The Singing Bone

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"The Singing Bone" is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 28.[1] It is Aarne-Thompson type 780.[2]


A boar lays waste to a country, and two brothers set out to kill it. The younger meets a dwarf who gives him a spear, and with it, he kills the boar. Carrying the body off, the man meets his older brother, who had joined with others to drink until he felt brave. The older brother lures him in, gives him drink, and learns of the younger brother's adventure. They then set out to deliver the body to the king, but on passing a bridge, the older kills the younger and buries his body beneath it. He takes the boar himself to the king and marries the king's daughter.

One day a shepherd sees a bone under the bridge and uses it to make a mouthpiece for a horn, which begins to sing on its own. The shepherd takes this marvel to the king. On hearing the song, which tells the tale of the murder, the king has the younger brother's skeleton dug up. The older brother cannot deny murdering him and is executed. The younger brother's bones are buried in a beautiful graveyard.[3]

Variations and adaptations[edit]

In music
In literature
  • Beth Hahn's literary suspense novel, The Singing Bone (2016), is loosely based on "The Twa Sisters".[5]


  1. ^ Grimm, Jacob and Wilheim. "28: The Singing Bone". Household Tales. SurLaLune Fairy Tales. 
  2. ^ Ashliman, D.L. "The Singing Bone and other tales of Aarne-Thompson type 780". SurLaLune Fairy Tales. 
  3. ^ Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. "28: The Singing Bone". SurLaLune Fairy Tales. Retrieved September 2, 2002. 
  4. ^ Thompson, Stith (1977). The Folktale. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. p. 136. 
  5. ^ Hahn, Beth (March 1, 2016). The Singing Bone (1st; Hardcover ed.). Regan Arts. ISBN 9781942872566.