the bones, rhythm bones, struck idiophone

A cow rib bone used for tapping.

Clappers, made from a variety of materials and not only of bone, are used as percussion instruments in many parts of the world and have a long history. The widespread use of bones as a percussion instrument in many cultures is not surprising as they are such an obvious 'ready-made' instrument. In Ireland, England, Scotland and North America today, they are used as rhythm accompaniment to traditional folk music bands (fiddle, banjo, accordion, and so on). Also, particularly in the USA, they are used as a novelty instrument with dance in Minstrel Shows of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

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