David C. Bell

Notes on Designing and Building a Concussion Mortar


Occasionally, a production requires the sound of explosions on or near the stage. Recorded explosions are fairly inexpensive and undoubtedly safe, but a genuine explosion has a greater effect on an audience because it is experienced firsthand. Using a concussion mortar is one way to produce a live explosion effect.

A concussion mortar can be purchased from a manufacturer for $60 to $70. For about $15, however, any technician familiar with a drill press and metal lathe can make the mortar shown in Figure 1 in about three hours. Further, during manufacture the technician can tailor the mortar to produce explosions that will meet fairly specific sound design criteria.


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