re struggling I’m going to ask you why, if you do not answer me, I’ll ask again. I’m persistent, overly annoying, and caring. I’ve been through hell and back , and even the devil didn’t want me. 

When you find that person to love the one who completely accepts you, refuses to give up on you, & support is mutual. That’s some scary shit and an amazing feeling to be honest. Do not give up on that no matter how hard the work is because they get you. Every imperfect part of you and, and you feel the same way.

Now, I don’t just mean romantic relationships. I’m talking about friendships too. When people think they know you based on how far you let them In. Friends you can just BE around are the best. You don’t have to explain anything they just know. They know when you need them, they ask if you’re ok, stand up for you, and you do the same. No matter the distance between you.

Being accepted and chasing your dreams is all anyone wants. Everyone seems to have that side hustle now, because that 9-5 just is not giving you the satisfaction you were guaranteed when applying for colleges in high school.  If you have support and people who want to be there when it gets tuff, let them in. Real people are hard to come across these days.

Being able to write about real life has been very interesting. Some people are for it, and others wondering why I’m putting so much of myself out there. The simple answer is; if I help one person not feel alone in their situation that’s my goal.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Hallmark holiday true, but you can also make it a fun day to appreciate anyone. Being a foodie I think it’s the worst day to actually go out and eat. Pre-fix menus and over reserved restaurants just are not my thing. Make dinner at home, buy sex toys, write down memorable things and put it in a jar, send your parents flowers , get drinks with the girls, print photos and frame them. It really is the little things that matter. My mother really hammered that in my head as a kid and  I’m so happy she did. 

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About The AuthorKatie Kerl. Born 1984. Raised in Drexel Hill,  Pennsylvania. Attended Drexel University for Behavioral  Psychology .Occupation : commercial/ residential  design Philadelphia resident since 2011 . Hobbies include  : Foodie, whiskey drinker,  fitness , cooking  , tattoos , & house music lover . Instagram:  @beatz_eatz_n_freaks .To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-philadelphia-foodgasim/

 

Also posted in Blog, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel, Women

Rongrong Liu: Light

 

Video and Text by Rongrong Liu, Copyright 2019

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LIGHT

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This video art project is all about light. I started thinking of using light as my main subject when I saw the disco ball installation recently at the Institute of Contemporary Art. What’s most interesting about it is that what I am able to see with my eyes is different from what the camera lens can see, which is iridescent.

There isn’t a strict plan for this piece. Starting from the first clip, each clip is what I associated in my mind with the previous one. The blurry night traffic scene ⇒ the micro bokeh light ⇒ disco ball ⇒ glass light ⇒ underwater light ⇒ projector light ⇒ smoke. After this clip are my interactions with the light, playing with the shadow and the time lapse of traffic. Light is everywhere, and it is different depending on the way we look at it (from a macroscopic or a microscopic view), how close we are, how focused we are, etc..

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Portrait of Rongrong Liu by Alexis Masino. Copyright 2019

Portrait of Rongrong Liu by Alexis Masino. Copyright 2019

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About The Author: Rongrong Liu is a Senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Rongrong Liu, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/rongrong-liu-me/

 

Also posted in Blog, Light Table, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: Fighting Monsters

Artwork by Christopher Suciu. Copyright 2019

 

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #33

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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FIGHTING MONSTERS

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Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”.

I’ve been fighting a monster known as The Commonwealth of Virginia since my life was disrupted in 2003 by false criminal charges after the death of my girlfriend Marion Franklin. Have I succeeded in not becoming a monster myself? I hope so.

When you’re charged with a crime by a state, that state devotes all of its vast resources to insuring that you are convicted. Unless you are wealthy, it’s a very uneven match, and you must be prepared to lose everything, even if you win the case. Lawyers, court reporters, expert witnesses, bail bondsmen, etc., don’t work for free. Everywhere you turn, someone is standing there with their hand extended for money. I’ve never been wealthy, just comfortable, and the whole legal process bankrupted me.

Last night I had a dream. I was sitting in an auditorium somewhere with friends. We were on the front row. The Commonwealth’s Attorney (CA) came down the aisle, turned to me and asked, “Mr. Shell, did you wear sunglasses on your drive over here today?”. I said that I had. “You see,” he barked, “he admits to an illegal activity.”. I must have looked totally confused because he said, “Don’t you know that it’s illegal to wear sunglasses after you’re accused of a crime? ”

Just a dream, right? But not so far from reality. After my arrest I spent thirty days in jail before my lawyer could bail me out. When you’re out on bail it’s just like probation; you have to report to the Probation and Parole office regularly, and any infraction, no matter how minor, can get your release cancelled and you thrown back in jail. One day I was going somewhere in town, don’t recall where, when a town cop pulled me over and wrote me a ticket for having a burned out brake light. I had no idea the light wasn’t working. For a while it looked like the CA was going to try to revoke my bail over this! I had the light fixed immediately and carried the receipt to traffic court. Luckily, the judge dismissed the charge. But by driving with a burned out brake light, I was technically committing an illegal act while out on bail! And if they want to, they can revoke your bail over almost anything, even a parking ticket!

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-prostitution/

 

Also posted in Blog, Men, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Women