If you are one of the fortunate few who inherited a good set of bones, you got a good start on a happy life! I was not so fortuante, but Mary Ann remedied that situation on Christmas morning when she presented me with a brand new set of shiny bones. Vintage rhythm bones from the folks at Bone Dry Musical Instruments Company. She also presented me with a challenge—learning to competently play this ancient and wonderful instrument.
Ranking, as they do, among civilization's oldest musical instruments, I figure that the bones make up a suitable instrument for a gentleman of my rapidly advancing years. Examples of ancient rhythm bones have been found in excavated Egyptian tombs, and rattling the bones was a popular musical pastime throughout the classical era of Greece and Rome. Later, of course, the bones became the rhythmic backbone, pun intended, of Irish reels and jigs. And African-American musicians adopted the bones and incorporated them into the traditional banjar (precursor of the banjo) tunes that made up the the most popular folk music of early black America.
Today, on rare occasions, you can hear the bones at folk music venues. On even rarer occasions you can hear masters of the bones like Dom Flemons (formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops) if you are lucky enough to find him performing in your area. If you are unlucky, you might drop by my house and hear me practicing the bones. Several hours every day. Before you judge, let me remind you that Mary Ann knew what she was doing when she gave me these things.