Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

The Ubiquitous Pachelbel’s Canon


You know Pachelbel’s Canon in D.  You do, maybe you just don’t recognize the title.  But you’ve heard it.  Here, listen and watch Pachelbel’s Canon performed by Voices of Music.  Or if you like the visual representations of Stephen Malinowski, you can see his rendering of Pachelbel’s Canon here (the performers are also Voices of Music).

Yes, that one.  Sadly, despite its soothing beauty, it has become a cliché.  It has been used on television, in commercials (this commercial is clever and ridiculous), and to accompany many wedding walks down the aisle.

It’s ingenious.  It’s insidious.  It’s wildly successful.  It doesn’t stop with Pachelbel.

There are countless songs that use the series of chords he uses.  So many, in fact, that lists have been compiled.  Here’s a site listing its use in popular culture.  Here is a YouTube playlist of popular songs using the Pachelbel’s Canon progression.  And these lists leave out older songs such as Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale, Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, Autumn Leaves, and the Village People’s Go West.

In fact, this pattern has become so pervasive, it seems to have sent one former cellist over the edge, and I leave you today with his wonderful musical rant on Pachelbel’s Canon.  Enjoy!


4 thoughts on “The Ubiquitous Pachelbel’s Canon

  1. I knew a theory/composition professor who used to say that if we called him late at night, he would lock us in a room and play Pachelbel’s Canon for 24 hours. Now, who was that . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 At the end of the PDQ Bach album Talkity-Talk Radio (WTWP–wall-to-wall Pachelbel), one of the DJs loses it because she cannot bear to hear the canon, the station’s theme music, one.more.time.


  2. Well, yes. There needs to be an international moratorium on it for a decade or two- and that would make collateral damage out of roughly half the pop songs in the world. The rant, however, was fun and clever- and on target. Well done!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m always amazed at the compositional brilliance of this work. The brilliance is in the textures, which create a series of scenes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.