Transforming a dog bark into a dragon roar

In honor of the last season of Game of Thrones, we decided to transform a dog bark into a dragon roar.

In Game of Thrones, sound designer Paula Farfield created Drogon’s roar by combining the sounds of birds, insects, and turtle growls. To celebrate the show’s final season, we show you how you can create your own dragon roar. For this exercise, one of our product designers was kind enough to let us sample Zoe, his French Bulldog.

Check out our walkthrough video to see the full process:


We’ve also highlighted some key takeaways from the video below.

The pre/post-roar gurgle

I decided to break up the roar into 2 main groups: pre/post-roar gurgle and the main roar. For the gurgling that happens before and after the roar, it was important to use the Sustain mode in Ableton to make the gurgling last longer.

Using the Sustain mode is one of the best ways to make creative sounds from sampling, and it can even get into the realm of granular synthesis if you set the loop braces short enough. Even if you aren’t using Ableton, most samplers have some form of this ‘looping’ feature.


The main roar

For the main roar, the overall strategy was to pitch the bark transients down -30 / -40 semitones (make sure you use Complex Pro) to achieve the deep sound of a dragon. The other main technique was time stretching it to create a longer sustain, since Zoe’s barks were pretty short. Remember that if you’re able to record at a higher sample rate (48 kHz or 96 kHz), you’ll be able to preserve more of the high frequencies when time-stretching to extreme degrees.


I encourage you to try doing this with your own dog’s bark, since this is a great way to build your sound design skills. Show us what you were able to create in the comments below.

April 21, 2019

Nick Chen Content Marketing @ Splice. Nick Chen is a producer, performer, and educator under the aliases "nickthechen" and "Enix."