Singing Bones

By Clare Testoni

On Going since Jan 2016 • Updated bimonthy

Singing Bones is a podcast that looks at the origin of fairy tales, the bare bones of stories. Follow the your favourite tales from their beginnings, discover new tales you've never heard, and re-discover stories you thought you knew.

The Singing Bone is one of the oldest folk tales and is often considered a bridging point between folk tales and ghost stories. With origins going back 2200 years to China and Africa it continues to live in folk and country songs. Telling the sad tale of brothers and sisters killing each other, and only the dead siblings enchanted bones telling the truth of their fate.

Listen to our episodes to hear the story behind your favourite tales (you might not know them as well as you think), to look at corresponding tales in other cultures, and examine the place they have in our modern lives.

All Episodes

  Direct Link   Download 20 Minutes 20 Jul 2017

Hans Christian Andersen's classic and violent tale is looked at through the lens of the man who wrote it, and the 1948 film which changed the way we see it today. From Denmark to dance via the Devil we explore the iconic red footwear.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 24 Minutes 08 Jun 2017

This week we look at the tale of the girl with the impossibly long hair, from it's ancient roots to the court of Louis XIV and the fascinating woman who recorded the version of the tale we know. Featuring Rapunzel expert Kate Forsyth author of the books Bitter Greens and The Re-birth of Rapunzel: A mythic biography.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 08 Dec 2016

The story of a girl who saves her brothers from a curse that turns them into swans is older than you think. Swan have been symbols of royalty, purity, and love in many cultures. Here we trace the stories of people who transform from swans to humans from Ireland to Japan, Norway to Russia. Find out about Clare's show West of The Moon at blueroom.org.au/events/west-of-the-moon/. . .

  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 16 Nov 2016

Illustration by Edward Gorey Rumpelstiltskin is a story about spinning and names. We look at the traditions in making of yarn in fairy tales and how the history of the textile trade is woven into an older story of breaking a bargain with a devil, or a goblin, a man that has no name but who can fix any problem in the world. Read The stories Watch The Story (coming soon). . .

  Direct Link   Download 22 Minutes 29 Aug 2016

Episode fourteen is about the Norwegian fairy tale collectors Asbjørnsen and Moe. Famous for their rigour, their poetry, and their expression of their national culture. Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe recorded tales such as The Three Billy Goats Gruff, East of The Sun West of The Moon, The Princess on The Glass Hill, as well as many others filled with trolls, hulder, and Ash-Lads. The two men were best friends and lived extraordinary lives and deserve to be as well known worldwide as The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Andrew Lang. Additional research from Simon Hughes, whose translations can be read at norwegianfolktales.blogspot.com Music by Kai Engel, find his music at www.kai-engel.com If you want to support Singing Bones please head to singingbonespodcast.com/support. . .

  Direct Link   Download 47 Minutes 08 Aug 2016

The Little Mermaid is a famously dark and melancholy fairy tale. This week we look at the stories that inspired Hans Christian Andersen stories of sirens, of Undine, and Eastern European rusalka and the scary watermen known as Vodnik. We also talk to two real mermaids about what it is like to really be a mermaid! With Mermaid Jessica Pearl and Mermaid Amelia we look at modern mermaid culture and the pros and cons of Disney romanticism. Music this episode by Kai Engel Find The Perth Mermaids here: www.facebook.com/perthmermaids www.facebook.com/mermaidamelia www.facebook.com/mermaidjessicapearl. . .

  Direct Link   Download 22 Minutes 21 Jul 2016

Part one of two traces the history of The Little Mermaid, from Ancient Goddesses of love and fertility to folk stories of love and marriage, slavery and gender politics. This episode focuses on selkies, finfolk, and Sea Kings, with an interview with Finn O'Branagáin, talking about the power of these stories. Next week we look at sirens, rusalka, and talk to some real live mermaids. To read more about Finn O'Branagáin's play click HERE Music by Kai Engel, Moody Alien ,and Antonin Dvorak. . .

  Direct Link   Download 21 Minutes 07 Jul 2016

Illustration by Walter Crane To tell the history of Alibaba is to tell the story of the "Arabian Nights" stories. From a 14th Century Syrian text called 1001 Nights the European world fell in love with Middle Eastern wonder stories.AliBaba has long captured imaginations worldwide, with its themes of family, goodness and treasure. But where did it arrive from? Is it Arabic, Greek, or possibly completely composed by a European in love with the city of Baghdad.Music by ¡para!helionTo read a translation of 1001 Night from the original Arabic I recommend this version by Hussain Haddawy Read The Tales Image Gallery. . .

