In looking for more versions of “The Singing Bone,” I came across a tale called “継子と笛” or “The Stepchild and the Flute.” I took a stab at translating it, since I found only one other Japanese variant in “Green Willow and Other Japanese Fairy Tales,” the source of the featured image.
In stories like “The Singing Bone,” we see sibling rivalry that turns to murder, a crime eventually revealed by the eerie song of an instrument made from the murder victim’s bones.
There’s a lot of messed-up stuff there, but of course the most important question is: Can you really make instruments from human bones?
As an introduction to the next set of tales, how about some music?
Appropriately for a tale type known as “The Singing Bone” (ATU type 780), it comes not only in prose, but many, many musical variants of a murder ballad under the general name of “The Twa Sisters.”
In the category of “tales in which a wicked stepmother kills her stepchild and feeds it to the father, after which the child usually comes back as a bird for revenge,” we have several examples…