Meanspeed Review: The Speed Of Beatific Gothic Loneliness and Surrealism – KASHMIR – Led Zeppelin – meanspeed=81.7 bpm, meanemotion=loneliness

KASHMIR, by Led Zeppelin is a song from their 1975 album Physical Graffiti . One of the band’s all time favorites , it was played in every concert they played from 1975-198.

This song is what I have noted as a “musical irony of speed.” As Robert plant says, it is the drummer John Bonham that drives this song. When the song is used in the film Fast Times At Ridgemont High,

We know there is a “problem” with the geeky guy trying to seduce the “cute” girl in his car—especially when his date behavior is based on advice from a “cool” friend who tells him: Led Zeppelin. This movie was funny in 1984, and it is still funny.

Why does the song “work” though? Let’s call it the John Denver/Freddie Mercury effect. Meaning: take the songs We Will Rock You by Queen, Take me Home Country Roads and Rocky Mountain High by John Denver contain lyrics whereby one might say to themselves: “This performance is expressing sweetness,” or in Queen’s song “toughness.” Let’s look at the replay, though. All the songs, and Kashmir, sit in the middle of the speed range in mean-speed theory known as Lonely. So it’s a simple effect to create. The speed implies I’m Lonely!,” where the music and lyrics rail against it saying “[“I’m tough in hard times nonetheless!]”

The musical counterintuivity, in the form of tempo irony, is also seen. Intuitively, this song played at a speed of 82 would be 6 beats per minute faster and hence “happier” than 76 beats per minute. The counterinuition is the truth, though. What at 76 beats per minute would sound as a graceful confident love song sounds strangely like a gothic funeral ceremony.

Kashmir is on a genius level. Another song that I wanted to compare Kashmir with is Prince’s Take Me With You from Prince’s Purple Rain.


The thrashing, hard rock and roll sound is interspersed, in both songs, with eerie and beatifically surreal orchestral pieces.

The mean speed, or the speed of the song expressed as beats per minute= 81.7 beats per minute.
The mean space, or time between each beat= 734 milliseconds.
The mean slow phase= 1.36 cycles per second.
The mean tone= 348.59 Hertz, where each of the frequencies correspond to the tones, in equal temperament, the closest proximity is with the note F natural,– where the F4=349.228 Hertz, which= 20,953.68 beats per minute, divided in half 8 times (20,953.68/256)=81.9 beats per minute. The next closest tone is an E natural, E4=329.628 Hertz, which=19,777.7 beats per minute, again divided by 256=77.25 beats per minute

The graphs are based on a spreadsheet generated with this method:
a) I calibrated the (quarter-notes) ten times with Nike 300-lap stopwatches;
b) Ten trials were entered, averaged and coordinated.
using Microsoft’s Excel, created in on Windows XP, on Gateway hardware modified by Microsoft’s Excel

for MacIntosh 2004 on an Apple iBook G4 as hardware.
The linear trendlines are courtesy of/derived with same Microsoft Excel program.

Ian Andrew Schneider
Meanspeed Music School
July 16, 2009

wiki says:

Kashmir (song)

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Song by Led Zeppelin
Album Physical Graffiti
Released 24 February 1975
Recorded 1974
Genre Hard rock
Length 8:28
Label Swan Song
Writer Page, Plant, Bonham
Producer Jimmy Page
Physical Graffiti track listing
“Trampled Under Foot”
“In the Light”

Kashmir” is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin from their sixth album Physical Graffiti, released in 1975. It was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (with contributions from John Bonham) over a period of three years, with the lyrics dating back to 1973.



  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Influence
    • 2.1 Accolades
  • 3 Formats and tracklistings
  • 4 Chart positions
    • 4.1 Single (Digital download)
  • 5 Personnel
  • 6 Cover versions
    • 6.1 Album versions
    • 6.2 Samples
  • 7 Sources
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


[edit] Overview

“Kashmir” is widely considered to be one of Led Zeppelin’s most successful songs; all four band members have agreed that it is to date one of their best musical achievements.[1] John Paul Jones suggested that it showcases all of the elements that made up the Led Zeppelin sound.[2] Plant has stated that “Kashmir” is the “definitive Led Zeppelin song”,[3] and that it “was one of my favourite [Led] Zeppelin tracks because it possessed all the latent energy and power that wasn’t heavy metal. It was something else. It was the pride of Led Zeppelin.”[4] During a television interview in January 2008, he also named “Kashmir” as his first choice of all Led Zeppelin songs that he would perform, commenting “I’m most proud of that one”.[5] Page has indicated he thinks that the song is one of the band’s best compositions.[6]

