Archive for Pachelbel’s Canon / Four Chord Progression

This Week’s Caught in the Wild

"Hey, Scotty! This thing just space-beeped at me!"

“Hey, Scotty! This thing just space-beeped at me!”

Our eagle-eared readers have done it again! Here are more discoveries about things we’ve discussed here at The Sound and the Foley.


Mandydax says, “I was just starting Mythbusters and there’s that sound in the opening credits just before Adam says ‘It’s SCIENTIFIC!’ They do a quick close up of his face with his hat brim pulled down and ‘screeeeee!'”

Wow, I’ll need to try to dig that one up! Some cursory searching online reveals that a) Mythbusters has a ton of different opening sequences, and b) none of them are the one you found. Looks like it’s time for me to go watch a whole bunch of Mythbusters. Oh, the humanity!

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Pachelbel’s Canon

In an earlier post, I made a quick note about the ubiquitous nature of the chord progression in a piece of music called “Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and basso continuo”, also known as Pachelbel’s Canon, also known as “the ‘Freebird’ of classical music.” (Thanks to for that last one.)

But today, we shall look at Pachelbel’s Canon itself. For those of you who have heard this piece of music a million times at weddings but don’t know it by name, here’s a snip from a recording by the London Symphony Orchestra. (You can hear the full piece here.)


pachelbelJohann Pachelbel (1653-1706) was a German composer from the Baroque era. He was a hugely popular composer during his life, and composed an enormous body of work.

Pachelbel was also a teacher, and wound up tutoring the Bach family, among others. Though Pachelbel did not directly tutor Johann Sebastian Bach, he did tutor Johann Chrisoph Bach, Johann Sebastian’s older brother. J.S. Bach was in turn tutored by Johann Christoph Bach, and then later turned into another Baroque megastar.

In fact, Pachelbel might have written “Canon and Gigue” for Johann Christoph Bach’s wedding, according to a theory by Hans-Joachim Schulze. (It is known that Pachelbel wrote music for the wedding, and that he attended the event.)

Pachelbel was best known in life as an organist and an organ composer, even though his choral works (like the Canon) are what are best known today. The irony of this is that most of his chamber works are lost. The “Canon and Gigue” are two rare ones that survived.

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The Four Chord Progression

Yeah, I know I’m out-of-town doing things other than writing for this blog, but yesterday’s quick post about Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” prompted more than one person to send this video to me:

This, my friends, is Axis of Awesome’s song about a standard 4-chord progression, of which Pachelbel’s Canon is a variant.

Super special thanks to Roho and Annie L., who both sent this video to me. Roho further notes that Leonard Cohen specifically draws attention to such a chord progression in his also-ubiquitous “Hallelujah”: “It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift.”

A Quick Note and Pachelbel’s Canon

Since I’ll be spending the next several days in Champaign, IL for Ebertfest, I won’t have time to do research for any major blog posts this week.

In the meantime, however, here’s a video of Rob Paravonian ranting about the ubiquitousness of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D“. In terms of Internet humor, this is an oldie, but if you are reading this blog, it is probably relevant to your interests. Enjoy!