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Awesome as Godzilla may be, in most of his best-loved appearances it’s pretty easy to tell that the world’s most famous kaiju is being portrayed by a guy in a rubber suit. What’s less obvious, though, is how the creature’s unmistakable roar was created, and it turns out there’s actually a rather high-brow origin to the King of the Monsters’ signature sound effect.

While you’d never mistake a Godzilla movie for poignant, tender cinema, there’s no denying that his on-screen appearances are entertaining. Many of his films could also be described as surprisingly innovative, considering that they’re special effects-laden spectacles from a franchise that originated in an era where most people had only a vague idea of what computers were, let alone that they could take the place of practical effects.

But it’s not just the visuals that film studio Toho had to come up with clever ideas for in bringing Godzilla to life, but the sound as well. Godzilla’s name, pronounced “Gojira” in Japanese, is said to be a mash-up of the words gorira (gorilla) and kujira (whale).

It’s not exactly clear by what method the series’ creators determined that gorilla + whale = giant bipedal lizard with atomic breath, but when it came time to give their gargantuan star a voice, the initial plan was to splice together the roars of various intimidating-sounding animals. That didn’t work out as well as they’d expected, though, so they went with a different approach to produce the shrill yet reverberating cry that fans know and love.

First, they took a leather glove and covered it with pitch. Once it was treated, the sound engineers grabbed a contrabass, ran the glove along the strings, and recorded the sound. The recording was then played back in reverse, and the result was what we hear right before Godzilla dishes out a beating to any pretenders to the kaiju crown and/or destroys Tokyo.

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Once you know the source, it’s actually pretty easy to hear the instrument in Godzilla’s roar, with its combination of screeching strings and rumbling timbre.

And if the idea of Godzilla having such a deep connection to the world of music is ruining your image of him as a towering personification of terrible power and ferocity, you could always choose to believe that he sounds the way he does because he just ate a bunch of contrabass players.

Source: Yahoo! Japan
Contrabass image: Wikipedia/AndrewKepert (edited by RocketNews24)
Godzilla images ©RocketNews24