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.

FIGURE ...

Get Technical Design Solutions for Theatre now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.