The Little Lost and Forgotten Canon That Could

During the drive in to work today I heard one of my favorite Baroque music pieces, albeit not in performed as originally written or arranged.  A piece of music history that lay forgotten for centuries and only a single original manuscript copy survives to this day.  Rediscovered in the early 20th century, it’s popularity remains undimmed nearly another century later.  I’m speaking of Pachelbel‘s Canon.

The version I heard this morning via KLOVE had been massaged by the Trans Siberian Orchestra and transformed into a ‘Christmas Canon Rock.’

I can’t explain my reaction to this music.  Just three notes into this song and my chest tightens, I have trouble breathing and my eyes tear up.  No wonder this piece is wildly popular at weddings.  And it doesn’t matter what form or genre morphs this music.  The original genius and simple beauty always shines through.

My tiny bit of research this morning yielded an entire site devoted to this piece of music and how often it shows up in modern music.  Admittedly, the chord progression contained in the Canon in D is very common (I -V-vi-iii-IV-I-ii-V).  A few of the modern songs that caught my eye were:

  • “Cryin” by Aerosmith
  • “Let It Be” by the Beatles
  • “Tunnel of Love” by Dire Straits
  • “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister
  • “With or Without You” by U2

And I’m glad I clicked on the videos link there or I would have never watched this comedian’s rant on his cross to bear in Pachelbel’s Canon in D:


While I enjoyed TSO’s ‘Christmas Canon Rock’ version, I think, at the end of the day, what really puts a smile on my face and a zing in my spring, would be the ‘Ultimate Canon Rock’ as seen here:


Rock On Johann!

One thought on “The Little Lost and Forgotten Canon That Could”

  1. I am another afficionado of that Canon. I first heard it many years ago on a visit to New York. I was in the “Little India” area buying American goodies for my relatives back home, when I stumbled into an electronics store where a salesman tried to :sell me a “Walkman”. I knew the kids at home were wild about this latest gizmo but as a Juilliard grad specializing in Baroque music, I wasn’t remotely interested. The salesman popped the earphones into my ears and turned up some silly pop song. I made a face and said I hated the music and didn’t want it being pumped directly into my brain,

    Canny salesman that he was, he immediately popped in another tape. The Canon in D. The first few notes and I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven where the angels were playing to me. I was in ecstacy.

    “Yes …. I’ll take it …. I’LL TAKE it.,” I gasped. But when he removed the demo tape I said I wanted THAT music. “But it’s a demo” protested the young man. “I don’t care …. I WANT it”

    I paid full price for the demo …. which consisted of the Pachebel Canon and a few other Baroque pieces. I plugged myself into the Walkman ….. as I flew home to Bombay …. I played that Canon all the way …. 16 hours of flying, The only time i relinquished it was when I used the washroom on the plane. I offered it to a reluctant old Swiss lady who protested as I firmly put the headphones on her head. When I came back …. she had that familiar look on her face, as if she were being serenaded by angels. We shared the Walkman …. and Pachebel all the way to touchdown in Zurich, She wrote down “Pachelbel” before bidding me goodbye.

    Still today thirty years later, I see angels when I hear it. ( But have to admit I loved this young comedian …. so funny …. so clever.)

    Now here’s a warning …. watch out for a bloke called Zipoli. He lived around 1700 …. and wrote very few pieces. But they’re addictive too.

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