Pachelbel’s Canon in D: Its hiding in plainsight!

by jtalwar

Have you ever heard of the German Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel?  Whether or not you recognize his name, you have undoubtedly heard his Canon in D major.  Pachelbel originally wrote this Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and basso continuo before the 18th century.  His composition remained relatively inconspicuous and was almost forgotten until one fateful day in the 20th century.

Pachelbel’s Canon was first published around 1920, but that was just a footnote with relation to the piece’s popularity in the century.  French conductor Jean-Francois Paillard started the snowball effect for the pieces popularity when he made a recording of the piece in the 1970’s.  Ever since then, Pachelbel’s Canon in D has found its way into even the most popular of songs such as U2’s “With or Without You,” Green Day’s “Basketcase,” or Coolio’s “C U When You Get There.”

Pachelbel’s Canon in D has been recorded more than hundreds of times.  Whether in popular songs, jingles for advertisements, or music for a film, it is almost impossible to spend a day without hearing Pachelbel’s famous eight bars of music.  No longer do a violin and a cello hold the reigns for this piece.  It can be hears in all instruments from the piano to the guitar.  Whether you know it or not, Pachelbel played an important part in the harmony of modern pop music, through what may be called the original “one-hit wonder” with his Canon in D.

How many songs can you think of that utilize Pachelbel’s Canon in D?  1? 2? 10?  Whether you can identify each song that utilizes Pachelbel’s Canon in D, one slightly humorous video is presented below to highlight the prevalence of Pachelbel in music today: