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Pachelbel's Canon.png
many songs
many artists
billions of versions

I'd call it the oldest and most spread music fad of mankind.

What it is[]

Pachelbel's Canon

  • Aka: Canon in D major;
  • Full german title: Kanon und Gigue in D-Dur für drei Violinen und Basso Continuo)

is the most famous piece of music by Johann Pachelbel. It influenced pop-music all over the world but mostly in Netherland and around previous netherland colonies.

It's the most extraordinary instance of the "Crossover music" phenomenon in all of music. During a short period in the early 1970s it went from being a quite obscure work of early music to a universally familiar cultural item. It is used as a Wedding song and generally included in romantic lullabys and techno music.

It was played in countless versions for ALL instruments and ALL musical genres. The process shows no sign of abating.


It was written around 1680 , during the Baroque period as a piece of chamber music for three violins and basso continuo. The Canon was originally paired with a gigue in the same music key, however this composition is rarely performed or recorded today.

The canon was first adapted musically in a pop song by the Spanish vocal group Los Pop Tops on their 1968 hit "O Lord, Why Lord?", which made modest chart showings in both the USA (peaking at #79 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Netherlands.

Pachelbel's Canon in Film[]

Pachelbel's Canon, in a classic or orchestral version, has been featured repeatedly in films:

America: Ordinary People , Bad Timing , The Wonder Years. (sitcom)
Australia: Mini-series "Vietnam"(1987) , Vitamin Cs opening in her song, Graduation: Friends Forever.
Germany/Europe: "Das Sündige Bett" (The Sinful Bed) 1973.
Asia: Evangelion: Death and Rebirth.
South Korea: My Sassy Girl , The Classic.

20th century Musical adaptations[]

The chord progression ("I V vi iii IV I IV V") of Pachelbel's canon has been incorporated into or otherwise influenced many pieces of contemporary music:


Year Song Band, Album status matching Misc
1966 Spicks & Specks Bee Gees get ????????
1968 Rain and Tears Aphrodite's Child Exact AAAAAAAA Minor UK Hit, Most Popular in Franceo
1968 Oh Lord Why Lord? ??? ????????
1970 "Bachelbel's Canon in D Mayor" Karl Münchinger ??? ???????? Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra (considered best)
1969 Streets of London Ralph McTell vocal + guitar AAaAAaAa Guitar and vocals
1970 "Erato 98475" Jean-François Paillard ??? ???????? Paillard Chamber Orchestra
1974 Wenn ein Mensch lebt Puhdys get ???????? A german version of Bee Gees "Spicks &Specks" with a different vocal melody.
1975 Discreet Music Brian Eno's ??? ???????? a series of 3 versions of ambiend variations
1978 Go West (Morali Belolo Willis) Village People Exact AaAaAaAA / AAAAAAaa trumpet / background
1980 "Tunnel of Love" get ???????? Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits'
1982 Eyes Of The World Fleetwood Mac, Mirage get ???????? used in the intro and bridge
1985 Variations on the Kanon by Johann Pachelbel George Winston, December ??? ???????? album
1985 Take on me (Techno remix) A-Ha (Spectrum) shuffled variation AAAaaAAa / (AAAx___) synthesizer melody (swapped) / (background melody)
1986 Hometown Joe Jackson, Big Wrld melody + lyrics aaaaaaaa / AAAAAAAa melody / lyrics
1988 Love In The First Degree (Stock Aitken Waterman Woodward Fahey Dallin) Bananarama in AAAAAAAA single
1988 I Should Be So Lucky Kylie Minogue in AAAAAAAA / AAAAAAAA trumpet / lyric melody
1989 Someday We Will All Be Together Claire Hamill in AAAAAAAA single


1991 Pachelbel's Greatest Hit classic compilation CD ???????? RCA (incl James Galway, Isao Tomita, Canadian Brass ...)
1991 WTWP Classical Talkity-Talk Radio P. D. Q. Bach ???????? "wall-to-wall Pachelbel" ubiquity
1991 Ingame music Utopia, Gremlin Graphics ???????? video game
1991 All Together Now] The Farm ???????? single
1992 The Tacobel Canon Christine Lavin, Sometimes Mother Really Does Know Best ???????? lyrics about Taco Bell's food
1993 Go West ???????? Pet Shop Boys
1993 Mega Man 4 introduction Ojalin, Bun Bun ???????? video game
1994 Basket Case Green Day ???????? song
~1995 Forbidden Paradise (Deep Trance Mix) DJ Tiesto ????????
1995 Scatman's World Scatman John ???????? hit
1995 Don't Look Back in Anger Oasis ???????? hit
1996 I Got to Tell you Dr. Octagon, "Octagynecologist" ???????? Kool Keith delivering a fake radio advertisement over Pachelbel's Canon.
1996 Hook Blues Traveler ????????
1996 Alármala De Tos ???????? Café Tacuba, Avalancha De Exitos
1997 Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space Spiritualized ???????? album title track
1997 Maciek, ja tylko żartowałem ???????? Kazik
1997 C U When You Get There ???????? Coolio
1997 E-5 piece (EVA-00 and its derivatives) Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shiro Sagisu ???????? Anime series
1997 Estoy Tan Cansado Moenia ???????? Spanish pop song
1998 Save Tonight Eagle-Eye Cherry Exact + guitar + lyrics AAAA____ / ____AAAA humming + guitar / refrain
1998 Let the Music heal your Soul ???????? Bravo All Stars: Backstreet Boys, N Sync, ???
1998 't Dondert en het bliksemt (Meters Bier) Guus Meeuwis ???????? single
1998 Opus 40 Mercury Rev ???????? single
1998 On and On and On Catch 22, Keasbey Nights] ???????? reference in the middle of the song
1999 Graduation (Friends Forever) ???????? Colleen Fitzpatrick, Vitamin C


