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Instruments in "Kiss Them For Me" by Siouxsie and the Banshees
March 22, 2014 9:47 AM   Subscribe

What instruments were used to create the definitive sound of "Kiss Them For Me" by Siouxsie and the Banshees? I am particularly interested in finding out what the bell-sounding instrument that starts near the beginning of the song. Below is a partial list of when particular lines starts. Please correct or elaborate my rough descriptions if you can.

0:00 sample from "PSK, What Does It Mean?" — Schoolly D
0:03 bell-sounding instrument?
0:05 sounds like Indian bagpipes?
0:10 ?
0:16 synthesizer? (what sound does it approximate)?
1:03 guitar?
1:39 viola? sarangi?
1:45 tumbi?

I know there's a tabla in there somewhere too.
posted by grouse to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is one of my favorite songs of all time. :D

Did some digging for the album credits, found this. Maybe it'll get you started? Mentioned tabla and tavil, so you were heading in the right direction.

Guessing you might have to hunt down the sheet music, if possible and/or available. Good luck!
posted by cardinality at 10:14 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

I love this song, and the I think the production is really great. Here are some best guesses!

:03 - I think this is a processed tabla sound. They have a bit of a bell-like quality.
:05 - Indian bagpipes sounds about right.
:10 - Guitar.
1:03 - Yup, guitar.
1:39 - I think this is a heavily processed cello. Maybe a synth.
1:45 - Sitar, I think
posted by seymourScagnetti at 11:16 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

seymourScagnetti is probably on the right track. I've read several interviews with Sioux where she complains about that album being (to paraphrase) "basically computer-generated" and that it's not her favorite for that reason.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:54 PM on March 22

Wikipedia says Talvin Singh is playing tablas. That’s what I’m hearing.
posted by bongo_x at 11:13 PM on March 22

And sitar (probably sampled) and guitars and synths.
posted by bongo_x at 11:24 PM on March 22

0:03 bell-sounding instrument?

Yeah, absolutely a tabla. Here's a video where you can hear the bell-like tones tablas can make.

0:05 sounds like Indian bagpipes?

It's some kind of Arabic reed instrument, anyway, although something about it makes me think it's actually a synth player emulating one. The pitch changes are too regular? It matches a little too well with the Western scale the rest of the song is in? (Arabic music uses a different tone system than European or European-derived music.) Dunno, but I wouldn't be surprised either way, whether it's an actual instrument or a synth.

0:10 ?

I'm not 100% sure which part you're asking about. If it's the bit that goes, "BaDa BaDa BaDa BaDaaa" - where the Ba is a lower pitch than the Da, and the figure repeats twice before the next melodic part (your next question) comes in - I want to say that's another keyboard/synth part, but it's hard to tell. Could be a guitar or even a dulcimer.

0:16 synthesizer? (what sound does it approximate)?

Yup, synth. Not really emulating much of anything, IMO, although the sound itself seems sort of derived from a combination of percussive organ, strings, and some high bell sounds, with a lot of reverb added.

1:03 guitar?

Yup. Pretty heavily compressed and then doubled and hard panned left and right.

1:39 viola? sarangi?

This sounds mostly like another keyboard/synth part to me, although given that one of the musicians has a cello credit, there could be some of that in there too. (Remember that multi-track recording allows for more than one instrument to play the same parts, so various sounds can be a combination of multiple instruments.)

1:45 tumbi?

This is another one where I'm not sure which part you're interested in, but if we're thinking of the same bit I agree with seymourScagnetti, that it's either a sitar or a keyboard (possibly a guitar) mimicking one.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:04 AM on March 23

I just watched a video of them lip syncing on TV and they have a tabla player and a hand pump harmonium on stage.

Thanks for reminding me how great this song is, I’d forgotten all about it.
posted by bongo_x at 12:51 PM on March 23

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