Marvelous Musical Fountains

Marina McLerran

Editor, McLerran Journal

Assistant Band Director, Center ISD, TX




Since the stone age, mankind has used its technological advances to create beautiful things. A particularly constant theme around the world is the construction of intricate fountains which provide a cultural landmark, but also pay homage to water; a critical element which makes up about 70% of our planet’s surface and is required by all living things. The growing trend of adding electronic spouts, colorful lights, and fireworks shows to these fountains has provided numerous cities with a boost in tourism and promoted the idea of international unity through art and music.   

The Dubai Fountain (India)

India is an Asian country that spans from the Himalayan Mountains (the highest range in the world) to the Indian Ocean (World Atlas). With a total population of about 1.2 billion, it is the 2nd most populous country on Earth (World Atlas, 2013). Although there is an enormous amount of diversity throughout the country, approximately 80% of the population are Hindu and speak either Hindi or English (World Atlas). India is characterized by both its rural plains and major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Calcutta (World Atlas). Major attractions in India include the Taj Mahal, the Ganges River, the Agra Fort, and Ellora Caves.

The fountain at the Dubai Mall, built in 2009, is one of the largest dancing fountains in the world with a total length of almost 900 feet and over 50 color projectors (Gornall). Water from the fountain can be shot up to 152 meters (or 50 stories) high (Gornall). Show times are 1pm and 1:30pm daily (with an additional 2pm show on Fridays) and in the evenings from 6-11pm in half hour intervals (Dubai Mall). Programming the fountain starts with a computer simulation by Water Entertainment Technology (WET), a Los Angeles-based company, and takes between two and four weeks total (Gornall). The U.S. programmers make a conscious effort to select music which is culturally relevant world-wide in order to “complement […] the diversity of the visitors (Gornall).” Past selections have included works by Adele, Pavarotti, Lionel Richie, Edie Al Menhali, and Dvorak (Gornall).

Watch the Dubai Fountain Here 


Musical Fountain at Big Wild Goose Pagoda (China)

Geographically, China is the fourth largest country in the world with a total area of almost 9.6 million square kilometers and a population of approximately 1.3 billion people (World Atlas, 2013). There are more than ten different dialects spoken throughout the country, but the official language of China is Chinese or Mandarin (World Atlas). The majority of Chinese people are Daoist or Buddhist, with less than 5% of the population practicing Christianity or Islam (World Atlas). The geography of China ranges from mountainous regions to deserts and also includes more than 9000 miles of coastline (World Atlas). Attractions in China include the Forbidden City, the Terra Cotta Warriors in Shaanxi, the Yangtze River (third longest in the world), the Great Wall of China, and Mt. Everest (World Atlas).

The musical fountain is housed inside the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian, China along the historic silk road. This major tourist attraction is considered a holy place for Buddhists and was added to the World Heritage List in 2014 (Travel China Guide). The site was first constructed in 652 (more than 1300 years ago) during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in order to store and protect items of religious importance (Travel China Guide). According to Michael Tieso of the Art of Adventuring, the square surrounding the musical fountain is equipped with “the most benches, the longest light-belt, and the largest-scale acoustic complex in the world.” Stretching over 1100 feet long and more than 700 feet wide, the fountain is the largest of its kind in Asia (China Xian Tour). Over one thousand nozzles in the fountain shoot water up to 60 meters high and will likely get the surrounding platform, and audience members, soaking wet (Tieso).  

Watch the Fountain Here


Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas (US) 

Las Vegas, also known as “sin city,” was originally home to famous American mobsters, illegal gambling operations, and is completely surrounded by desert. The city is made up primarily of hotel-casinos and is located only 271 miles from the Grand Canyon. Because of the large number of performance venues and general air of luxury, Las Vegas has hosted countless world famous musicians including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Celine Dion.   

The fountain at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas “is the most ambitious water feature ever conceived in terms of choreographic complexity and scale (MGM Resorts International).” Designed by Las Angeles-based company, WET, the fountain is approximately 1000 ft across and has the ability to shoot water up to 460 ft high (MGM Resorts International). Using original technology, like the oarsman and water “shooters,” WET has created one of the most recognizable fountains in the world. The oarsman, invented specifically for the Bellagio project, is “a self-contained robotic nozzle that includes a variable frequency drive, pump, and lights (Mraz).” This technology takes water directly from the fountain and therefore does not require a connection to water pipes (Mraz). There are approximately two hundred oarsman devices in the Bellagio fountain (Mraz). "Shooters," available in a range of sizes from nanoshooters to supershooters, are another WET-patented technology that distinguish the Bellagio fountain from others around the world (Mraz). Using a system of automatic valves and compressed air, these devices have the ability to shoot water in quick spurts across the fountain at a variety of heights and angles (Mraz). The Bellagio fountain contains approximately eight hundred minishooters and almost two hundred supershooters (Mraz). Shows are every half hour from 3-8pm Monday-Friday and every fifteen minutes from 8pm-12; times vary on weekends and holidays (MGM Resorts International).

Watch the Bellagio Fountain Here



The Dubai Mall. (2018). The Dubai Fountain. The Dubai Mall. Emaar Malls. Web. 2 May 2018.



Gornall, Jonathan. (2018). Dubai Fountain: The Stories Behind the Music. The National. London.

          Web. 2 May 2018. <



World Atlas. (2018). India. World Atlas. Web. 2 May, 2018.



Travel China Guide. (2018). Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayan Pagoda). Travel China Guide. Web. 2

          May, 2018. <>


Tieso, Michael. (2010). Musical Fountain Show in Xi’an, China. Art of Adventuring. Web. 3 May,

          2018. <>


World Atlas. (2018). China. World Atlas. Web. May 3, 2018.



China Xian Tour. (2018). North Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Music Fountain Show.

          China Xian Tour. Web. 4 May, 2018. <



MGM Resorts International. (2018). Fountains of Bellagio: Our Calling Card. MGM Resorts

          International. Web. 6 May, 2018. <



Mraz, Stephen. (2003). Application Profile: The Motors, Pumps, and Valves That Make Water

          Dance. Machine Design. Web. 6 May, 2018.