2001 La Belle et le Bad Boy MC Solaar ???????? track
2001 Crack City Rockers Leftöver Crack ???????? ska/punk band
2001 Este Canon Alejandro Filio ???????? Trova Song
2001 My Sassy Girl ???????? Hyun-seok Kim
2002 Canon ???????? Zox, Take Me Home
2003 Section 9 (Light & Day/Reach for the Sun) The Polyphonic Spree, The Beginning Stages Of... ???????? almost identical vocal melody
2003 Looking For Something Era ???????? album The Mass
2003 Everytime Britney Spears ???????? In the Zone
2003 Drum and Bugle Corps Phantom Regiment, Rockford, Illinois, Harmonic Journey ???????? lyrical variation
2004 Lullaby BONd , Classified (album) ???????? "see origin" (string quartet)
2004 Pachel Bells "internet" ???????? jingle bells melody
2004 Life Is Cool Sweetbox ???????? single
2004 Volverte A Ver ???????? Juanes
2005 Die Eine 2005 Die Firma ???????? single
2005 Lookin' On The Sunny Side M.O.V.E. .Japanese rock ???????? Eurobeat track
2005 Big City Life Mattafix ???????? single
2005 Canon Rock Jerry C ???????? rock arrangement/guitar solo


? Christmas Canon Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Christmas Attic ???????? Christmas Lyrics
? Christmas Canon Rock Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Lost Christmas Eve ???????? Christmas Lyrics & E-guitar
? Jolly Old Saint Nicholas ? ????????
? Seek Ye First ? ???????? hymn accompaniment
? a rock remix of it by Banya,Exceed, Pump It Up ???????? anime-style music video
? a techno remix of it by Dr. 꽃샤쓰 O2Jam ????????
? Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us Burger King, jingle ???????? commercial opening
? Re-made by Yngwie J. Malmsteen ???????? famous classical guitar virtuoso
Neverending Dream X-Perience ___aaAA AAaxxaaa "refrain shifted" "...(to)night i wanna hide my feelings to..."
Magic Fields X-Perience AAAaAAAA "refrain lyrics: magic fields'se seen..."
Why Oh Why ATC, Planet Pop AAAaAAAa / AAAAAAA_ baseline / lyrics
Around the world ATC ____AAAA / AAAA___ baseline / "refrain: la lalala lala"
Dooh Dooh barcode brothers AA_AAa_A / AAaAaaaa baseline "shifted" / "lyrics: ... cant understand what goes on in a heart"
Heut ist mein Tag Blümchen AAAaAAAA base melody at 1:00
The last unicorn theme various AAA_AAAa "lyrics: shadow of the forest..."

More Pachelbel's Canon

Other uses[]

  • Soccer fans in Europe, especially in the Netherlands, are known to use the basic melody to chant in stadiums. One popular Dutch text is "'t is stil aan de overkant" ("it's quiet on the other side"), which they repeat over and over again and which can also sometimes be heard at other sporting events that take place in stadiums, such as ice skating.
  • At least one big-city National Public Radio station, during the time of the Taco Bell TV ads involving a "talking" Chihuahua dog, posted a billboard reading, "Yo quiero Pachelbel!".

My Canon is Too Big![]

Anyone cades for this paragraph?

It's commonly played at weddings and is on many classical music compilations, along with other famous Baroque pieces such as , a 19th century arrangement of the second movement from Johann Sebastian Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3, and Albinoni's Adagio in G minor, which is a reconstruction of a lost piece by Tomaso Albinoni. A non-original viola pizzicato part is also commonly added (in a string orchestra or String quartet setting) when a harpsichord player is not used to improvise harmonies over the bass line.

Structure of DEEZ NUTZ[]

The violins play a three-voice canon over the ground bass which provides the main theme. Colors are used to indicate individual variations, 3 out of 28 can be seen here in full.

The name Canon in D is slightly misleading because the piece is not a strict music canon but rather a chaconne or a passacaglia. It is based, both harmonically and structurally, on a two-measure ground bass:

The same two-bar bass line and harmonic sequence repeated over and over, about 30 times in total. "Boooooooooooring"!

The Chords of this sequence are: D major (tonic), A major (dominant dominant), B minor (tonic parallel), F# minor (dominant parallel), G major (subdominant), D major (tonic), G major (subdominant), A major (dominant). And of course G major (gin tonic)!

The sequence (or rather, close imitations of it) appears elsewhere in the classical canon. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart employed it for a passage in Die Zauberflöte (1791), at the moment where the Three Youths first appear. He may have learned the sequence from Joseph Haydn, who had used it in the minuet of his string quartet Opus 50 No. 2, composed in 1785. Neither Haydn's nor Mozart's passage is an exact harmonic match to Pachelbel's, both deviating in the last two bars. For parallels in popular music, see below.

canon for dummies[]

The actual canon is played over the bass by the violins. In the beginning, the first violin plays the first Variation. After this is over, it starts playing the second variation, and the second violin starts playing the first variation. Then the first violin starts playing the third variation, the second violin starts playing the second variation, the third violin enters with the first variation, and so on. The structure of the canon becomes increasingly dense towards the middle of the piece as the variations grow in complexity. Afterwards, the piece gradually returns to a less complex structure. There are 28 variations in total. The canon is relatively simple and doesn't make use of any advanced counterpoint devices such as Inversion in counterpoint, Augmentation, diminution, etc.

Also see[]


Other names and unicode[]

  • Air on G string
  • Kanon D-dur (Pachelbel)
  • 파헬벨의 카논
  • カノン (パッヘルベル)
  • 巴貝海爾卡農D大調