A.Song.A.Day – Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel

pachelbelThe name Johann Pachelbel might not necessarily ring a bell with everyone among us, but I doubt there is a music lover who wouldn’t have heard this most famous creation of his, either as is or in some other derivative form. The Canon, formally Canon and Gigue in D Major for three Violins and Basso Continuo, was written circa 1680 by Pachelbel. Although it was accompanied by a gigue, it was the canon which went on to hog the limelight. The reason for this would obviously be the beauty of the composition, the heart-warming sensation that it imparts. For that matter the gigue too is a well-arranged piece, but it lacks the endearing feel that canon possesses. Incidentally this is the only canon that the German composer wrote in his lifetime.
The Canon rose in popularity in the 1970s supposedly with a recording by French conductor Jean-François Paillard‘s chamber orchestra in 1970. At almost the same time The Beatles came out with their final studio album Let It Be which had its title song taking mild inspirations from the piece. In 1980 Robert Redford used the Canon as the main theme for his Oscar-winning Ordinary People. The song has subsequently found its way into popular culture in a number of ways. One of the most famous and most complete adaptation would be Vitamin C‘s Graduation Song which used the Canon as its base for the entire composition. Throughout the song you can hear the piece playing in the background. And the choice couldn’t have been more appropriate, the song wonderfully evoking that sense of nostalgia. A number of other bands have at least partly drawn inspiration from Pachelbel’s Canon in their compositions, including Bob Marley, Aerosmith, U2, Green Day, Avril Lavigne and so on. As you can see the composition has transcended genres in inspiring songs, which just shows the popularity of the song. In 2005 a rock version of the piece, titled Canon Rock became a sensation when Taiwanese musician Jerry Chang‘s neo-classical metal arrangement got covered by South Korean guitarist Lim Jeong-Hyun known more famously by his online alias funtwo. The video got uploaded on youtube and became an instant hit, driving the repute of the Canon a notch higher, more importantly amongst the rock-minded youth.
Perhaps the best and most entertaining way to see a list of songs that have drawn inspiration from the Canon is American stand up comedian Rob Paravonian‘s Pachelbel Rant, in which he brings out the ubiquitousness of the song or at least parts of its chord progression in the music world, in a rather hilarious manner. We have provided below some of the videos mentioned above including this famous RobP video. Until next time!

Canon Rock by funtwo

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