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I've read that you should just spray a hose up into the air and record close to the ground (preferably on grass), or just wait for a rainy day. But what about in a radio-show or life performance situation? Say the audience shouldn't get wet?

Is the only option those rain maker things? Or is there something more DIY?

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For a live-sound design production of "King Lear" we constructed a rain machine that consisted of a long, narrow (5 foot by 7 inch) wooden box on a teeter-totter fulcrum. The box had dozens of nails sticking out of the bottom and we filled it with dried beans. As you rocked the seesaw back and forth you could get more or less continual rainfall and also control the ebb and flow of the "water."

For wind you can build a large barrel with canvas draped over it; when you turn the handle on the side it will sound like the wind is blowing.

Some illustrations

a better look at the wind machine

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