Over the years I find that I enjoy the Grimm’s fairy tales as much as contemporary horror stories. Any many respects the tales from the Brothers Grimm are as dark and creepy as many tales by Lovecraft, Poe, Hawthorne, and so on. I usually keep a great big hardback copy of the classic fairy tales in my book shelf. One of the spookier tales from the Brothers Grimm is that of the singing bone. The tale consists of a flute or other musical instrument made from the bone, usuually a femur, of a murdered man or woman. When the instrument is played it usually sings a song revealing the name of the person guilty of the murder of the person the bone belonged to. Sometimes the flute, or harp of the victim comes from the wood from a tree that grows out of a grave of the murdered individual. Sometimes the tree itself will sing a song that reveals the identity of the person who murdered the innocent. Grimms had a few such tales in their various tales. In the tale “The Singing Bone” it starts out with two brothers who are competing for the hand of the king’s daughter. To win the daughter’s hand one of the brothers must kill a large wild boar who is terrorizing the land. The younger brother kills the boar and the jealous older brother then slays him in turn. The elder brother buries his younger brother in a shallow grave in the woods. He then takes the carcass of the wild boar to the king in order to marry the princess. Many years a wandering shepherd chasing after a runaway lamb came upon a solitary bone sticking out of the grave and decided to carve it into a flute. As he played the flute it began to sing a song of the young man’s murder, thus “outing’ the actual murderer. The shepherd gives the singing bone to the king who reveals the murder. In this case it is the shepherd who ends up with the kings daughter. In the classic “ The Juniper Tree”
bones of a murdered child which gives birth to a beautiful little bird who sings a song “outing’ the true killer. (Clive Barker discusses this tale in his book on the subject of horror, and it fits pretty well.) In Grimm’s tale of “Brinnorie” it is a harp made from the bones and hair of a drowned girl that accuses her sister the being the murderer. There are a few versions of this tale that can be found world wide. And so it goes.