What is "Pachelbel Canon"?


# Pachelbel, Johann (1653-1706)

Johann Pachelbel, worked mainly in central-southern part of Germany, is said most important organist before J.S.Bach. He composed a lot of corral arrangements, some of which is called Pachelbel Corral.

He worked as church organist in various places such as Vienna and Nuremberg. When he was in Erfurt (1678-90) he got acquainted with Johann Christoph Bach, elder brother of Johann Sebastian, and taught him directly . It is said that Johann Sebastian, looked after life by his elder brother, also studied composition by transcribe music of Pachebel.

# Canon (English), Kanon (Germany)

Format of counterpoint with severe imitation technique. The subject is first presented, and the part of response continues through proper interval, There are some following methods of response.

1. Parallel canon

The following part imitates the foregoing part as it is. Even if the following part changes sound degree like 8 degrees and 5 degrees, etc., the melody is quite the same to the foregoing. A parallel canon of one degree becomes a round song like "KAERU NO UTA".

2. Anti-line canon

The following part is the inverted melody of the forgoing part bottom-to-top.

3. Reverse canon

The following part is the reversed melody of the forgoing part. It seems as if the score of forgoing part is performed from back to front.

4. Expansed canon

The following part comes to have extended the length of each note of the forgoing part to twice.

5. Reduced canon

The following part comes to have shortened the length of each note of the forgoing part to half.

It can be said that the technique of Brian Eno (Discreet Music) introduced in my CD collection page (No.11) does not fix the rate of expansed canon or reduced canon to integer values but freely changes depending on the notes.

# Pachelbel Canon

One of the Pachelbel's chamber works. Max Seiffert(1868-1948), German music student, published it with "Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and bass continuo in D major" from Olganum Co. after 1920. Part in the first half is so-called "Pachelbel Canon". 4/4 rhythms. C.F. PETERS Co. also publishes "Original version" editted by Anne Marlene Gurgel. These two edditions are the the same except the cembalo part.

While the bass continuo repeats two bars of "do-sol-la-mi-fa-do-fa-sol" 28 times, three violins play a parallel canon of one degree delaying two bars. It has so magnificent melodies that you never notice it is only a round style if you do not hear carefully. It can be called the variation with 28 variations.

It has code progress named D-A-Bm-F#m-G-D-G-A in pop style, and this pattern is often used when nostalgic feeling is expressed. A lot of hit tunes use this code progress regardless of difference of countries. An interesting consideration about this code is shown in "Music City YAMACHAN" Annex (written in Japanese).

Though there are documents assumed "Canon and Gugue" to have been arranged of an organ tune, perhaps they are mistaken. Pachelbel leaves some excellent string music tunes besides "Canon and Gugue". It seems that the following musician added the cembaro part to the string music tune composed by Pachelbel.

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