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Singing Bones

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.

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Snow White

Illustration by Jennie Harbour for My Book of Favourite Fairy Tales, 1921Snow 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. Music for this episode by the wonderful Musk Ox.  Read Snow White and Similar tales Snow White Gallery Snow White silent film (1916)


11 Feb 2016

Rank #1

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The Sleeping Beauty

Illustration by Jennie HarbourSleeping 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. Read The talesSleeping Beauty Gallery


10 Mar 2016

Rank #2

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The Little Mermaid Part 1

Illustration by Jennie HarbourPart 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 HEREMusic by Kai Engel, Moody Alien ,and Antonin Dvorak Mermaid Illustrations Mermaid stories


21 Jul 2016

Rank #3

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The Brothers Grimm and Sisters Wild

The statue of the brothers in KasselThe 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. Grimm brothers reading list


22 Apr 2016

Rank #4

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The Singing Bone

Paper cut illustration by Clare TestoniThe 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.Read and listen to the tales hereSinging Bones Gallery


23 Mar 2016

Rank #5

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Little Red Riding Hood

Illustration by Divica LandrovaCover of "Lil' Red Ridin' Hood" by The BrookeTo read more about werewolves look here and here.To read Jack Zipes find his book here.  Read The tale Little Red Gallery


25 May 2016

Rank #6

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Illustration by Winslow Hollow"Be bold, be bold, but not too bold."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 OMNIAOther music from the Opera "Bluebeard's Castle" by Béla Bartók Read Bluebeard and similar tales Bluebeard Gallery


12 May 2016

Rank #7

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Jack and The Beanstalk

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. Read more about Jeffrey Jay Fowler and his upcoming work.Music by Dave Depper and Will Bangs Read the stories Gallery of Giants


24 Feb 2016

Rank #8

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Twelve Dancing Princesses

Illustration by Sheilah Beckett 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-Lynnand Ed Harris Read The Dancing Princess Stories Dancing Princess Gallery


12 Jun 2016

Rank #9

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The Little Mermaid Part 2

Illustration by Ida Rentoul OuthwaiteThe 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 EngelFind The Perth Mermaids here:www.facebook.com/perthmermaidswww.facebook.com/mermaidameliawww.facebook.com/mermaidjessicapearl read mermaid stories here


8 Aug 2016

Rank #10