  Direct Link   Download 23 Minutes 12 Jun 2016

The Twelve Dancing Princesses or The Shoes That Were Danced To Pieces, are stories of fairy kidnapping and possession. In this episode we look at the stories of the fey, the she, elves, devils, peri, and all sorts of wicked spirits that wisk young maidens and lads away to their magic kingdoms where they do nothing but dance. From Iceland to India the stories of fairy kidnappings and those that rescue them talk to us about sin, sleep, and dance. Music by Christy-Lynn and Ed Harris. . .

  Direct Link   Download 22 Minutes 25 May 2016

Little Red Riding Hood is a story with origins in largest witch trials in history. The hysteria and fear translated into a lesson for young ladies when in the hands of storytellers, and thus a story of sex, violence, and male dominance was born. Listen for true tales of werewolves and the myth of the little red girl.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 22 Minutes 12 May 2016

Bluebeard is one of the most gruesome and dark stories of the fairy tale cannon. Before true crime or horror stories people told the story of the serial killer with the un-naturally blue beard, and the many wives he murdered. Before we had the term serial killer we called repeat killers Bluebeards', and the real men from history who inspired the tale are considered some of the most vicious in history. In this episode we look at Bluebeard and it's cousin stories of Mr. Fox, and The Devil Who Married Three sisters, and examine the histories of the three men thought to have inspired the story. One a king of France, another a King of England, and Barron who was a companion to Joan of Arc. Harp music by OMNIA Other music from the Opera "Bluebeard's Castle" by Béla Bartók. . .

  Direct Link   Download 36 Minutes 22 Apr 2016

The Brother's Grimm are synonyms with fairy tales. Yet most people do not know how they collected their tales, or more importantly who they collected them from. Born in a time of war and shifting borders and fearing a loss of national identity the brothers sought to record all fairy tales in German. Their sources were mostly young women, sisters who shared the Grimm's passion for folktales and yet they were not credited as the brothers were, Matt Damon did not play them in a movie. This week we are looking at the lives of The Brothers Grimm and the women who they collected their stories from. For in order to understand the history of fairy tales, we must understand the tale tellers.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 14 Minutes 23 Mar 2016

The Singing Bone is one of the oldest folk tales and is often considered a bridging point between folk tales and ghost stories. With origins going back 2200 years to China and Africa it continues to live in folk and country songs. Telling the sad tale of brother and sisters killing each other, and only the dead siblings enchanted bones telling the truth of their fate.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 26 Minutes 10 Mar 2016

Sleeping Beauty is one of the darkest and most erotically charged tales and this weeks episode is not suitable for those that simply want to hear the picture book story. From origins in Icelandic and French folklore through to the forgotten second act of Perrault and Basile's versions of Sleeping Beauty you have to be brave to court the princess asleep in the woods. It's a dark and thorny path.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 22 Minutes 24 Feb 2016

Giants are our fears and foes made large, Jack and The Beanstalk comes from a history of the small against the strong. It is what remains of a lost tradition of boys own adventure tales. In this episode we follow our fears from Goliath, to Norwegian independence, through to British colonialism and freudian psychoanalysis.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 22 Minutes 11 Feb 2016

Snow White is one of the best known tales, how and why did it become so? In Episode three we look at poisoned Baronesses, Persephone and Hades, pantomime, and early cinema. Looking at the dark story of jealousy and blossoming beauty.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 29 Minutes 28 Jan 2016

In episode two we look into the only fairytale that does not start 'once upon a time' but rather 'in 1284'. The mystery of what happened to the children of Hamlin has fascinated Johann Goethe, Robert Browning, and troubled the minds of historians for hundreds of years. We look at the historical background of The Pied Piper of Hamlin and how a true event became bound up with a tale of rats, pipers, and magic mountains to be the tale we know today.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 20 Minutes 18 Jan 2016

In our first episode I unlock the history of Beauty and The Beast, from Roman myth through to modern tale, the Animal Bridegroom has fascinated and repulsed us for over a thousand years. For who could ever love a beast?..... . .

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