Creating a Lion's Roar

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The lion’s roar is a friction-based percussion instrument that is often used in sound effect applications, producing a fascinating semi-pitched moaning sound. It is not often sold, but is relatively easy to create.
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Step 1:

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The first requirement is a drum. It does not necessarily need to be a high-quality shell; in fact a lion’s roar is a great use for an old shell. The drum should be a tom-tom with a minimum diameter of about twelve inches. The ideal diameter is around sixteen inches—this is large enough to give a satisfyingly low tone while being small enough to avoid the unwieldiness that inherently comes with larger drums. While the depth of the tom-tom is not super important, ensure that it is deep enough to give plenty of room for the tone to resonate. Finally, it does not matter if the tom-tom has one or two heads, as only one will be used in the final product.

Step 2:

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The second requirement is a drum head. Again, this is a great use for an older head. Avoid using double-ply heads, as the separation of the plies can cause problems when the hole is cut in the head later in the process. Furthermore, thicker heads are generally better. In addition to being less durable, thinner heads have a more brittle tonal quality to them instead of the full-bodied timbre that is desired. The Remo Fiberskyn heads are a fantastic choice—thick, single-ply heads with a texturing that translates into a darker, more complex aural texture.

Step 3:

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Now, a hole must be cut in the center of the head. There is not really a perfect way to do this; simply use an X-acto knife, an awl, or another similar tool to make a small hole (no more than a quarter inch across) in the center of the head. If possible, try to make the cut in such a way that it will not rip and spread—round out corners or make additional cross-cuts to take pressure off of the slits.

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