What is the instrument playing the intro part in They Might Be Giant's cover of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"? And any ideas on where I can find more music which sounds similar?

In an attempt to be more specific: I would like to find more instrumental music similar to the part of this song from 0:00 to 0:41.


This is violin/fiddle played in the famous "gypsy" (Romani) style. You might try looking up "gypsy violin" or "gypsy fiddle" as a start. This style has been very influential over the years. For a more classical take on it, try Bela Bartok's Romanian Dances or Braham's Hungarian Dances. For a more modern spin, look up "gypsy punk."

  • 3
    Just to expand a little: It's indeed a violin, played by session musician Mark Feldman. TMBG strayed from the lounge-lizard feel of the original and styled it after Ottoman music from the era of the fall of Constantinople: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_classical_music That distinctive style is attributed to a number of Mediterranean stringed instruments, including a Turkish instrument called a Kemence: youtube.com/watch?v=uvNEtHaHkWk – user1103 Oct 22 '15 at 2:18
  • 1
    @user1103 - This comment might be worth converting into its own answer. It certainly adds a lot of new information not contained in my original answer. – Chris Sunami Oct 22 '15 at 13:15

The instrument, I think it's simply a violin !

As far as similar music is concerned, try starting with the album that this track is featured on - 'Flood' by 'They might be giants'

  • I've listened to the album (many times), but I'm more interested in instrumental music similar to the first 40 or so seconds of that song. They Might Be Giants like to experiment with a lot of different sounds, and I haven't heard them use anything that sounds similar to it on that album (Flood) or any other. – Ben Sheller Oct 1 '15 at 7:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.