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What’s Wrong with Pachelbel Canon?

Pachelbel Canon must be the easiest orchestral piece in the world for cellists to memorise – with its 28 repetitions of the 8 note bass line. Despite the numerous cellist jokes about this work (see below) I have always enjoyed playing it. It’s fairly short, the harmonies are beautiful and if you respond to what the other players are doing it becomes more fun.

So what is a canon?
For me canons, passacaglias and chaconnes are extremely effective musical forms where the repeated harmonies create a tautness and sense of inevitability that can be inspiring. Some of my favourite music in this form is: Purcell’s Chaconne in G minor, Vitali’s Chaconne,  Britten’s Passacaglia from Peter Grimes and Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, played superbly  below by Heifetz:
https://youtu.be/EbX3frq3Qyo

And why is Pachelbel’s so popular?
Pachelbel’s Canon major key and has a calm confidence that has probably helped to make it so well liked…

Joanna Borrett

Author Joanna Borrett

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