In the song "The Hall of Mirrors" by Kraftwerk, there is a background to the song that is a rising sequence of electronic bell-like sounds, as if playing an arpeggio. This is similar to what I think is an electric piano playing more pronounced single notes starting around time 4:25 in the following video of the song:

I'm wondering what the instrument or device is used to make those digital arpeggios. A simple electric piano, some kind of computer program synthesizing it, or what?

  • 1
    Many different synthesizers could do this. If you like this sort of thing, you should look for a hardware analog synth or a software emulation of an analog synth. After that, you have years of learning and tweaking and playing ahead of you. It's s big world but it's fun. Sep 23, 2016 at 10:45
  • sounds like a "ring modulator"
    – Yorik
    Sep 23, 2016 at 16:22
  • Why the downvote?
    – cr0
    Mar 8, 2017 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


Google dates the track to 1977; appearing on Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express album. With Kraftwerk it is maybe easy to overlook the simplicity of their equipment (in relative terms), because they didn't use conventional acoustic or 'rock' instruments. A general rundown of their equipment, by era, can be found here:

Kraftwerk Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

More specifically they list the following equipment for 'the late 1970s'.

Equipment used in the late 1970's included:

  • 2 "Synthanorma" 16-step custom-built analogue sequencers built by Matten & Wiechers
  • Farfisa electric piano
  • custom-built electronic drum pads
  • Moog Minimoog
  • ARP Odyssey
  • Orchestron (see the separate entry below)

From this list we can rule out the Orchestron, which was basically built along the lines of the classic Mellotron and used by Kraftwerk for string and orchestral lines and pads.

The bass line could be coming from either the Moog, the ARP Odyssey or even the Farfisa electric piano (potentially a 'Professional Piano' model). Farfisa electric pianos are fully electronic, rather than electro-acoustic like a Wurlitzer or Fender Rhodes, and in the lower register they will sound quite like the bass on this track.

The repeating sequence could be coming from the ARP or the custom sequencer listed above. The bell-like phrase highlighted in the original question sounds like Moog or ARP work, with a patch set to have quite a metallic edge to it, possibly with two oscillators, one set to a higher octave and slightly detuned. It could potentially be the Farfisa piano, treated or driving some sort of synth hardware. Both the sequencer and the lead synth lines are both treated with tape echo; possibly a Roland RE-201 Space Echo as listed elsewhere on the site above (and period correct for 1977).

  • 1
    The Mellotron and Orchestron both played analogue samples, but they are not really 'built along the same lines' - the Mellotron used tape-based samples (8 seconds max I think) whilst the orchestron used samples encoded on optical disks, which could sustain as long as you liked. Sep 23, 2016 at 15:58
  • Thanks for clarifying that! I think I was mixing up the Orchestron with various other early samplers. From your description the Orchestron functions like the Optigan, whereas the Mellotron used tapes of a fixed length? I read that Tangerine Dream modified a Mellotron to work on a loop, using filtering to remove the 'click' from where the tape looped. I have a recording of Kraftwerk performing in Manchester in the '70s, and there does seem to be a repeated click on some of the vocal pad sounds they used, though this might just be from a damaged Orchestron disk.
    – ABragg
    Sep 29, 2016 at 9:15

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