The "Bones Band" of California
From the late middle ages
renaissance the church-related
phenomena known as the Dance of Death, the Dance of the Dead Ones, and
Macabre all artistically depicted skeletons dancing and playing musical
instruments. We know that there were theatrical expressions of this
but surviving details are scarce. The more plentiful remains include
songs, woodcuts, murals, etc.
Genesis of the Bones Band
While researching percussion instruments of renaissance
exhumed several post-mortal images, including this print by Hans
Holbein had realized that the bone-rattling dance of happy skeletons
a perfect fit with the sounds of percussion. As I dug deeper into the
it proved to be a rich mulch of philosophical, spiritual, political,
and artistic associations. The theatrical potential was obvious, so a
course was set and embarked upon.
I built instrument
replicas and variations. With a
friends the costumes and masks were created. In the late 1970's the
Danse Macabre, (AKA the Bones Band), was born. The original
four members were more and more regularly joined by one-time,
volunteers and frequent dead-again drop ins. As the show gained
it grew to become a fairly long procession, with sometimes huge
re-incarnations for special occasions. Over the years the Bones Band
has enjoyed the participation of thousands of people and entertained
millions of onlookers at a variety of festive events in California.
Rumor even has it that spin-off groups have sprung up like daisies at a
graveyard in a variety of places throughout America.
poetry, the murals on church walls, and even the skeleton figures that
appear in the
margins of Queen Elizabeth's personal prayer book, laid a fertlie
artistic foundation. We
join in the spirit of the Mexican Day of the Dead, (All
Souls Day), and traditions
of many other cultures in celebration of fleeting life on earth, and
for ancestors in the world beyond.
After having been the Boss Bone for several years I left in
'85 to pursue other dreams.
But returning occasionally as a Dead Beat Daddy it's always a kick to
the Bones Band grows and lives on.
For more info on the tradition of Danse
photos of the Bones Band:
Still Dead: The
California Bones Band
Catholic Encyclopedia on "danse macabre"
many examples of
Danse Macabre in art
Macabre in Film
One more from the
For links regarding man's general realtionship with "Death",
et sapientia est meditatio mortis