The song centres around a signature chord progression guitar riff, which first appeared on Page’s home-studio work tapes.[2] It was initially a tuning, an extension of a guitar-cycle that Page had been working on for years. This was the same cycle that produced “Black Mountain Side,” “White Summer” and the unreleased track, “Swan-song.”[2] As bass player and keyboardist John Paul Jones had been late for the recording sessions, Page used the time to work on the riff with drummer John Bonham. The two demoed it late in 1973.[7] Plant later added the middle section and in early 1974 Jones added all the string parts.[2][7]

The guitar was played in an alternative guitar tuning: the strings are tuned to ‘Open Dsus4’ or DADGAD. Bonham’s drums feature a phasing effect courtesy of an early Eventide phaser supplied by engineer Ron Nevison.[8] Plant has stated that Bonham’s drumming is the key to the song: “It was what he didn’t do that made it work”.[2]

The song also includes many distinctive musical patterns of classical Moroccan, Indian and Middle Eastern music. Page explained that “I had a sitar for some time and I was interested in modal tunings and Arabic stuff. It started off with a riff and then employed Eastern lines underneath.”[4]

Orchestral brass and strings with electric guitar and mellotron strings are also used in the song. This is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs to use outside musicians. Session players were brought in for the string and horn sections.[7] According to Jones, “the secret of successful keyboard string parts is to play only the parts that a real string section would play. That is, one line for the First Violins, one line for Second Violins, one for Violas, one for Cellos, one for Basses. Some divided parts [two or more notes to a line] are allowed, but keep them to a minimum. Think melodically”.[9]

Originally called “Driving to Kashmir”, the lyrics to the song were written by Plant in 1973 immediately after Led Zeppelin’s 1973 US Tour, in an area he called “the waste lands”[4] of Southern Morocco, while driving from Goulimine to Tantan in the Sahara Desert.[2][7] This was despite the fact that the song is named for Kashmir, a region in the northernmost part of the Indian subcontinent.[10] As Plant explained to rock journalist Cameron Crowe:

The whole inspiration came from the fact that the road went on and on and on. It was a single-track road which neatly cut through the desert. Two miles to the East and West were ridges of sandrock. It basically looked like you were driving down a channel, this dilapidated road, and there was seemingly no end to it. ‘Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dreams…’ It’s one of my favourites…that, ‘All My Love’ and ‘In the Light’ and two or three others really were the finest moments. But ‘Kashmir’ in particular. It was so positive, lyrically.[2]

In an interview he gave to William S. Burroughs in 1975, Page mentioned that at the time the song was composed, none of the band members had even been to Kashmir.[11]

The song runs for 8:28, a length that radio stations usually consider too long to play. However, upon its release radio stations had no problem playing “Kashmir,” especially after seeing “Stairway to Heaven”, which was almost as long, do so well. (Original LP releases of Physical Graffiti incorrectly list the song’s length as 9:41.)

“Kashmir” was played live at almost every Led Zeppelin concert from its debut in 1975. One live version, from Led Zeppelin’s performance at Knebworth in 1979, is featured on disc 2 of the Led Zeppelin DVD. This performance came from the band’s first show at the venue, on 4 August. The surviving members of Led Zeppelin also performed “Kashmir” at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988. It was again performed at Led Zeppelin’s reunion show at the The O2, London on 10 December 2007.

When the band performed the song live, Robert Plant would switch the last verse with the second verse after singing the first verse normally. The third verse would also be sung normally in its original spot. When Led Zeppelin came together for Atlantic records’ 40th Anniversary in 1988, Robert accidentally sang the second verse twice. He admitted to doing this by singing “Oh father of the four winds fill my sails (again) across the sea of years” during the fourth verse. He never ended up singing the third verse (“Oh pilot of the storm…”) before the mistake. However, he did sing “With talk and song from tongues…” during the third verse while trying to correct it by singing “I will return again…” halfway through. Also Plant, known for his improvision while performing, would ad lib a lot during “Kashmir”. He would add in “sweet mama”, “slowly dyin'”, “now just a minute”, “sweet darlin'”, and he would stutter the words “baby” and “mama”. He would also end that section with “there’s no denyin’ while I’m talkin’ to ya.”

Page and Plant recorded another version in 1994, released on their album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded. For this arrangement, they added an orchestra and Egyptian musicians.

Led Zeppelin expert Dave Lewis describes “Kashmir” as:

Unquestionably the most startling and impressive track on Physical Graffiti, and arguably the most progressive and original track that Led Zeppelin ever recorded. ‘Kashmir’ went a long way towards establishing their credibility with otherwise sceptical rock critics. Many would regard this track as the finest example of the sheer majesty of Zeppelin’s special chemistry.[7]