When the Lion or Dragon performs its routines, it is accompanied by a Chinese Drum and a set of cymbal players. The Lion’s movements are choreographed to the music of the drum and cymbals.
The drummer is important in that he or she sets the rhythm for the lion and dictates the movements that the lion will perform.
The cymbal players stand on either side of the drummer and face towards the same direction of the drummer, who always keeps a watchful eye on the Lion.
The music of the performance is arranged in different patterns that the dancers must be very familiar with and be able to follow. Each pattern signifies certain movements and with each beat, the drummer can communicate to the lion or dragon as to which movement to do. The lion and dragon can communicate to the drummer by making subtle gestures since they cannot give audible signals to the drummer. With all elements in play, the performance displays a high degree of orchestration and effective story-telling.
The drum is made of a heavy wood shell covered with dried buffalo skin stretched over the top and pinned into the sides of the upper rim. Inside the drum are metal coils that provide resonance to enhance the deep sound of the drum.