The mediaeval 'dance of death', in which a skeleton representing death leads a procession of all ages and classes to the grave; an allegorical representation of the power of death over all.

Danse Macabre is also an absolutely spiffing and decidedly spooky piece of music (opus 40, incidentally) by the French composer Carmille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) that makes clever yet restrained use of wooden percussion.

*Someone* let his creation out to feed and failed to properly dispose of the twisted husks it's inclined to leave in its wake....</me taps foot> I swear, this day or another, some unfortunate noder is going to put two and two together and get five an' 3/4s and I'll land m'self *another* cleaning job. Oooh, scones.

A symphonic poem in G minor, Op. 40, composed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1874. It was the third of Saint-Saëns' four "tone poems" and one of his most popular works. The Danse Macabre, or Dance of Death, was originally meant to be a song for voice and piano, but Saint-Saëns later modified it to be performed by an orchestra. (and Gorgonzola points out that he parodied "Danse Macabre" just a few years later in the "Fossils" section of his "Carnival of the Animals." Most of "Fossils" was performed on xylophone, no doubt creating images of some prehistoric Lucifer conjuring up a bunch of dancing dinosaur bones.)

Unlike many pieces of classical music in which the story is impossible to follow without a program, the story in Danse Macabre is quite clear. After the clock strikes midnight, the devil (Saint-Saëns originally meant it to be Death itself) tunes up his violin and fiddles up a waltz, conjuring up a dancing army of ghosts, skeletons, demons, and monsters. As the horrors frolic through the night, the waltz, with strings, xylophones, and woodwinds dominating, spirals to wilder and greater heights, until a rooster (actually an oboe) crows. As the sun starts to peep over the horizon, the spectral host scurry back to the graves, and the devil plays a mournful fiddle solo before he slinks back to hell.

Oh, and Stephen King wrote a nonfiction book on the art of horror called "Danse Macabre" back in the 1980s. It was nifty-keen, and nearly all of the books and movies he mentions are definitely worth checking out.

Research from www.allclassical.com and from listening to the song a lot.

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