Dan Snow's History Hit


Soviet "Bone Music"

While rifling through a stall at a flea market in Leningrad- now St Petersburg- composer and music producer Stephen Coates came across something unusual. It looked like a vinyl record, but when he held it up to the light, he noticed he could see the pattern of human bones on it. It was a bootlegged record made from an old x-ray. He dubbed his find "Bone Music" and set out to find out more about this ghostly flexi-disc, and the many others he soon found like it.

Known as "music on the ribs" in Russian due to the TB x-rays commonly used, these homemade vinyls were sold in back alleys and out of cars when music was ruthlessly controlled by the State in the Soviet Union. Not only was Western music- Rock'n'Roll, Jazz, Blues - banned but so were traditional Russian folk songs. Stephen travelled around Russia for years collecting Bone Music vinyl and interviewing the bootleggers and the buyers to find out just how dangerous and important it was to keep the music playing in the USSR.

You can find out more about Stephen's work and Bone Music here: www.x-rayaudio.com

Music heard in this episode is courtesy of Nikolai Rechetnik.

Produced by Mariana Des Forges and edited by Dougal Patmore.

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