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I'm reading The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett and the following sentence is describing one of the characters' voice:

"Her singing voice - she was training at the conservatoire in Vienna when she fell pregnant with Eva - is a good octave higher: a bright soprano, clean and pure as pared bone."

I looked up the dictionary and it says "to pare" can mean "to remove", "to reduce", or "to peel". But I still don't understand what a "pared bone" is. Is it a sharpened, polished bone? Or a very thin piece of bone? And therefore I can hardly imagine what kind of voice is like a "pared bone". Can anybody explain the idea for me?

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    Bone from which the meat has been cut cleanly and completely away. Perhaps we're meant to think of a bone flute?
    – TimR
    Nov 15, 2015 at 17:28
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    @TRomano: My father can play spoons/bones, but I don't think the bones would "clack" very well if they still had shreds of meat on them. As for using dirty spoons... Nov 15, 2015 at 19:01

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In short, pared bone is a bone which has had every vestige of flesh, sinew, grease and gristle removed. You may recognize this more readily called by its more common name: Ivory. Here's a picture below (though this bone has been pared into a carving as well):

Decorated Ivory retrieve from Wikimedia

With that in mind, is "...a bright soprano, clean and pure as ivory." a bit easier to picture?

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  • Yes. Thanks a lot. Ivory renders a more beautiful feeling than bone. Nov 17, 2015 at 8:34

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