Rhythm Bones History


Jonathan Danforth’s Virtual Bones Fest XXIV workshop titled ‘Bones through Space and Time’ presents a unique view of the history of rhythm bones.  He shows how ideas, like rhythm bones, spread around the world and through time.  Worth a little time to read – click HERE (starts about half way down the middle column).


The Rhythm Bones Player Newsletter has been published four times a year since 2000 with one issue in 1999, and contains a wide variety of current and historical information. There are quarterly columns from the Executive Director and Editor, Letters to the Editor, Recording of the Quarter, Website of the Quarter, and a Calendar. The feature article begins on Page 1 and there are many smaller articles in each issue.


The newsletters are in PDF format, and that file is rather large which takes some time to download.


Click to view the newsletters


Being in PDF format, you can search the newsletters using the Find command of the free Adobe Reader. This is a powerful feature over searching the paper versions. Note that the newsletter file loads into a new browser window so that you can switch back and forth to it without having to reload it.


Finally, this little newsletter is fully cataloged by and stored in the Library of Congress making this information available to current and future researchers.

Click To View a Portfolio of Rhythm Bones

This Portfolio has examples of many of the rhythm bones that are made for sale.



This is not a comprehensive historical work, and the Museum is based primarily on articles from the Rhythm Bones Player newsletter.  This Page has historical articles and other Museum Pages present player profiles, media, etc?>?


Names given to the Bones around the World

Country or Culture:  Name

Anglo-Saxon:  possibly cladersticca

Asturia (in Spain):  tarranoelles

Australia:  clapsticks

Basque:  artxalus

Breton (Celts in France):  gradjel, gragell

China:  ban, pan

Chwana (in South Africa, Botswana):  marapo, marupa

Denmark:  Smældstikker

Egypt (ancient):  mah (straight), awoy (curved), dwawt (angled)

English-speaking:  bones, clappers, kicky-knackers, clackers, castanets, nackers

France, Quebec:  os, cliquettes, claquettes

Galicia (in Spain):  tarranuelles, tarrañolas, castaneta, trancañolas, tixoletas, trécolas

German:  Brettchenklapper, Brettschen, Kleppern, Klepperle

Greece (ancient):  krotala

Ireland, Scotland (where Gaelic is spoken):  cnamhan, cnaimh

Japan:  hyoshigi

Latvia:  klapîtes

Norway:  Smellstikker

Okinawa:  yotsudake

Persia (medieval):  chihar pare

Poland: bocian

Portugal:  trancanholas

Roman Empire:  crotala

Russia:  lozhki

Spain:  tejoletas, palillos, tarrañuelas, tarreñas, tejuelas, tejas, telletas, losetas, recholetas, pizarretas

Sweden:  snatterpinnar

Switzerland:  chlefeli

Thailand:  kaep, kap

Turkey:  çarpara, çalpara

Vietnam:  cap ke

Zulu (South Africa):  amatambo




Bones in modern China
Chinese folk percussion
Bones played on Great Wall



Rexroad find Egyptian Bones



Greece and Rome

Walter Maioli Article??





Bones around the world
1st from Germany?
Klepperly in english
Klerrele video
video online again
Lady plays klepperle
More on Chleferle
Chlefele notation
RB in Switzerland



Shakespeare and bones
Rhythm Bones in spain & england
An English Bone Tail


Australia/New Zealand

Notes from Australia
trip to austral NZ



Wixson trip to Ireland
Bones in Sligo



Bones in Tuscany
CD release
Etruscan Painting


South Africa

in  s. africa



RB from Barbatos



United States

Beth’s Thesis 8#2, etc 8#4,  9#1, 10#4


Frank Brower, first player
Brief Summary of early minstrel players
Yirdy Finds minstrel players
Minstrel marrionette


Civil War, WWI/WWII War

Pair of bones
Walt Watkins finds civil was bones bones
RB in civil war camp
Civil War comes to school


Adams workshop
Bones at Sea
More Bones at Sea