DRUMS IN THE DEEP
When scoring for fantasy, there are countless settings where conventional percussion simply doesn’t cut it: fiery iron forges, royal celebrations, traditional folk festivals, and that’s just scratching the surface. That’s when you need percussion that doesn’t just carry the drama of the scene, but feels perfectly at home in the world you’re composing for. We’ve selected each instrument in this collection to span every setting imaginable so that no matter the scoring task, you have the tools to not only underscore the drama on-screen, but to wrap up the audience in an entirely new, fantastical world they need to hear to believe.
If you’ve ever listened to Celtic folk music, chances are you’re familiar with the rich quality of the bodhran. This handheld drum is typically played with a two-sided mallet or by hand, offering a gentle but firm pulse to keep the music moving (and the ale flowing). Listen to how this delightful folk drum livens up the score to Braveheart and Titanic!
3 GRAN CASSAS
We also added a bass drum into this collection to help extend the low end of the orchestra, which is notably absent in many traditional ensembles. Rather than the rounded, mellow mallet hits in conventional orchestral playing, the gran cassa is struck in a much wider range of impacts.
3 LARGE TAIKOS
This drum likely needs no introduction due to its omnipresence in video game and film scores, but we recorded a tight-knit ensemble to provide the glorious bassy rumble these massive drums are famed for. Their ominous low end simply can’t be beaten. Okami, The Last Samurai, and countless other soundtracks have used taikos for their incredible tone and power.
600 LB NAGADO ENSEMBLE
Unlike other taikos, the massive nagado-daiko was designed for rituals and spiritual uses, and as such is a great way to underscore austere ceremonies with a single, haunting low impact. This drum ensemble especially shines in slow, quiet passages with little competition in the orchestra.
These Balinese cymbals have a splashy, resonant character perfect for background ambience; they’re much softer than their Western counterparts and work wonders for broadening your palette of metals without the normal harshness of cymbals.
Small chromatic cymbals that blend the quality of a glockenspiel and wind chimes — these are a great way to sustain a gradual, regal melody and offer a delightful contrast with wind and stringed instruments. James Horner used crotales to great effect in the 90s film Sneakers.
CYMBAL AND GONG ENSEMBLE
A collection of assorted struck, rolled, and tapped metals for whenever you need a dose of inspiration. Inside this diverse collection you’ll find all manner of shapes and sizes (literally) you can use to brighten up your Fantasy Orchestra.
This unique shaker is a collection of hoof trimmings gathered by indigenous peoples while milking their goats. The result is a dry, brittle rattle ideal for underscoring eerie, mystical rituals performed by ancient cultures.
GOATNAILS AND CENG CENGS
A mixture of alternate performances of other instruments above, focused on ease and playability to quickly introduce a variety of timbres into your score. This is a great starting point when you need a little inspiration to move your ideas along.
North African castanets with a similar tone to the ceng ceng, but with a rounder timbre and lower in pitch. Their hollow quality sets them apart from other cymbals and adds a floating, soft feel to this percussion suite.
This shaker provides a soft, dispersed sound ideal for gently driving the rhythm; its airiness creates the perfect high-end complement to a drum ensemble without the splashiness of cymbals to round out the arrangement with a nice accent layer.
NAGARA RUB FX
Imagine a deep, atonal bowed instrument howling in the night and you’ll arrive at a similar sound to this rubbed Indian drum. This festival and temple staple is evocative and mysterious, and a great tool for letting your imagination run wild.
NAGARA AND ASHIKO
A combination of multiple folk drums evoking images of festivals, street performances, rituals, and any manner of other fantasy cultural settings. You’ll find a collection of hits, rolls, rim taps, and more to build your own robust drum ensemble. The nagara is often used in the popular dance form Ghoomar, commonly attributed to the 2018 movie Padmaavat.
ORCHESTRAL BELL ENSEMBLE
We’ve also included chimes to help round out the collection and lock in with a more conventional orchestra, though they’re equally suited to adding the sound of church bells in a castle town or scoring joyous ceremonies that demand regal treatment.
A collection of large metals being grazed, struck, and beaten for a suite of heavy industrial sounds; if you need the sound of a forge or assembly line from a distant realm, this is exactly how to do it.
No Fantasy Percussion suite would be complete without the sound of a traditional drum corps — when great armies are marching into battle, this snare ensemble is an essential tool to convey the grandeur and scale necessary to get the job done.
The deeper, rounder cousin to the snare ensemble, this creates a hefty lower-mid power layer for additional oomph in your drum core (or simply a nice thwack when needed).
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