Rhythm bones are sets of slabs or sticks, held two (or more) in each hand, and made to strike each other to make snapping and rolling sounds. Rhythm bones are one of several types of clappers, but there are also clappers which are held one in each hand and struck on on the other, and clappers which have two parts tied to a handle that strike each other, and these are not rhythm bones. Rhythm bones should not be confused with spoons, which are also clappers. Names such as clappers, sticks, spoons, clackers, and knicky-knackers have been subscribed to rhythm bones. The name is derived from their original composition and nomenclature, bones. Originally rib bones of animals were used since their size and shape fit in the hand, and many people still play them. For different sounds, tones and conveniences other materials, particularly wood are used.
Here are pictures of some of the many types of wood rhythm bones that are available today followed by what material they are made from. These all come from Ev Cowett’s own rhythm bone collection. Many of these can be purchased however a great many boners enjoy making there own personalized rhythm bones to fit their own style. There are more images of animal and wood rhythm bones in the Museum.