The term “riff” usually implies guitar, keyboard, or, less often, bass. You know, rock ‘n’ roll instruments, not classical. Strings play “parts”; they don’t play “riffs.” Well, unless those strings are playing for Led Zeppelin. “Kashmir” boasts one of the hardest-hitting string riffs ever recorded, and referring to it with any other term undercuts its power.
Strings being so central to the original, a stringed cover of “Kashmir” makes sense. Well, New York musician Maya Beiser recorded such a cover, with a twist: all the strings are cello. Yes, twelve cellos went into this “Kashmir” as part of her effort to return the instrument to its Middle Eastern roots. Supported only by Jerry Marotta’s drumming – no vocals here, thank you very much – Beiser builds a dark symphony brick by brick.
“Kashmir is that one rock tune that goes to the Middle East,” she told NPR . “The Led Zeppelin guys went to Morocco to explore the music of the Middle East, and the whole second part of the song has this long improvisation … in this Arabic scale. I thought, what a great way for me to rock with my cello.”
Her new music video lets you see her in action, Arabic scale and all. Check it out below.